Let’s start by clarifying who I’m talking to today. If you write to create a memory for your family or to get something off your chest–those are valid reasons, no problem with them. You’re just not an audience for this article. But if you write because you want to be heard, or you need a bit of extra money and writing sounds like the way, or you want to be remembered for something other than being little Joey’s mom (or dad), read on.
If your writing requires an audience, that means you need a platform. What is a ‘platform’? According to Nathan Bransford, literary-agent-turned-author, “platform is the number of eyeballs you can summon as you promote your book. That is who follows your blog, who friends you on FB, who’s in your G+ circles, who invites you into their Twitter streams, who participates in your PLNs. It can also include book signings, radio and TV appearances, seminar participation, guest articles, newsletters, and any sort of guest appearances. To create and grow your platform, you’ll want to:
- define yourself as the unique writer you are.
- focus on that image without diluting it.
- reach out to as many people as you can
Does that sound simple? Yes, of course it does. All I’m asking is that you know yourself, be true to yourself, and don’t be afraid to share it.
You say it just isn’t that easy? You’re right. The ‘knowing’ is the easy part. The ‘doing’ is what’s hard, and it takes a lot of time. Which is why there are hundreds–thousands?–of publicists out there that will do this for you. They’ll profile you, box you up, sound bite your personality and writing expertise, and then spread the word.
That’s OK, but it’s not for me. The reason isn’t because I have so much free time or I have writer’s block and am looking for a diversion. It’s because my platform is the lifeblood of my writers credentials and no one will do it as well as I do. Consider these reasons and see if you agree:
- If you hire a publicist and they do it poorly, as a friend of mine said, “You would have gotten more promotional value out of her/his fee by setting fire to your cash on YouTube”.
- You, on the other hand, will never quit until you do it well.
- If you write and no one reads it, have you even written? Think of the platform as the WD40 to your rusty hinge.
- No one else will do it for free
Yes, I understand, marketing and publicity is about as appealing to a writer as banana flavored Popsicles, but agents and customers will judge you based on the strength of your platform, which means your future as a professional writer (remember: that’s the group I’m talking to here) depends upon that. Don’t make that decision based on what you like or don’t like or what you’re comfortable doing. Embrace the courage of complete ignorance. Man up. Just do it. Let me know how it goes.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.