Last week I posted a recap of Karen Burns' Building a Platform from Nothing workshop at this year's Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) Summer Conference. Today, I thought I'd post my own personal experience--and shameless self-promotion--with platform building.
No, I'm not talking about Gallows Building-101, however writers often feel as if their careers are at a "dead end" as pictured above. Building a proper platform, that is establishing visibility among potential readers and publisher, may help jump-start a beginning writer's career or push an established author out of a literary noose.
For the past four years I've written wargame articles for historical gaming magazines. These publications help promote the hobby by discussing such topics as painting techniques for miniature figures, product reviews, strategy guidelines and historical commentaries. Miniature Wargames (UK) was the largest gaming magazine to publish my articles:
Since these periodicals constitute a niche market in the overall publishing industry, they're often vulnerable to economic downturns, not to mention the exponential growth of the internet. One such casualty was Historical Miniature Gamer (US), which I discussed in a previous post:
With my literary gaming outlets dwindling I felt I hit bottom. But instead of "starting to dig," I began constructing my own platform--although I didn't know it at the time.
Last August while convalescing from surgery, I became familiar with the Window Movie Making Program on my new computer. Then I discovered the power of YouTube. Armed with over 80 pictures from a Napoleonic wargame I made my first YouTube movie--The Road to Eggmuehl.
This blog was lauched last fall and by the time my second YouTube movie, Impending Fury was posted, I caught the attention of the president of the Historical Miniature Gaming Society (HMGS). I'm no professional photographer and my figure-painting skills are mediocre. But despite my limited talents, the president liked my work. He asked me to produce several movies for their "YouTube Project" as it was dubbed. The intent was to generate interest for their upcoming Historicon-09 Convention and became the 6-part series Mayhem in Makassar Strait:
By the time Writer's Digest and The Writer began running articles on platform building, I was already in the midst of producing "Mayhem." Only now I had a clear definition of what I was doing.
Building a platform--even a successful one--however, shouldn't distract an author from their primary task--to write. But if you budget your time wisely, building a platform should enhance, rather than detract from your writing career.
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4 months ago