Friday, September 23, 2011

Have Platform Will Publish

Just returned from a beautiful bicycling trip for a few blissful days with my husband through the rolling hills of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Unpacked the bags, got a few hours of sleep, sat down at the computer, and there I was. Back at it again.

“It” is researching how to expand my “author platform,” that ubiquitous term I keep running into everytime I read about getting a book published these days. All the articles or blogs I read are talking about platform, as in, ‘If you want a publisher to take note of you, you gotta have a platform. No platform? Fugeddaboudit.” Full stop.
Like it or not, I have to take this platform thing seriously if I want to find a publisher for my recently-completed memoir.  But no matter how many publishing experts promise they can teach me to build my platform in three easy pieces, it makes me tired just thinking about it. People have been telling me for years that it’s easy to knit socks, tighten my abs, make strudel and dye my own hair. I know better.

I do take some comfort, however,  hearing that blogging is a good form of platform-building. I blog, therefore I platform-build.

Platform is what you use or do to make you and your work stand out and build a following. Blogging and tweeting are great ways of building platforms. Linkedin and Facebook pages are good platforms, too. I would imagine skywriting is probably even better than any of those. Hard to sustain though, I suppose. But I’m not completely counting it out yet. Note to self: google skywriters, Toronto.

“Platform maven” Christina Katz, author of Build Your Author Platform says, “Through your platform you sustain an engaging and dynamic presence among fellow writers; develop a devoted following of readers; identify and capitalize on your unique areas of expertise …”

In other words, an extensive platform tells publishers that you’re visible. That you have an audience. People already know who you are, think you have something to say, care about what you have to say, and…drumroll… may even buy your book because they like you (and what you have to say) so much.

In these uneasy times for publishers, I figure that an author platform is a little like Xanax. It will reduce anxiety and increase feelings of tranquility. What publisher couldn’t use a little of that these days?

So I’ll give it to them. It’s the least I can do. I will  build my platform, like the good people say. As some of my readers may know, I’ve already taken one piece of expert advice directed toward increasing readership in my blog,  I’ve taken what they say to mean, ‘focus young lady’. So, I’ve become more focused.

Instead of talking about 62 different subjects in 62 days of blogging as I’ve done (probably a Guinness record of non-focussed blog writing), I’ve narrowed myself down to three topics. I’m writing about my book/memoir. I’m writing about the roller coaster ride otherwise known as getting a book published, and from time to time I’ll write about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), the condition my son suffers from – brain damage caused by the alcohol his birthmother drank when pregnant with him. Besides it being an issue close to my heart, it is, not surprisingly, a major theme running through my memoir.

Speaking of focus, I’ll now get back to platform building. So how committed to this grand little exercise am I? I guess I’ll know for sure in the next few days as I decide whether to sign up for September's Writer’s Digest Premium Collection Program of books, webinars and independent study workshops called:  Build an Author Platform. 

Normally $428.97, but for me (and you), only $119.99. A 78% discount just for taking the trouble to register. Only 115 copies left.

The package marketers have pretty much got me hooked with their promises of what their package can do for me: Stand out to editors and agents! Determine what you want to get out of social media then go after it! Promote your talents and credentials in clever, continuous ways at no cost! Build an enviable author platform! Create a 6-point platform strategy!

I think I’m gonna do it, sign up that is. I’m fully aware that parting with a few bucks is probably the easy part. I’m also signing up for a lot of work once I digest the material and have to get cracking.

On second thought, maybe I should make that strudel after all.

If any of my readers have had experience taking Writer’s Digest courses or webinars, or ordered books from their Writer’s Digest Shop, please let me know what your experience has been. It would be good to share it with other readers, too. You can help me build my platform! For free.

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