For this year's conference finale, Christina Katz made her second appearance as the Sunday morning keynote speaker. Her presentation, How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything, was based on her years of experience at platform building.
My first encountered the concept of a writer's "platform" during the Building a Platform from Nothing workshop a few years back, hosted by Karen Burns.
At some point during the seminar, Karen emphasized that the book Get Known Before the Book Deal, was a must-have guide to platform construction. Shortly thereafter, I came across a book-review in an issue of either Writer's Digest, or The Writer.
I assumed the Universe was trying to tell me something, so I ordered a copy of Christina's book--along with one, or two additional items to take advantage of Amazon.com's free shipping for orders over $25.
But I digress.
Establishing a platform is essential to launching your career as a writer in today's publishing market.
But what is a platform?
It is a way of communicating your expertise to others, primarily on-line.
Platform building--and maintaining--is an integrated part of a writer's work. Writers need to continue their professional development throughout their career. Never stop learning--it's the only way to keep up with on-going trends.
Getting started though, may be the hardest part. Writers often suffer from one of three, or all three of these maladies:
1. Nervous anxiety.
2. Scattered thinking.
To overcome these: Manage anxiety, stay focused and work in a manner you enjoy so you feel confident, excited and alive about what you're doing.
Writers are professional communicators. So ask yourself: What do you want to give to the world? Once you answer this question, commit to creating an on-line presence and establish your platform.
Developing the following skills will assist you in not only building your platform, but will enhance your writing career:
1. Knowing how to harness your strengths. (Or as Christina said: "Just write your brains out").
2. Be willing to sell your work. Selling is merely a means of offering, but some writers hate this more than platforming.
3. Develop a specialty by "writing your way" into one.
As I mentioned in Christina's Mailbox Full of $$$ workshop, writers need to develop a micropublishing skill set. This will strengthen writing skills and establish your platform.
What makes a successful platform?
2. Vibrant. (Use colors and express your personality--but don't be obnoxious).
4. Confident (without being arrogant).
5. Dynamic. That is, it is on-going.
7. And thriving. That is, you continually gain fans and followers.
Platforms are most often associated with non-fiction writers, people with expertise beyond writing. However, platforms are also important for fiction authors as well. A platform-strong writer exerts influence, even off-line. Authors can have an impact in their local community, regionally, nationally or internationally.
The steps of platform development are:
1. Have a homebase URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that is your name. This is most important, because an author may publish multiple works--but your name won't change and will make it easy for fans to find you.
2. Develop contact lists and e-mail lists.
3. Join social media networks. Keep in mind this is not just a place to broadcast (one-way communication), but to truly connect with others (two-way communication).
4. Trade resources with other writers, such as guest blogging on their sites.
Keep in mind, this is a dynamic process of potential and action, which involves many stages of growth. The key point to remember is: Consistently create content for your readers and followers.
This certainly isn't the magical means of getting published like the movies portray. To become that "overnight success" (eventually):
1. Prioritize your time.
2. Be able to say "no." (Some projects are too long, or pay too little, if at all, with a minimal amount of return).
3. Share who you are and what makes you unique.
4. No matter how many books you write, you are the owner of your platform--not a publishing company.
So to recap the basics, an on-line platform should have the following:
1. Your name as the URL.
2. A unique identity, or tag-line.
3. A short, snappy bio.
4. A mission statement. That is, what you do and what you'll provide.
5. Testimonials from fans and followers.
6. A professional quality headshot photo.
7. Photos of you in action.
On a personal note: My much-highlighted--and now autographed--copy of Get Known Before the Book Deal has been invaluable to me. I still have a ways to go in fully developing my platform, but I've been enjoying the journey so far.