|Yesterday, the Prep assignments centered around marketing and audience. In the Prep forum, several discussions have cropped up about building a writer's platform. Participants have had some good advice about establishing a website, maintaining a blog, and creating a presence on social media. But in my opinion, all the advice I've ever read on this topic, while not incorrect, has been missing one key ingredient, and it's the ingredient that makes the difference.
My two cents, reposted from the forum:
Your platform isn't just about your writing. It's about YOU.
This is a BRAND you're building. Have you chosen a delicate border for your website laced with pretty flowers? You must be feminine... even if you're trying to write a war novel, your brand gives you away as having a softer side. Bright colors on your blog? You're either young, or you love young people (and probably target them as your readers.)
What's your personality? What are your interests? If you have a hobby, but it's not something you necessarily write about, it's part of your brand. Passionate about political topics or social concerns? Part of your brand. Are you a forklift operator in your day job? IT'S PART OF YOUR BRAND.
Just like your characters should be whole, well-rounded people, so should your author persona. Why? Because it makes you more memorable. Do you have any idea how many authors out there are saying things like, "I want mass appeal," or "my target audience is all readers!"?? If that's truly your goal, then expect to get lost in the crowd.
Readers will not magically stumble across your book. Even with a publisher, you will have to work to grow your readership. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool in literature (out of the last dozen books you read, how many did you read because someone suggested it to you?) - but word-of-mouth only works if you have initial readers to start spreading the word. The stronger your grassroots following, the faster word of your book will spread (assuming your followers enjoyed it.)
And where do you think those grassroots followers will come from? They're your friends and family. Your writing peers here on WDC. The people you do that hobby with on Tuesday nights. The folks down at the soup kitchen where you serve the homeless on Saturdays. The coworkers who drive forklifts with you at your place of employment.
So build a platform - a brand - that celebrates you, the author. Be intimate with the world. Stop with the safe, uber-professional author platform that makes you just another one of the masses who are all trying to accomplish the same thing in the same way. Put yourself out there so you stand out, because YOU are the only YOU, and you are more than just another author making a cookie-cutter blog and website and trying to catch a break.
You're so much more than that.