Platform Building, Part 2

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Your writer’s platform is basically the group of activities you engage in that get your name and work noticed by the public. It’s marketing, not of a specific work, but of you as the author. It’s everything you do to build your brand.

Nowadays, publishers require that their authors are willing to get out there and market themselves. And, if you’re an indie author, as I am, all the more important for you to learn all you can about marketing.

  1. Aside from making publishers happy, there are a other side benefits to platform building:
  2. You may be able to generate some side-income from teaching and speaking.

You can also build your brand as an expert in your writing niche.

No matter what your goals, fans want to connect with a real person. That means we need to be ourselves, both as writers and individuals. We must show our true faces to the world.

The good news is that the technology of today (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can play a major role in building our platforms, and are based on genuine, personal interactions.

*So, with an online presence on Facebook and Twitter being ESSENTIAL, I will also suggest that you start a website/blog and or weekly newsletter. Weebly and WordPress basic websites are FREE. I got mine (www.brendapoulos.org and www.spiritualsnippets.com and runawaysthelongjourneyhome.wordpress.com) started in practically no time at all. I am not techie, so if I can do it, you can, too! (There are others, such as communit.com, but these are the easiest to get started with and to keep going on a consistent basis.)

You’ll have to be diligent about blogging at least once weekly, adding your bio, announcing new book launches, sharing information on writing and about your life in as specific details as you are comfortable.

*Speaking at writer’s groups, libraries, book clubs, etc. can get you in front of the public. You’ll meet new people (potential followers) and meet other writers.

Although public speaking isn’t for everyone, it’s never a bad idea to get out there and let people see the face of the author behind the words. Take a guest book along with you, asking interested attendees to give you their email address so you can keep in touch with news, offers, etc.

*Teaching the craft of writing is another great avenue to help brand you as an expert. It will also give you something to blog about. Although this is often done as a freebie on an author’s part, you can make some decent side money by teaching either in person or online via podcasts or webinars.

So, decide what your specialty will be. Some websites I’ve seen involve cooking, crafting, scrapbooking, animals, travel—almost anything that is of interest to you will also be of interest to that certain group of others with similar likes, goals, and beliefs.

*Don’t overlook doing book give-a-ways on Goodreads and Amazon and Book Bub. You can also create products, such as pens, mugs, bookmarks, etc. Then, used these to market your brand by using them as give-a-ways at fairs, conventions, etc.

Get creative! I leave my business cards on bulletin boards and in restaurants when I pay my bill. A friend of mine leaves them in the pockets of the clothing she tries on when shopping!

*Support other authors. Join a professional writers groups/organizations. These are great ways to make contacts, lasting friendships, and get in on some great teaching. May I recommend American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the local chapter in your state.

It is important to remember that platform building will be different for every author because it will depend on your target readership, your unique expertise, and the message you want to present to the world.

Platform building is a creative process, just as is your own writing…

Use your imagination.

Begin small and build in increments.

Be persistent.

Don’t give up!

Neglecting your platform in today’s world can be a big mistake. You may have written a best-seller, but no one will know that if you don’t make your presence known!

Authors: Introverts or Extroverts?

So often we think authors must be introverts, since writing is such a solitary, introspective endeavor.

Public speaking seems to be more in line with what an extrovert would do. After all, they thrive in environments full of people—malls, cafes, concerts, conferences.

Actually, it seems there is no direct correlation between being a writer and being an introvert or an extrovert.

Sure, if given a choice, introverts may rather express their ideas in writing than in speech and extroverts more often enjoy taking to the stage.

But, for both, writing provides a way of expression, although perhaps a more comfortable medium of expression for introverts.

 

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There is also a third category, called ambiverts, striking a balance between these two extremes. This personality trait includes the qualities of both introversion and extroversion.

I am convinced that the longer a person writes, the possibility of him/her becoming anambivert increases. After all, introverts find that much of their career depends on marketing, publicity, and teaching opportunities. Extroverts realize that even though they thrive on social contact, they must still spend a good deal of their time working  alone.

Of course, people retain their basic personality type, but environment and heredity both play a significant role in the blending of these two types into one super type—the best of both worlds—the ambivert.

A hybrid. A super communicator. A writer.

Speak Up!

A friend of mine at church has been after me to join Toastmasters. He knows that I struggle with public speaking and how that hinders some of my involvement in church. He also is aware of something that I hadn’t thought about until very recently: in order to be a recognized name in the field of writing, one also must be a decent public speaker.

Self-promotion is the name of the game. Yes, even though we writers may say it is about the message in our writing (which, of course, it is) no one will “get it” if they don’t hear about us.

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter—these are certainly tools to accomplish the same thing. But none of these, alone, will accomplish what “in person”, face-to-face contact will do. Whether it is speaking at a critique group, local writing club or writing conference, our spoken words are powerful ways to connect to others.

There’s just nothing like seeing—and hearing—a confident speaker in person. It starts with the self-confidence from within. That self-confidence is built by years of experience in snatching up speaking opportunities wherever, and whenever, they come along. If we don’t, we may very well be giving up our opportunity to be heard via our writing, also.

So, we have to get over our insecurities and fear of public speaking by building our confidence in doing exactly the very thing we are most afraid of. If a public speaking group like Toastmasters can help, then I’m going to give it a try. Go out on a limb. Push myself to my most uncomfortable limit.

The problem is, even while I write these words, I can feel my heart rate escalating. I feel the all-too-familiar hives creeping up toward my neck—and I haven’t even left the house, yet!

In one of my earlier blogs I stated that this fear of public speaking could be circumvented by writing, instead. That was so naive on my part. You can run, but you can’t hide. You can avoid it for years, but if we are honest with ourselves, it can actually feel good to face our fears. I suggest we get out there and do something about it.

There’s a Toastmaster’s group that meets twice a month at our community clubhouse. I know this because I jotted down the place and time on my desk calendar a few months ago. My note to myself to contact them stares me in the face each time I sit down at the computer. I want to call, but…

There are opportunities to speak at schools, public libraries, even bookstores. I am missing out on them because I haven’t taken the first step toward facing my fear of public speaking. I need to get started by taking the first step, in a series of steps, and call the number I scribbled down months ago.

I can start. So can you. We cannot make a difference in the world if we are not able to articulate our message, both in written and spoken speech.

We’ve come too far to quit, now. We still have so much to say!

Let’s blurt it out—shout it out!

This time, don’t pick up the pen. Grab your telephone, instead, and dial the number for a public speaking self-help group in your area. After that, send a comment sharing what you’ve found helpful in your own life.

 

Brenda