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January 05, 2015

How to Build a Platform


If you’re an aspiring writer, you have probably heard you need to build a platform. Now-a-days, a writer doesn’t just pound out pages, hand it over to a publisher and let them do the rest. Oh no, a writer has to get their name out there and build a readership before they even get published. Then they have to market their book vigorously.

An author platform is your personal ability to sell books through who you are (your name), the people you know (connections), and media outlets (blogs and social networks).

*A platform has to build awareness and interest in your book. In other words, you have to make people aware of it and interested in it. Awareness and interest will prompt people to take action and buy your book because they want to read it. 
1. After reading over and over again that agents advise aspiring writers to create a blog, I finally caved and created Write with Fey. For several months I had nothing to show for my efforts. I had the illusion that after a few months I would spontaneously have success. These are the same delusions that all aspiring writers have about publishing. I didn’t give up though and now I have a blog I am proud of. Be consistent with your posts, offer good content, and comment on other blogs to get exposure.

2. Another method to build a platform is to join social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I was equally skeptical about both, but I eventually succumbed and created a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/chrysfey 
FYI: You don't need to be published or have a lot of readers to have a Facebook page. When I first created mine, the category was under "writer" because I'd only published flash fiction on ezines. After I published Hurricane Crimes, I changed the category to "author." 

With my blog and Facebook page (and other efforts listed below), I built a name for myself. You can too!
To build a platform you can also:
· Write guest posts for successful blogs and websites.
· Host authors on your blog.
· Join organizations in your niche.
· Create an e-newsletter.
· Write articles for big media outlets.
· Use personal contacts to help you market.
· Speak in public.
· Set up appearances and interviews.
· Teach classes/workshops.
· Publish . . . publish . . . publish. The more you publish, the more you’ll get readers and the bigger your platform will get.
I haven’t done all of these, and you don’t have to either. Pick 2 or 3 that sound the best to you and dedicate yourself to doing those. If one doesn’t work out, drop it and move on to another.

Just remember that it takes time, energy and dedication to build a platform. It took me three years to get recognition for what I was doing with my blog. And it took me one year and three months to reach 100 likes on my FB page. Also, doing these things are not a guarantee that you'll have a ton of sales, they are to help you get your name out there. Building an author platform is a constant work-in-progress.

So stay positive! And don’t give up!




Questions: If you’re a distinguished blogger/author, do you have additional tips for aspiring writers on what they can do to build a platform? What worked for you?


76 comments:

Nick Wilford said...

Frequently feature other authors with announcements/tour stops etc. Then they will be more likely to help you out when you have news to share. It's not a tit for tat, but it definitely helps to be a generous blogger.

Yours are all great tips! Hope you have a successful 2015. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Those are all good things to do to build a platform. Anything you can do to connect with other writers and network for more opportunities is also a plus.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've focused mostly on the blogging part, with a bit for Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. Involvement is the key.

Julie Flanders said...

I've been saying I am going to work on building a platform for years now. Maybe this year will finally be the time I actually do it LOL. Thanks for the tips!

cleemckenzie said...

And all we need is a few more hours in the day! Write a book. Google. Tweet. Write a blog and take out the garbage. Pass the vitamins, please.

Happy New Year.

Chrys Fey said...

Featuring authors on your blog is a great way to build connections. Thanks for contributing to my post, Nick! Happy 2015!

Unknown said...

Word of mouth has always worked for me in regards to getting my book out there. But like you, when I first started blogging, I was delusional! I thought I would have so many followers and fans but the reality is, you must not only write good content, but make connections with your readers. I would say the best advice is both of these means of building your platform.
I haven't tried all of your suggestions, especially the news letter. Sometimes, I feel so far behind!
I love your new banner!!!

Chrys Fey said...

Absolutely! Connecting with people is the best way to build a platform.

Chrys Fey said...

Involvement definitely is key. Not only for building a platform but gaining and keeping readers.

Chrys Fey said...

Make 2015 your platform building year, Julie. You can do it! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Time definitely is a factor that decides what an author has time to do and how long. We have to do so much to get exposure.

Happy New Year!

Chrys Fey said...

Word of mouth is awesome! People trust recommendations when it comes from family and friends. Like I said, you don't have to do all of them, just a few. Try them a few out first and maybe add another one when you have a handle on those.

Thanks, Gina! You're the first one to mention it. :D

Unknown said...

this is a great post with great info, Chrys! before my agent even offered she was telling me I really should have a blog. In the past I had a few but nothing I stuck with (I think with those i was just blogging to "get somewhere" big mistake!) I wasn't having fun. So for me, my fav thing is to just have a good time with my posts, and the other thing I find that works is consistency! people tend to overshoot and make declarations they can't possibly stick with like, "I'll blog every single day!" or "three days a week" some may be able to manage it and that's awesome, but everyone needs to know their personal limits. I could never blog more than once per week, so if I ever hit more than that (like this week I have a few posts, and next week I'll be doing a tag or two!) it's gravy :)

Unknown said...

Excellent post Chrys! Even if I don't aspire to be published I still enjoy the social platform.

SittieCates said...

Great tips. I agree that it actually takes time to build a platform. And, yes, it would be best to choose a few to easily focus on. A lovely new year to you, Chrys!

Carrie-Anne said...

I have Facebook pages for two of my books (I created them as collages of sorts, for a bloghop), but haven't created an author page yet. I'm not really sure if I should spend that kind of time and effort when I'm not making huge amounts of sales yet. A few months ago, I had a short article published in the small newspaper I used to work for, but I've still had more people congratulate me on my releases than actually buy my books.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - great tips here and I look forward to the others to come .. FB and blogging. I have to say I haven't gone out to garner followers but am thinking of publishing .. my main challenge has always been my genre/slot ... it has its advantages that I have a unique voice and blog ... but I need to publish things and get on with it ..

This year I shall improve! looking forward to the follow-up posts .. cheers Hilary

PS - just realised I hadn't clicked the follow button here ..

Julie Dao said...

These are great tips, Chrys! I have seen agents say that although a social media platform can help, it's not the make-or-break of whether an author will be successful. I use social media for fun and networking primarily, and not to promote myself. I find that it's more rewarding for me that way, and doesn't make me feel like I'm stretched too thin or that it's a chore!

Christine Rains said...

Great post. My blog is my number one tool. It's important to not only get out there but to interact as well. Here's to a fabulous 2015 for all of us! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Having a good time with your posts makes blogging worth while. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to like it. Consistency is also important. Bloggers need to set a realistic schedule and then stick to it. I'm going to attempt blogging three times a week this year. Wish me luck! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad that you can take something away from this post, David. :)

Chrys Fey said...

When you're trying to get published and build your name, everything takes time. ;) Thanks, SIttie! Happy New Year!!

Chrys Fey said...

It's important to build a platform before you're even published, Carrie-Anne, because it helps you to get readers and sales. Trust me, I used to feel the same way, but I learned. You have to connect with others to get those sales and joining Facebook or Twitter can do just that.

Chrys Fey said...

I wish you all the best with getting things out there, Hilary. Starting small works really well. It did for me. If you can send short stories to ezines and magazines, you'll be one step closer.

I hope you enjoy my follow up posts, Hilary. :) And thanks for following!

Chrys Fey said...

Nope, it won't make-or-break an author, and having a big platform (many followers) doesn't equate success, but it does help. Limiting self-promotion on social media is a must. People get tired of that. It's important to be interesting and have fun. :)

Chrys Fey said...

My blog is my number one tool too. Facebook would be second.

Cheers to that! ;)

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Excellent suggestions,Chrys.

Lisa Thomson said...

Great tips Chrys! I got interviews with three community newspapers over a 6 month time when I released my book. Those articles were amazing exposure and sales in the stores peaked. So, the old fashioned community promotions really work. On line platform is a little different. It's fabulous to blog. I didn't even know what a blog was when a local author told me I must have one established before I publish. It took a full year before really getting an audience and still, I'm not sure how my blog is related to my book sales...it's a mathematical mystery. Twitter is awesome and fun but it doesn't result in book sales. My point is online social media is not directly related to sales even though agents and publishers tell you to have that presence. Guest writing on large, niche sites is terrific exposure and increases site visits and book sales. GoodReads is the best author platform because you can reach your target audience easier and people are there to read books not only to socialize. Sorry this is such a long comment, just wanted to share my experience. :) Great post, Chrys and as always, the comments are interesting too.

Calisa Rhose said...

These are great Fey. I try some of them regularly. Some I've tried and they didn't work for me. Some didn't work 'now' but I keep going back, hoping eventually maybe they will grab on. lol
The only things I would add off the top of my head is this...

Blogging is great once you get it going. I blogged for five years before mine really took root and grew with my first contract. But just blogging isn't enough to sustain most of us. The one thing I stress to my blog guests and writer friends is to REPLY to comments. If all a commenter says is 'Hi," then say 'Hi' back!
Make it known in the blogging community that you interact because that's so important!

The other thing is...well, I forget just now what the other thing is. But-- comment. On your blog posts, your guests' posts, your own guest posts. Comment, comment, comment. Reach out to those you want to see you. Don't just sit in the corner and expect them to find you because it's cyber--they won't see you unless you leap into their path and engage them.

When they have a chance to put their book out there on a widely known blog, I never understood why writers send me a cover, blurb/excerpt and contact/buy links.
That's it? Don't they want to engage those they are hoping will buy their book? I don't post what I call buy-my-book-even-if-I-don't-have-time-for-you blogs. Personally, I skim those types of blog posts looking for something more, then move on without clicking the links. I'm sure others do as well. I don't want people skimming my page/guests' posts. I require an author to add at least one decent paragraph of something about themselves, the book, crafting of said book, craft...something to give to the readers a little of the person behind that book, instead of simply a link to take their money.

I'm done now. :)

Pat Hatt said...

The more content the better ad the broader the subject you can write the more you can bring in a different audience to. I blog mostly and fool around on twitter a bit, but that is about it.

Kelly Steel said...

Great post on building platform, thanks Chrys.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Karen!

Chrys Fey said...

Articles/interviews (if you can get them) are an amazing way to get exposure!

I had no idea what a platform was either. I had to do a lot of research. Not many writers just starting out know what it is.

You're right that online promoting doesn't directly relate to book sales. It's more about getting your name and your book out there.

I love Goodreads! I do a lot on there, not just add my books.

Don't be sorry! I love long comments! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Blogging certainly takes time. I talk more about blogging and what you should do in a post later this month. :) You're right that replying back to comments on blog posts is important. It shows visits that you're active and appreciative of the comments you get. Commenting and engaging with others on social media is how you build relationships and relationships = platform.

I also agree that adding something more than the blurb/excerpt/cover/links make interesting posts that people will pay attention to. I've learned my lesson on that. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Content is a must! I also agree about blogging about more than one subject. I've only blogged about writing, but that's changing this year. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Kelly!

M.J. Fifield said...

I'm still working on that whole building a platform thing. The social media stuff is coming along, but anything that involves me speaking to people in public? That's been a bit harder.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm still working on my platform too. I think authors are constantly working on it. I've never done any public speaking. I'm nervous just thinking about it!

Sarah Foster said...

Great post! I haven't gotten a Facebook author page, mostly because I haven't published anything yet. I'm sure I'll create one when I do. In the meantime, there's always Twitter :)

Chrys Fey said...

Twitter is good, but believe me when I say you can never start too early. When I created a page on Facebook it was actually under "writer" because I had only published flash fiction on ezines. After I published Hurricane Crimes, I changed the category to "author."

Stephanie Faris said...

There's one thing on that list that makes me want to go hide under the covers and not come out until spring--speaking in public! I overload on all the other things--I send out postcards to every bookstore, library, and school library in middle TN, plus bookmarks to the best bookstores and all the libraries. I also spend a lot of time blogging and on social media...all too avoid that thing that freaks me out--public speaking! Most of my fellow authors go from school to school doing appearances. One even teaches writing classes at her local libraries. The funny thing is, my husband came to one of my events and said I was "a natural" at public speaking (and he's spent his life speaking!). I just feel like a complete moron when I'm up there...so I hide in my house, doing all of this other stuff!

Chrys Fey said...

I am just like you! The thought of public speaking is terrifying to me. I think you're doing a fabulous job without public speaking though, Stephanie. :)

Hart Johnson said...

I'm not distinguished. I think I do have words of wisdom though, as I think it is easy to burn out--don't take on more than you can do because if you have to drop back, you end up losing your momentum. At least that's what I feel like happened to me. I was doing great and building and building, until suddenly I just couldn't keep growing. Had I paced myself, I think it would have been more sustainable.

Author Dawn Brazil said...

That's how I feel, too. I'm trying to be Wonder Woman

Author Dawn Brazil said...

Great tips! Some I've implemented but some I haven't and really needy to. It's just hard to juggle everything but I think this is my year. And I'm gearing up to add those extra steps on my ladder.

Chrys Fey said...

Words of wisdom are perfect, Hart. I'm not distinguished either. ;) I know what you mean, which is why I advised to only pick 2 or 3 methods to do. Pacing yourself is a great tip though.

Chrys Fey said...

It is hard to juggle everything. We have a lot resting on our shoulders. If only we could all have (and afford) assistants. Wouldn't that be grand? ;)

Calisa Rhose said...

I'd like to read your blogging post when it comes up. Glad I was able to contribute more than a mini book of blah-blah-blah in all that rambling! I tend to get carried away sometimes. lol

Kathryn Knight said...

Good post! Having a presence on social media is absolutely imperative these days, but it can be overwhelming. I tend to add a new site once I'm comfortable with the last one I've joined...but, only if I feel I'm going to keep up with it. Pinterest is one of my favorites, since it allows readers to see the storyboards for my novels, character inspiration, etc. PS got you followed here too, but your numbers are already great!

Chrys Fey said...

My blogging post is quite long because I cover a lot and offer many tips. But it's a good one! :) And yes, you did contribute to this discussion. I added a couple of sentences to my post based on what you said. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Keeping up with social media can be a strain, but it can be manageable if we plan ahead. I'm big at planning ahead. ;) Thank you for following my blog! It's taken a long time to get these numbers and I appreciate every single one. :)

Unknown said...

So far, I've gained readers/followers by being as much a part of the community as I can. It's hard because I'm usually so busy, but by finding and making friends with other bloggers and joining in on bloghops and groups, people gravitate towards you.

Unknown said...

The thing I learned is that you have to support others if you want support. I also think it's important for bloggers to find their own voice and figure out what they want their blog to be about so that there's some consistency with posts (and so readers can know what to expect).

Kelly Hashway said...

My advice is to let people really get to know you, not just your writing. You are a person, so don't only portray yourself as a writing machine. :)

Botanist said...

Great tips, Chrys. This is the part I most struggle with.

Tammy Theriault said...

Your platform is missing one thing. All of it was amazing from blogs to Facebook to public speaking but....never forget the bedazzle. It makes you shine!! ☺️

Unknown said...

Wow. This sounds pretty intense.

Yolanda Renée said...

A platform has to offer something, and you've conquered that aspect. Great job! Me, I'm still learning, I prefer the writing part and it shows!

Author Kat de Falla said...

Great post as usual Chrys! I thought I read somewhere you need to spend at least some portion doing promotion - 20%? I think it's all about finding a happy balance :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I sure wish I knew the secret to a successful fan base. I'm always amazed when a reader admits they follow and read my blog regularly. I don't know many who actually comment. Great list of must dos, Chrys. Thanks.

Chrys Fey said...

Making friends does lift you up. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Consistency is important and so is supporting others. To get support you have to give it. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Being real, especially on social media, is a must. Readers like to know authors are real people. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I still struggle with it, too. Building a platform is a constant work-in-progress.

Chrys Fey said...

Bedazzle does make us shine. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

It takes a lot to be an author.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Yolanda! I'm honored that you think I's conquered the author platform, but I still feel like I'm just at the bottom of what I could be doing.

Chrys Fey said...

Finding a balance is important otherwise we'll either spend all our time promoting and not writing, or writing and not promoting.

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I knew the secret, too. If I did, I'd share it with you. ;)

sage said...

I keep two blogs, but the one I really enjoy is the semi-anonymous one--sagecoveredhills. I am sure if I really wanted to built a better platform, I would combine them. The other blog is linked to twitter, facebook, etc.

diedre Knight said...

HA! The first time I heard the word 'Blog' I wondered if it referred to something unpleasant. Turns out I was half right; you mean I'm supposed to brag? Now that I realize that isn't the point at all I find that blogging is actually quite an enjoyable method of engaging, as well as a marketing platform.
Great list, Chrys - thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

I would never be able to manage two blogs! haha

Chrys Fey said...

I didn't want to blog back then but now that I do, I LOVE IT! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Nothing wrong with being Wonder Women! ;)

Yanting Gueh said...

You should be very proud of your blog, Chrys. Excellent contents here! I do have a Facebook page but don't do much interaction there. I'm enjoying Twitter more, but my favourite sites are still Goodreads and Pinterest. Blogging certainly is my most important step in building credibility as a writer. There were times I dreaded it because I didn't think my posts were interesting. But one learns in getting better and in having more faith.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Claudine! I am proud of my blog. :) I love Goodreads. I don't use Pinterest and don't think I will. It sounds like I'd get sucked into it and spend all day pinning stuff. lol