Welcome to Behind “The Process”, a series of blog posts for any and all writers. By “The Process”, I mean the writing process. This blog is partly devoted to sharing tips and tools for writers. The rest is advice from a writer who insists on learning things the hard way, and wishes to share those experiences for educational purposes. I hope you find this useful–or at least entertaining.
If you’re like me, you wrote a novel and you want it to get published. Maybe you wanna self-publish, or you are going to pitch it to a small publisher, or you’re trying to get an agent (which is what I’m trying to do). However you plan to get your book out there…
That means a having stuff like a website, a social media presence, a YouTube channel, podcast, other writing gigs and so on. I’m still working on my platform. I’ve used different books and articles as resources for getting my stuff published, and in doing so, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
I’ve read that a year is pretty standard. If you plan to self-publish or not, start getting yourself out there as an author who has something in the works at least a year before you plan to publish. At least. I’ve been working on my platform seriously since August of last year. I’ve had a fair share of people ask me, “You’re done with that book right? When is it going to be for sale?”
This is good. You want to have people ready to buy your book when it finally does release, so better to have people asking When can I get that book already? than to have no one aware that it’s available, come release day.
This one is kind of a two-parter.
First, (and I think I do pretty good at this part) be consistent with your branding. Have the same name across platforms, if possible. Same picture, too. If you have multiple projects (in my case fiction writing, blogging, and podcasting), make sure they all tie into the same brand. Have one website that is central to everything. Your blog, your podcast, your fiction, your book reviews, whatever else ya got–bring it all back to the same home. I heard a prominent yoga YouTuber say that driving people toward your website is the main objective of your entire online platform. I would think the same should be true of selling fiction.
Second, (and here’s where I think I struggle) is having a brand that screams [insert your genre here]. I like my social media accounts, but I don’t build up sci-fi/dark-fantasy enough as the main focus. So that’s where I’m trying to improve.
But the main goal of all of it is to…
So try to have a decent site. WordPress has been good to me. Regardless which site you go with, make it look good. OK, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you I have the prettiest website in the world, but I’ve been working on it–regularly updating pages, changing themes, and all that funky stuff.
Once you get on social media, start blogging, and all that, you have to check in regularly. Not every day, but every few days. Once a week maybe. If someone comments, try to say something back. Get a mini conversation going. Engagement helps you all around.
I started my platform and chose not to immediately ask everyone I knew for support. I started with only a few close friends on Instagram and FaceBook. Then I went out and started looking for readers and writers whose pages genuinely interested me. Don’t, DON’T, just follow 2,000 people and hope most of them follow you back. And don’t, DO NOT, follow people, then unfollow them if they don’t follow you back. You’ll see other people do it, and it’s just annoying. Good habits build a good following, and bad habits leave you with a 1000:1 following/follower ratio. Which is fine, I guess. Doesn’t seem like genuine engagement, though.
Get out there and follow people you actually want to follow. Eventually you get a handful of followers. Then you bump into new pages and interesting accounts. Eventually people start finding you. It seemed like it was going nowhere for me early on. After a month, I had around 15-20 followers across all the different online mediums. Now I have roughly 200 or so. Still not big time numbers, but growing steadily. Like I said, I’m about 6 months in and I’m just starting to see regular daily traffic to my website, even on days I don’t post anything.
Remember that one opportunity is often a prelude to yet another opportunity. I started this blog. Someone saw it. I got invited on a podcast. Then they asked me to write blogs for them. Now I’m doing a podcast out of the same studio. So building up your platform takes time, but if you build a platform you’re proud of, it might pay off in ways beyond just trying to get something published. So keep focused on your goal, but keep an eye out for unexpected opportunities as well.
Since we’re talking about platform building…
If the feeling strikes, friend and follow me on social media, get on my email list (I won’t bombard you with emails and promotions), look for my podcast Creative Ops (host Christopher Tallon) wherever you get podcasts, and/or leave a comment below.
No matter what you do: have fun doing it.
Thanks for reading!
OK–a little bit further: