Monday, April 18, 2011

P is for...


I'm starting to see platform as a profane word. How do you build a platform when you're writing fiction vs. nonfiction? If you're someone like Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs, you write fiction based on your career. But what about people who write fantasy? There are few jobs, if any, I can think of that would be related unless your fantasy character has a mundane job of some sort, which is entirely possible.

You can make a blog that has to do with your fiction topic in some way (or I suppose you could make a blog about writing, but who would do that? Though I didn't create this blog for that reason.). I think J.A. Kazimer has done a fun blog to create a platform for her book F**ked up Fairytale, which isn't out yet. She set up the New Never News blog with mixed up fairy tales.

Colorado mystery author, Beth Groundwater, has a new series out that involves river rangers. She's a hobby rafter and has a lot of experience with it, so she did a whirlwind blog tour where she posted on a different blog each day about her book or rafting or something else related. The blogs weren't necessarily writer's blogs, but it all had to do with her platform. She's excellent at self-marketing, by the way, and I find I'm watching her and mentally taking notes.

You have to be creative to figure out a platform that will get your name out there, but it pretty much has to be online, at this point. You need to have a presence. Knowing other authors can also help, because they can help get your name out there, and we're all readers. If you're anything like me, you're probably always eager to hear about a new author or book to read.

Why should we develop a platform, you may ask? Isn't that the publisher's job? Shouldn't they market for us? From what I've read and heard from various local authors, the publishing companies don't seem to be doing much of the marketing unless the authors have already proven themselves. There are just too many books being published, and their marketing departments/funds are limited. If you truly want to sell your books, you have to market them, as well as yourself. This was one of those details that surprised me. I had this quaint little idea that I would write the book, find a publisher, and that publisher would take everything from there. They'd market, they'd arrange signings, they'd do it all. Pretty funny, huh? Boy, was my first conference an eye opener in terms of the real world of publishing.

Have you figured out a platform yet? I'm still working on it.

Happy Writing!


  1. Definitely have not figured out a platform. I write fantasy and my day job involves folding jeans. Not exactly a match made in heaven. But it probably explains why I write fantasy.

  2. I noticed a lot of RPG players joined the AZ challenge this year, I think they might be a good market for fantasy writers, could maybe follow a few of them and develop a relationship.

    Moody Writing

  3. I think blogs and the whole social media scene is essential for promoting your work, really have to get your work out there and develop the interest alongside whatever the publisher is doing. Nice post. Amanda

  4. Interesting post. So, my blogging ramblings need to be at least slightly cohesive? Uh oh! Definitely some stuff to think about, thanks for posting.

  5. I'm basically building my platform as a paranormal romance and fantasy writer. It's probably easier than some genres since I can focus on those topics. Like for the A to Z Challenge, I've developed a theme of mythological creatures.

    I didn't really think of it like that when I started blogging, but it's definitely something I'm going to keep up! =) Great post.

  6. The thing I have found the most distressing is that not even book stores, even local book stores, not the big chains like B&N, will help support a new author. I've been told over and over again that they don't want you in their store unless you've been published by one of the big publishers.
    All of this stuff shows me how much I want an agent. Or an assistant. Because what I want to be doing is writing, not marketing.

  7. Shannon, do pop over to my blog and claim your award, and don't bother about doing the rules if you'd rather not, very time consuming.

  8. I would much rather come up with my platform myself than have the publisher tell me what it's going to be.

    I have definitely seen the shift in how much work the publishers can/will put into promoting their new authors and I understand it. With all the books finding their way to shelves and the many, many ways to connect with readers, it makes sense for writers to take on some of that work themselves.

  9. M.J., do you ever imagine something materializing as you fold the jeans?

    Mood, good point. I did notice all the RPG blogs, but hadn't been connecting with them.

    Amanda, true. The tricky part is figuring out how to relate it and how to make the time for it.

    Angeline, lol and nah. I guess it all depends, but if it's interesting, why should it be cohesive? Or maybe I'm wrong. I'm just learning about platform now. Ha!

    Sarah, I hadn't considered it for this blog, either, until I started looking into platform. Love your theme! Great way to wrap it into fantasy writing.

    Andrew, that's really unfortunate. There seem to be some writer-friendly book stores around here, but I don't know how to go about cultivating a relationship with the owners. ~whispers~ I sorta' buy most of my books from Amazon. ~back to normal voice~ Our local library also seems to support writers, which is awesome. You'd think small book stores would be doing anything to set themselves apart while the bigger bookstores are gobbling them up.

    Carole, thank you! I need to post about that now and check out the others you pointed to.

    Karen, very valid points. In a day and age where we know more about various celebrities than our neighbors, we writers need to put ourselves out there and allow people to get to know us.

  10. I have heard of a lot of authors who are now just publishing books on their own via the internet and selling themselves and the books. That may be a sign of what is to come in the future (cut out the middle man), I bet we would have some some new great authors that would otherwise never have been found.
    Anyway, great post! :)

  11. I buy a lot of my books on Amazon, too. It's just too convenient. Especially when it's something the book store doesn't have. Which is more and more frequent these days.

    And I did actually think our local book store chain was friendly to locals... until I started calling them after I finished my book. They didn't even want to discuss it.

  12. Snakesmom, very true. Places like CreateSpace allow authors to skip the middle man. I know a few who have self-published.

    Andrew, it's usually cheaper, at least compared to stores around here. Only for hardcovers, though, so I tend to wait to get paperbacks in-store. And crap. What are bookstores without authors, hmm??

  13. Hey Shannon
    I'm just catching up with your posts today - the only downside to the a-z challenge is how many great blogs I feel I have to read! I'm definitely attracted and repelled by the idea of building a platform. On the one side I'm like - I haven't even finished a book yet! Queries are still dancing like sugarplums in my head! But on the other side, I hear people like Nathan Bransford saying it takes up to THREE YEARS to properly build an author platform and that's BEFORE the first book is published. I started blogging in an effort to 'build a sustainable writing life' ie. not just eff around, but get serious about writing. It's worked better than I thought because it's connected me to so many people and resources. But beyond that? I don't know if I'm ready.