Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Authors - Build Yourself a Platform and Stand Above the Crowd!

A little over a week ago, I attended the annual NHWP Writers' Day.  As an author myself, I've always encouraged writers and authors at all levels of experience to get involved in your local writing community.  You can learn about writing technique and how to market yourself as an author.  You can network with a myriad of interesting people and hear Pulitzer Prize winners read from their work.  You might also meet your future agent or publisher!  Most importantly, writing conferences get you out of the house, which is essential for your average, introverted, near-hermit-like writer, like myself.

At this year's conference, I learned about the importance of generating publicity and about developing a good PGP (protagonist, goal, problem).  The most useful bit, however, came from the workshop, entitled, "It's all about Platform, Baby!" on how to build an Author Platform. Catherine Blake, president of Sales Protocol International, presented the workshop, which served as a great motivator to get me working on my own platform (apparently having a sparkly throne no longer cuts it).

An Author Platform is a piece of work that presents the author's credentials and expertise (basically your strengths) along with a relevant personal story that ties into the author's life and background (e.g., after meeting so many young boys who say they hate reading, author, Mary Contrary, decided to write stories targeted specifically for these boys). Your platform is meant to convey that you know what you're doing and have the goods to make it as an author. According to industry experts, platforms are becoming a must-have, and as I always listen to the experts, I determined to build myself a platform right away (preferably out of brick - sticks and straw have proven unreliable and leave you vulnerable to Big Bad Wolves).

While it's a good idea to have an author platform, creating one isn't exactly a piece of cake. The one thing most of the attendees at the workshop struggled with was how to develop a platform as a fiction writer.  We fiction writers don't have the years of experience that give non-fiction writers the expertise to write their book.  For example, John Green, a Landscape Architect and avid gardener for 30 years, introduces his book, Gardening for Geeks!  Obviously, Mr. Green has the goods to back him up.  Personally, while I've done all sorts of things, I really haven't done anything that demonstrates my expertise in making fantasy worlds (other than that I love to daydream about ruling the universe).

Or have I?

After sitting down and working on my resume (a very useful tool for building your platform), I started to see how much my past experiences relate to what I want to do AS AN AUTHOR.  I started to focus less on what I write (although there was some of that) and more on the skills that show I can do this job.  My goal was to make the reader think - Here's an individual who never gives up, who has and will continue to market her own book, who can talk to people and run workshops, and who can even protect me in battle with her tomahawk-throwing skills.  She's AMAZING!

Or something like that.

What I've done with my platform is different than what I've seen other authors present (visit your favorite author's web page and read their bio to see what I mean).  I'm not sure if my approach works, so let me know what you think.  Ideally, I'd like to strike up some conversations about this process and give feedback so that everyone can benefit.

To view my story/platform and resume, click on the link below. 

My Platform

When you've learned all you can, I want you to get cracking on building a platform that will help you stand above the crowd (but no thrones, please - that idea has been taken)!


Kristina Schram said...

I've already had some feedback, but it regards formatting. I put my story first, then my resume so I won't put people to sleep!

Kendra said...

This is awesome! As a person who only knows you as a mom and friend, this adds a whole new component of knowledge! I like how you have really put yourself out there! Great job!

Kristina Schram said...

Thanks, Kendra! Right back at ya with all your crafty ways! You are quite the artiste!