When I presented this subject at a recent conference, the room filled, and believe me, I had competition in the neighboring classes. Heads nodded as I explained platform, how to create platform, and what platform meant to authors. Afterwards, I heard loads of thank-yous from people who thought they finally "got it."
The point I try to make in presenting platform is that it's not something to be forced. Going out the front door - seeking people, adding numbers, asking people to buy - is one way of doing it. At first you might entice people with a freebie, or marvelous solution, or something that's more of a splash in the pan, but that type of platform fades easily with time. In my opinion the front door method is less productive unless you are a one-hit wonder.
Agents and editors, however, are more interested in a long-term arrangement. They want to know that you have a platform that will endure time. I call this the backdoor platform. You make friends. You remain steady in your Tweeting and blog posts . . . returning all email with a smile. Sharing. You're always there. People feel they know you. Then, when you have something to sell, they buy it like family.
How do you connect with these people? They aren't all mystery readers. They aren't all literary fans. Maybe they are parents like you, animal lovers, gardeners, even writers, like my readers at FundsforWriters. You let them all know that you are a writer, but you also reveal you are more than that. You're human. You share stories. You seem touchable.
This is just common sense to me. When Lowcountry Bribe came out in February, I had that gut feeling that I needed to jumpstart my image. I had to be anywhere and everywhere. My husband and publisher stopped me. "Let it happen," I was told. I scoffed at myself. They were right.
We see big hits and suddenly we want to clamor and fight to be like them. The problem is, those people did their backdoor platform ages ago, and you're just getting the memo. They didn't do it overnight. And neither can you.
Start now building that platform. Yes, even though you have no book or no product to sell. Become someone online - a personality. Be yourself. Be there for others. Be there steadily, daily. Flash that smile even though there's nobody in your room, because it'll come across in your Tweets. There you go. Be a friend.
Normandie Ward Fischer lives more on sea than land. She's the acquiring editor for Wayside Press, and we hit it off at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference a couple weeks ago. Recently we spoke (and I Tweeted) about platform.
Normandie Ward Fischer Hope. I know you and I have talked about this, but today it hit. Wham, I got it -- because that's what I've been doing this as a buyer. I read interesting comments. I read other folks' blogs. I pay attention. And then I go buy the books of those folk I like. Hey, it got me into your world, and I'm waiting for the next one to hit Amazon!
And from her blog Writing on Board, entitled Marketing Revolution:I rarely buy books when someone begs me to. I rarely buy based on advertising. But I do head over to Amazon when I read a thoughtful post or a comment by someone who intrigues me, some word that makes me want to know the writer better. So, if that works for me as a buyer, perhaps it will work for me as a seller? Oh, my, I can wrap my mind around that sort of marketing. The friendship thing.