HOW TO CREATE A WRITER’S PLATFORM AND WHY?

Clip Art Graphic of a Brown Guy CharacterAs writers, we’re inclined to devote much of our time in the pursuit of our main objective and that’s to write. Most writers make lousy business people, unless their background is in a business related field.

We are imaginative people who have a passion to create, so we tend to be oblivious to the business of writing. However, one of the first things that writers need to understand is that they can write eight million stories, but if no one knows about them they won’t get published and no one will read them.

There are many reasons that it is necessary for writers to create a platform. The most basic reason is to inform the public—your potential audience—about your writing. However, the concept of a platform is a bit deeper than merely letting people know you’re a writer, it’s also your ability to personally sell books through:

  • Your own individual merit
  • Networking—personal and professional connections
  • Media outlets which can be utilized to sell your books

How well people know you and know of you, is extremely important as it relates to establishing a platform.

Well before I signed the contract for my first novel and short stories, I began using as many resources as I could think of to let people know that I was a writer and I had work to sell!

I instinctively got out in front of creating a platform for myself and my writing. Mostly I was simply geeked about the idea of people reading my work. Now, I am developing, maintaining and utilizing my platform for more focused reasons.

For the purposes of this blog post, I will assume that most of my readers are new writers or those who are just now accepting their calling. Although anyone, at any stage in their writing career needs to create a solid platform—if they haven’t already—and could benefit from the information contained here.

The following is a list of the most basic and common building blocks necessary for creating a platform.

  • A website and/or blog—the goal is to build and maintain a large and loyal readership
  • Social media—this is one of the most important aspects of building a platform as it allows for the most immediate and wide-reaching exposure you’re likely to get
  • Blog posts—this is how you are able to relate your writer’s journey to your readers and help them to learn from your experience(s)
  • An e-newsletter and/or mailing list—this helps you to maintain your readership and keep them informed of important info pertaining to your writing
  • Guest post on the blogs of other writers—this is a way for you to broaden your readership and outreach
  • Memberships in writing organizations—this helps to establish your standing and credibility within the writing community
  • Media exposure—writing articles for media outlets, public speaking and media appearances (here the BIGGER the better)

While not all of these components are going to be relevant to you and/or necessary, they are the most important to consider. In today’s market and society, a website/blog, mailing list and social media are the three most important building blocks to consider in my opinion. These three components are the ones which will account for the maximum amount of exposure you get and the farthest reaching attention you receive.

It’s important to understand that building a platform takes time and effort.

This doesn’t happen overnight!

Developing a following/readership takes perseverance and dedication. It is a continuing effort which happens daily.

The amount of effort and foresight you put into it, is directly indicative of the gains you get out of it. Simply creating a website/blog and being on Facebook or twitter doesn’t constitute having a platform.

Here are some helpful anecdotes for defining just what platforms are:

“I have a simple formula for platform: Authority + Network = Platform.”

~Roseanne Wells (Marianne Strong Literary Agency)

“A platform is the people who know and love you and your writing now, as opposed to all those hypothetical people that will know you once your book is bought and you get motivated to do all the social media stuff…built-in audience.”

~Meredith Barnes (formerly of Lowenstein Associates, Inc.)

“A platform showcases the experiences you’ve had that qualify you as an expert in your field, which advocate your successes and serve as a vehicle for your publicity.”

~Bernadette Baker-Baughman (Victoria Sanders & Associates)

Simply writing your novel or short story isn’t enough. Even getting it to the publisher or self-publishing isn’t enough. You have to establish an identity/brand, own your marketability and work diligently to cultivate your readership with every opportunity available.

In closing, I’d like to encourage any writer—new or established—to consider taking the time and making the effort to build and maintain a solid platform. It is a highly essential component of selling your books/stories and connecting with loyal and well entertained readers.

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WRITERS WORKSHOP OF SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

My publisher, Seventh Star Press is proud to announce that Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy,  an incredible book by editor Michael Knost, is now available in eBook format, with print availability in trade paperback due on Wednesday. This release features contributions from a sensational list of writers such as Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harry Turtledove, Joe Haldeman, and many other top names in genre fiction, Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is a highly valuable contribution to the speculative fiction community developed by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost.

Final-WW_cover-WebWriters Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is a collection of essays and interviews by and with many of the movers-and-shakers in the industry. Each contributor covers the specific element of craft he or she excels in. Expect to find varying perspectives and viewpoints, which is why the reader will find many find differing opinions on any particular subject. It is a book with something to offer all levels of writers, from those seeking to get published for the first time to others who have numerous releases to their credit.

This edition also features several original illustrations from award-winning artists Matthew Perry and Bonnie Wasson. In addition to their own illustrations, a special collaborative piece created by the two artists is featured in the book.

Available by mid-week in trade paperback format, Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is now available in eBook format for the Kindle and Nook at the following links for just $4.99

CLICK THE LINKS BELOW TO LEARN MORE & GET YOUR COPY TODAY!!!

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle UK

Nook

http://seventhstarpress.blogspot.com/2013/04/writers-workshop-of-science-fiction.html

ARE YOU A WRITER?

typewriter_1_lgAre you a writer and if so, why do you write and what do you write? Are you a starry eyed reader who thinks that the writing life is an exclusive society of posh, well to-do people who revel in success? These are serious questions you must ask yourself if you dare to write. I didn’t ask myself these questions at first and my awakening was not so much rude, as it was extremely educational.

The following quote is from Fantasy writer, R.A. Salvatore:

There’s way too much pain in this business (writing) for anyone who doesn’t have to write. I always tell beginning writers, “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.”

~ R.A. Salvatore

Salvatore’s advice is sage. In my experience, I’ve learned that writing will confound you, make you angry, depress you and attempt to drive you insane. However, if none of the above puts you into a psychiatric hospital then it can also be quite rewarding. Though if you’re looking for fame and fortune, then writing isn’t likely to be your ticket to it.

Writing is a discovery and a continuous learning process. If you stop learning, stop reaching for that forever elusive perfection (The Perfect Story) which writers always pursue then you’re not writing. Writing is an exploration which serves to help the author discover things about themselves which they never realized or ignored, and also serves as an expression of the author’s thoughts and emotions which both entertain and inform the reader. If you’re extremely lucky you will accomplish all of this, and do it well. If you’re like most of us, you will attempt it and maybe your readers won’t notice your mistakes.

While pursuing your goals as a writer, it’s important to learn and apply the proper mechanics which all writing instructors drill into you. Rigid rules which when followed will help you to produce fair, if not great work. However, it’s important to understand that writers often break those rules by following them and therein is the trick…the story itself.

Your story is the means by which you can break the rules successfully once you’ve mastered the rules in the first place. Confusing? Yes, it is. Now you can get a glimpse into the mania of a writer. In my humble opinion, what you write isn’t too important as long as it’s good. So if you write poetry, essays, short stories, novels or all of the above, no matter what genre make it good. I won’t list the rules which make a good story in this blog post (perhaps in a future post), because that is a lengthy list, and not the purpose of this posting.

Every writing instructor I’ve encountered on the collegiate level (for one reason or another), looks down at genre fiction from the lofty height of their literary perches. These professors often expound that the substance of anything outside of literary fiction is mostly garbage. While is some cases this may be true, the same can also be said about literary fiction.

DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS OF WRITING GENRE FICTION, IF THAT IS YOUR PASSION!

There is an audience for your work, and you can succeed. Writing instructors are paid to pontificate about the higher quality of writing that goes into literary fiction, as they expound upon the merits of avoiding genre fiction. Let the haters hate, because that’s what they do, and they’re quite good at it.

If you choose to write genre fiction (like me), make sure you plot out your stories very carefully and don’t get caught up in the nuances of the world you create. Your story must have a human element in order to reach the reader on a human level. This can be very challenging and (like myself), you will undoubtedly miss this mark at least once in your career. Not every story an author writes will resonate with every reader, even though that should be the writer’s goal.

Should the author be embarrassed?

Should they hide themselves away like a pariah?

Not if they learn from it. Some element within your writing must touch upon what we know to be true to the human condition. A former instructor of mine gave me that advice and I ignored her on a story I wrote…let’s just say the next critic was downright rude. I took what criticism had merit to heart and chocked the rest up to their disdain for commercial fiction.

If nothing and no one can dissuade you from your passion for writing, then welcome to a career of pain, suffering and blessed rewards!

Writing in and of itself is no easy endeavor, and requires quite a large chunk of your soul to achieve. So, no matter what area of writing you practice, (from business writing, poetry to essays to screenwriting to prose, short stories, novels or flash fiction) I believe that it is important, and makes a contribution to the fold, at least on some level. Quality writing isn’t exclusive to literary fiction; it can be found in all genres. And what’s most important is that readers are given what all readers want…A GOOD STORY!

MO*CON 2013: MIND & SPIRIT OF THE ARTIST

Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus

This week I interviewed Maurice Broaddus, an urban fantasy author with dozens of published short stories to his credit and a novel trilogy titled, The Knights of Breton Court. We discussed the annual writing convention he hosts called Mo*Con and held in Indianapolis, IN.

 

How did Mo*Con come about?

Mo*Con came about for 3 different reasons.

First, my wife wanted to experience conventions and the thought was to create a convention that she could experience firsthand.

Secondly, at the conventions I attended I had great conversations with other writers and I wanted to replicate that experience in a room party environment as the convention itself. The conversations were relaxed and covered a wide range of topics from religion, politics, current affairs and of course writing.

Third, I wanted to do a writing convention at a church and Mo*Con was a prime opportunity to do this. At the time, I was running a local church and I basically wanted the church to be a safe place for these types of conversations.

What prompted you to name the convention Mo*Con?

A friend of mine—Chesya Burke—knew I hated nicknames. Mo, being a nickname for Maurice lead to the name Mo*Con. From there it just seemed to stick.

Who sponsors Mo*Con?

In the beginning, Mo*Con was a one man operation. I ran everything by myself until a friend suggested that I look to other sources of support to make the convention happen.

I have partnered with organizations such as: Cities of Refuge, Broad Ripple United Methodist Church, Community-supported.org and Indiana Horror Writers (IHW).

Who is the intended audience for Mo*Con?

All are welcome, but primarily those who are interested in hearing writers speak on social issues and the intricacies of their craft. Those most involved consist of horror and fantasy readers and writers. However, we want to spoil writers and celebrate their contributions, while involving the community.

How do you see Mo*Con evolving in the future?

It’s an ongoing process. We’ve had everything from a Celtic Rock concert, a puppet show and a horror writer who delivered a sermon at the church. We intend to let it evolve organically and simply see where it takes us.

 

MO*CON 2013

MO*CON 2013

So, if you’re in Indianapolis during Mo*Con do yourself a HUGE favor and stop by on Friday, or better yet go ahead and RSVP purchase your tickets now!The event will be held at Broad Ripple United Methodist Church in Indianapolis from May 3-5, 2013. Full registration price is $75. If you can’t make it but would like to support Mo*Con, why not become a non-attending sponsor.

For more information, visit: http://mocon.indianahorror.org/ or

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-fantasy/108464595844706?fref=ts#!/events/357048291062838/?fref=ts

A WRITER’S DEPRESSION: PART TWO

Hello everyone!

I’m picking off where I left off in the two-part series dealing with Writer’s Depression.

Depressed Writer Clipart As a writer how suffers from depression, I know first-hand how devastating the effects of it can be.   The symptoms in and of themselves are enough to weigh a person down like an anchor, but how can  we fight against it? How can we win a battle raging inside of our minds?

One therapeutic strategy for depression is exercise!

Given that quite a few writers live a somewhat sedentary lifestyle (I mean we do sit down and write…a   lot!), it’s no wonder that we don’t really do much in the way of formal exercise.

I’m guilty as charged.

I find it to be a very daunting task to exercise. Mostly because of physical ailments/conditions which limit my mobility at times. However, at least two of my current conditions could be all but eliminated with moderate exercise and a proper diet.

Another part of the equation is that if you’re depressed already, any task which you find daunting in the first place can become even more so if you’re already in that dark place mentally and emotionally.

Experts recommend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day, 5-6 days a week of moderate exercise, coupled with eating a healthy diet, something which is also therapeutic for depression.

Often writers keep a daily journal and this also is a way in which to combat depression. Think of it as a way to daily exercise your inner demons and purge those thoughts and emotions which contribute to your depression in the first place.

Many of my writing peers have told me that they began writing in the first place to cope with depression. They found it to be an escape from this stresses of day to day life, which they felt were the culprits in their depressed states. But taking into account the stresses of deadlines and the task of developing a story draft that a writer feels comfortable with, can lead them back into the dark place they had sought to escape.

The most important component in dealing with depression for writers and everyone in general—in my opinion—is to first identify that depression is real and serious. Then seeking professional advice or at the very least seeking a writing group which allows you to express your feelings in an open, non-judgmental forum.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’ve employed at least two of these strategies at some point in my journey and some worked better than others for me. It’s all a matter of doing what’s best for you as an individual, but the most important thing is to DO SOMETHING!!!