Monday, June 2, 2008

Perservance & Platform Building

This is a tough business and it seems not a day goes by that writers are not asked to do more, follow another rule or guideline, promote harder and find innovative ways to do it, and then grin and bear the tough road we tread. I hope this article helps, or at least encourages you to persevere and to enjoy the journey.

For the majority of authors, writing a novel is a rewarding experience, a joy, a burning desire fulfilled. The other side of the experience involves promotion and marketing. Marketing is getting your book into the hands of readers. Promotion is building a name. It's like having a toolbox. In order to build a house, you have to have the right tools to do it. The same applies for writers building their careers. You must have the right tools in order to succeed.

One tool in the toolbox is a platform. In today’s world of competitive publishing, the writer's platform mainly applies to non-fiction writers. If you glance over the non-fiction titles in bookstores, you will find celebrity names galore. It is their name, their fame that initially sells their books. Who they are is the foundation of their platform.

What about fiction writers? Can they build a platform in order to attract an audience of readers? Certainly. First, the writer needs to know what the author’s platform is. The Webster’s Dictionary defines platform as 'a raised flooring or stage for performers, speakers, etc.' For the writer marketing their work and promoting their name, the platform is an imaginary stage, where the author is in full view of a target audience of potential readers. It is in a word a circle of influence.

For the fiction writer the platform is not so narrow except in the area of genre. Most people would like to read a good yarn. The platform therefore is broader. It's like throwing a stone into a pool of water, causing a rippling effect. Say your genre is historical fiction. The center of the ripple is readers that prefer historical novels above all other genres. The writer targets that group, and word of mouth advances in ripples. The writer can then branch off their platform to influence other types of readers by having a platform that promotes a good story.

What does a platform does for you as an author and what kinds of things do you do to grow your platform?


Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Rita. Thanks for pointing the way to your blog. I'll put you in my favorites. Love your blog "furnishings." Such a nice atmosphere!

Interesting post. Looking forward to part two.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Rita, this blog is great. Thanks for sending the link.



Deborah said...

this was good...I look forward to reading the rest. I'll add you to my links for writing resources.

Ruth Axtell Morren said...

Thanks for the good info, Rita.

Tonya Root said...

Good info. I can't wait for the second installment. I've been reading so much lately about 'platforms' for the non-fiction world, but I've been wondering how this applies in the fiction world. Thanks for sending the link!

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Rita. When I first started writing several years ago, I never heard of fiction writers needing a platform. However, I'm now noticing that both publishers and agents are asking fiction authors about their platform. It appears that it's something that novelists need to be aware of nowadays. I look forward to reading your next post about platform.

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you Rita--a very good read.Makes me think about what to do when my book comes out.

Linda Pennell said...

Hi Rita,
Thank you for helping clarify the term "platform" from the fiction perspective. It apparently has been a staple of non-fiction for some time where it has a clearer meaning and application.
Don't you just love a challenge? Being new to the world of publishing, I am fast learning that there is a lot more expected from an author these days. Kind of makes you want to ask what it was that Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway thought they had to be so depressed about!
Looking forward to your next posting!

Sandy said...


Thank you for this post. I've been thinking about this very thing. Can't wait to read the next installment.


Frank Creed said...

I look forward to reading what you have to say tomorrow. Thank you for writing on this topic!

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Fabulous article. Very timely and informative...

Thanks for this!


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Excellent info, Rita. This is a wonderful site for writers. Thanks for sharing!

Miss Mae said...

Rita, I really appreciate learning this. As someone new to blogging, I hadn't any idea what to write about, so yes, I've kept rather a "diary", but now I see, to be a serious writer, that's not the way to go!