The more people who know you, the more publishers will want to get acquainted. That’s an over-simplified explanation of a writer’s platform, but it’s functionally true. Although publishers will always care more about the quality of your fiction, having a platform definitely helps seal the deal. Both the publishing industry and your target audience have changed a lot in the past few decades, however, and platform-building has changed with them. So, what should you be doing in the Twenty-First Century to build your ultimate writing platform?
First off, look for low-work, high-return opportunities. Setting up your own blog, YouTube channel, or other content platform takes a lot of effort you would probably be better off spending on your actual book. That doesn’t mean these kinds of platforms don’t pay off, but you don’t have to ‘go big or go home.’ The internet is a huge place, and there are lots of established blogs, websites, and e-zines looking for content. Why try to run a website when you can provide guest posts? This is also a great way to build contacts within the industry. Influencer connections matter to publishers, so this is actually a great way to build a platform fairly quickly.
The other popular online option is, of course, to start a blog. This is totally fine, and it can help you develop your skills while simultaneously building a platform. Keep in mind, though, that a combination of strategies usually works best. If you take the time to build original content online, you will still need to write those guest posts to draw in a broader readership and establish those critical connections.
As powerful and important as the internet may be, never underestimate the importance of face-to-face interactions. People may not remember the author pic from your most popular blog post, but they will remember the presenter they spent an hour listening to at a convention. Get social.
Go to conventions that appeal to both you and your target audience. Present whenever possible. Dig deep into niches, and have fun! Writing a steampunk dystopian novel? You’re in luck. There are MANY small steampunk conventions around the country, and many offer discounts (or even free passes) to presenters. The same is true of many other fiction sub-genres, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you’ll make a big impression very quickly. You may also get to meet established writers in your field on a more professional level! Although touring authors are almost always happy to meet fans, introducing yourself as a fellow presenter at a convention carries a little more weight.
A good platform reaches your target audience. That is the single most important thing to take away from this post. Although you can make a dozen YouTube prank channels, they won’t help you as an author’s platform if you write fiction for middle aged mothers. So, remember who you want to engage, then find the right spaces to interact. Get online, but get out of the house, too. Meet people, establish connections, and never ever use platform-building as an excuse to procrastinate on your writing.