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Building a Platform Without a Hammer and Nails

Over the past year I have come across several references to the importance of a platform in writing. Although I grasped it is an essential tool in achieving publication, the principle of how to apply it to me and my book seemed ambiguous.  This said, I set out on a quest to understand what a platform is and how it works. Now I would like to share my findings with you.

According to Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, author of How to Build a Writing Platform: 10 ways to Achieve National Visibility for Writers, ”A writing platform is one tool to promote yourself and sell your writing.”

Laurie explains that a writing platform does the following:

• Drives books sales.

• Speaks to the writer’s ability to promote and sell his or her book in national and international markets.

• Provides security to the publisher.

• Acts as a vehicle to promote the author and his or her book.

If most of you are like me then I'm sure you're asking, “ How do I accomplish such a feat?” Well, Laurie gives us lots of advice in this department. Using some suggestions from authors Frishman and Spizman’s, 101 Best Selling Book Proposals: The Insiders Guide to Selling Your Work, Laurie provides ten ways to build a writing platform:

• Create your own website with blogs, forums, newsletters and photos.

• Blog or write for an established website.

• Figure out what your specialty or niche is, then build your writing platform around that.

• Give talks about your specialty in schools, churches, libraries and local groups.

• Teach classes or offer workshops.

• Offer products or services related to your niche.

• Participate in online communities and forums.

• Sell or donate articles or bits of book chapters to magazines, newspapers or newsletters.

• Conduct focus groups or use surveys to convince publishers that your idea has merit and will sell. This will build your platform by providing you with tangible support.

• Ask an organization to commit to buying a hundred or so copies of your published book—and include their letter of commitment with your book proposal.

If you have already set the above suggestions into motion or you don’t have the time to accomplish them, then Laurie lists four more ways to establish a platform.

• Hire a book publicist.

• Make readers, publishers and agents laugh, learn to insert humor into your writing.

• Secure an agent who believes in you. He or she will help build your writing platform.

• Plug into an established series. For example, tailor your book idea to fit the Chicken Soup series or, the Dummies line.

Although I get the feeling a platform relates more to non-fiction than fiction, it is my impression that building a following will only add to an author’s credibility. I would also be interested to learn more about your platforms.  Do you have any other advice about platforms by which a new author could draw from? If so, I’d be interested to learn more about it. Until next time, happy writing.


  1. It was such a shock to me after my book came out to realize the work had only just begun. Here I had been a reclusive writer (part of my platform now lol!) and now I have to promote myself, speak and give presentations! In fact, the presentation I'm currently doing at libraries addresses this very thing-- "Out of the frying pan"-- how I go out of the frying pan of writing into the fire of public speaking, and I seque it into how we have to do tough things to realize our goals whether it's writing, marriage, raising kids, taking on a new career, etc etc. I think the best platforms are ones that fit us personally, that we don't have to TRY to hard to make work for ourselves and what we write.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Karen G and welcome to Aspiring Novelists. Also, congratulations on publishing your novel. Drop me an e-mail sometime, I'd like to know more about your book.

    I remember reading once that Hemingway used to write from a remote tropical island. When his manuscript was complete all he had to do was forward it to his agent.

    Well, those days are dead and gone. Now a writer must treat the profession like a business. Publishers have passed the responsibility of marketing and promoting new novels onto the author. Unfortunately, the craft no longer matters as much as the bottom line.

  3. At the moment, since I'm unpublished, I have nothing to promote. At least, I have nothing that people can buy. Also, without the validation of publishing, it's doubtful anyone would want to hear me give presentations.

    However, I've begun in small ways. I began my blog a few weeks ago. I'm up to eight followers! Woo-hoo! ;-) I'm posting on other blogs, so I'm 'meeting' other writers. I've always been active in one forum or another. It does vary though. I've been a moderator for a writing website, but had to quit due to lack of time.

    I could make a video trailer, eventually. I have made video trailers, or rather, fanvids, for tv shows, so I can do the technical stuff.

    What would hinder me for my own trailer would be acquiring rights to use music. I think that there are some songs that the artists have given the okay to use, I just have to find the site again.
    My son plays quitar and bass and has a very short recorded bit of music. I suppose if I had to, I could use that. lol. My husband is also a photographer, so maybe there are some photos of his I can use.

  4. Congratulations on your blog Mary. It's good your brainstorming about possible ways to promote your book. The more of a buzz you can generate about it, the better. All the best on your novel.

  5. I don't have a platform worth mentioning at the moment. I did try taking the literary journal route, but after writing and submitting a few shorts, I decided shorter fiction wasn't for me. I'll keep hacking away at the long stuff until I break through the jungle. You're right, though, platform has more to do with nonfiction, so I'm not going to worry about it too much. Only time will tell whether that's a bright idea or a dim one.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts B.E. FWIW, Literary agent, R. Price once gave me some good advice. She told me that although a platform is not necessary for fiction, those who have one stand a better chance of being published.

    For example, one of the guy's in my book club has a perfect platform. He writes for a blog which caters to the gay and lesbian community. He is working on a fictional novel about a gay man whose partner lost his life to a hate crime.

    Comparing apples to apples, I think a publisher would pick him up quicker than someone like me. This guy has an established audience and has experienced a hate crime first hand. In contrast, my novel has nothing to do with my life. Also, it does not target a certain population, so a publisher would be taking more of a risk on my novel.


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