Friday, January 06, 2012

Three Traits of an Author's Platform

Developing a platform is a vague concept to most folks. There are no 1-2-3 steps to a successful platform. That's good and that's bad. Bad in that you don't know where to start. Good in that the decisions are all your own.

When I mention platform at conferences, a writer invariably says, "Easy for you to say. You have a platform." Yes. It is easy for me to say, because I did develop a platform. I'm still working hard at it. As a matter of fact, I have to work harder than ever at it because I've launched into the fiction world, where few people know me.

So I take the lessons I learned from FundsforWriters and extract the best ideas, the obvious habits, and the most productive choices in an attempt to build that brand new platform, where people know me as a mystery author.

1. Consistency

Deliver a consistent message. What genre do I write? Mystery. I read them, talk them, join groups that promote them. When a reader thinks of C. Hope Clark, he hopefully thinks mystery as well as FundsforWriters. Hopefully, he'll think of the book title, A Lowcountry Bribe, or the series, Palmetto State Mystery Series, but if he doesn't, he knows he can Google "mystery AND Hope Clark." You want people to hear your name and know what you are, and that comes from consistency in being "out there" spreading the word.

2. Intrigue

Your voice must be interesting . . . intriguing. Readers get a dose of your work and want more due to your unique characters, smooth voice, or remarkable twists. You are nobody else, and when a reader invests in you, he gets his money's worth. You want to take chances with your work. You want to be memorable.

3. Availability

If a reader hears of you, be available. Blog, Facebook, website, Twitter, Goodread, etc. Leave your footprint in enough places, on a daily basis, so that people stumble upon the impression you make without much effort. Reply to email. Answer Facebook messages. Tweet back. Remove any sense of aloofness, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, don't hide behind your fear of self-promotion. Nobody can promote you better than you, and if a handful of readers like your work, make it easy for them to contact you and say so. You'll make a long-term fan.

That's it. Consistency. Intrigue. Availability. Keep those professional traits in mind and you'll be amazed at how quickly your marketing takes hold and shoots you forward.


Norma said...

Great post, Hope! I'm sharing it with fellow authors.

Karla Telega said...

I'm always looking for a fresh perspective in a sea of regurgitated advice. Your post really struck a chord with me and put all the "10 steps" "7 principles" "12 tips"... in perspective. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Karla. I too get lost in a world of 7 steps, 10 tips, etc. I think using bullets on the Internet has made us dumb down to lists instead of explanation.

Kelly Robinson said...

As a magazine freelancer, I'm used to having my fingers in multiple pies. Now that I'm working on books, I'm having to hone in on my platform. The tricky thing is that I have more than one, and they're pretty disparate. I think it's doable though. The Internet provides so many opportunities for staking a claim!