Platform Building: Identify, Engage and Commit to Your Tribe

New home construction framing.Building a strong and successful author’s platform is every bit as vital as the construction of a dream home. It takes the raw materials of discipline and dedication to your tribe, or audience. As a writer, you are the proprietor of Company You, and must take control of your own marketing and public relations. Counting on a literary agent or publisher to handle this for you is antiquated thinking.

Pillars of an author’s platform include: book/blog writing, guest posting on other blogs, vlog/podcasts, published articles in magazines or periodicals, public speaking and networking via traditional or social media.

Identify your tribe/reader. Add value to your website/web presence for the audience. What are their characteristics?

Engage your tribe. Reply to comments and questions promptly. Write a blog. Let them know your speaking calendar. Post daily content on a Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile, or Pinterest page.

Commit to your tribe. Like a skilled juggler, keep the balls of social media in the air with discipline. Make a commitment to your brand and audience. Don’t let too much time go by without connecting with them. As your platform grows, the stronger it will become.

If you are unpublished, Michael Hyatt’s latest book, Platform, recommends you spend 90 percent of your time writing and 10 percent on platform building. This is true for fiction or non-fiction genres; however, non-fiction writers should have a strong online presence. You want to be considered an expert in your field.

The most important thing is to keep your numbers growing. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, you can use the time efficiently. Post content or ask questions on your Twitter feed, Pinterest or Facebook fan page, then read two or three other’s blog posts, and give feedback.

Write a guest post on other author’s blogs, especially those who share your genre. If you offer space on your blog, most writers are happy to reciprocate. The Biblical adage, “Do unto others…” fits nicely in this case.

My blog’s focus is encouragement, so I post an inspirational quote and Scripture every day on my Facebook fan page. Consider what might add value to your online presence for your readers. Use organizational and scheduling tools like HootSuite. It’s a huge timesaver.

Check out the social media presence of authors in your genre, or one you respect. Glean what speaks to you, and then find your own niche. The time to build your platform is now, before you sell your first book. At least have the structure in place, so you can hit the ground running when your time comes.

“If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove your books will sell.”—Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

Sources: Who Needs a Platform?, Are You Hitting a Bulls Eye With Your Target Audience?, From Blog to Book: Building an Online Platform, Should Unpublished Novelists Be Platform-Building? www.rachellegardner.com; The 15-Minute Writer (Part 3): Building Your Platform, Building Your Author Platform Before The Contract, 4 Pillars to Build an Effective Social Media Platform, www.wordservewatercooler.com.

How to Write a Killer Author Bio in Three Easy Steps

A clean, concise author biography is your calling card, and can mean the difference between future sales and languishing in the bookstore bargain bin. Creative writing may be your bread and butter, but tooting your own horn can be a difficult task. Here are three categories to consider:

  1. Short form: Two sentences. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you online. Around 25 words.
  2. Medium form: For speaking engagements, magazine articles, brochures. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you, education, and background, if it pertains to your writing. Around 50 words.
  3. Long form: For query letters. In first person. One quarter (around 50 words) of the page for fiction. A little longer for non-fiction (add your platform and credentials). Push the current project, not your life story.

Make it professional, but with your personality; include memberships in literary associations, degrees in literature or creative writing, book awards and reviews.

Make a list of all possible facts, then start paring it down. Choose three credits to highlight. Keep personal information to a minimum. Readers want to know where to find you on the internet and other books you have written.

Share your newly-crafted bio with your critique group. Members can give you input on what to work on.

Don’t mistake this accomplishment, “Jane recently trained her tom cat, Sir Licksalot, to fetch the evening paper,” with this one, “Jane received second place for her essay titled, ‘Jambalaya,’ in the Deep South Gazette’s annual literary competition.”

Don’t talk about this life experience, “Hortense spent her teen years in and out of Juvenile Hall,” when this one is so much more relevant, “Hortense’s two decades as an EMT give her unique qualifications to write medical drama.”

Compose a biography like you’re writing a novel. Write and revise. Whittle it down until there is no visible fat. Your bio must be lean and mean! Below are two of mine, which I am currently crafting.

“Carol J. Martin is a veteran blogger, inspirational writer/speaker and Kansas Writers Association member. Female in Motion Devotions, her first book, received semi-finalist status in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. Female in Motion can be found at www.fim-carol.blogspot.com.”

“While it began in 2007 as an exercise blog, Female in Motion (www.fim-carol.blogspot.com) quickly became more of a personal journal: Life as a Midwestern wife, empty-nester, inspirational writer/speaker, cancer survivor and most notably, Christian. Female in Motion Devotions, my first book, was a semi-finalist in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. My faith simply wraps itself around everything I write and I consider it my mission to encourage women to seek God’s will for their lives.”

“Biography lends to death a new terror.”—Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Credits: www.rachellegardner.com, www.ehow.com, www.wordservewatercooler.com, www.freelancewriting.com, www.lulu.com/blog