Friday, April 17, 2009

Platform...Again


Many of you are members of ACFW. I have been taking agent Terry Burns' online course about pitching/promoting/marketing/etc. And one aspiring author wrote (Not sure who, so don't ask! If you do follow the course, then you know just how many emails we get every day!) in about just wanting to concentrate on her book instead of building a platform and publishing credentials. Terry responded (essentially) that since they get so many queries a day - if he had two aspiring authors side-by-side on his desk, both of whom had excellent writing skills, he'd choose the one with the better platform over the one with none. It's a no-brainer for an agent.

So, with that in mind, I'm now of the mind that building our platform - even for fiction - is really important. It sounds like agents aren't comparing apples to apples when it comes to those of us who aren't published. It's apples and oranges...and I'm beginning to think the orange is much heavier due to platform. *sigh*

Since we're all part of this great online writing community of encouragers and accountability, I think those of us actively seeking to build platform should stick together! If you comment in this post, then I'll assume you're of the same mindset I am and think this is important. I'll do my best to compile email addresses from your profiles and we can start a more in-depth discussion about the particulars of your platform (or lack thereof) and brainstorm about how to make it bigger!

It'll be like platform group therapy. :)

Wordle: signature

25 comments:

Jill Kemerer said...

Hi Jeannie, I'm loving "platform group therapy"! Count me in.

I hear the same refrain from several of my writer friends that they barely have time to write let alone spend time blogging/on Facebook/tweeting/etc... So they only write and save the rest for another day.

Building a platform DOES take time (and I'm not sure I know all of the ins and outs), but it doesn't have to replace writing time. I spend a few minutes on Facebook, a few on Twitter each day. The most time consuming promotional tool is my blog (I write all my posts a week in advance), but it's also the most rewarding. I love it.

I update my website once a month, and I add pages to it when I feel the time is right. In the next few months, I'll be adding a Proposals page. It won't take long to create and it will promote the books I write, even though I'm not published yet.

Publishers expect authors to promote their books. If a new author gets a contract and doesn't have any promotional tools in place, the author will be expected to put up a website and get on Twitter and Facebook pronto. I personally wouldn't want the stress of having to figure all of that out while I'm dealing with edits, art department sheets, and contracts.

Great post Jeannie!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Jeannie Campbell said...

jill - that's awesome about the proposals page on your site! i'm not that far along. i'm working on my "brand," but terry indicated that brand - while marketable - isn't platform. so this is tough! i'll count you in!

Ralene said...

I'm in!

Jeannie Campbell said...

i've already got your email address, ralene! :) looks like our little group is growing...

Tess said...

Me,too! Me,too! I'll take all the help I can get :)

Jody Hedlund said...

I like all of Jill's ideas. She is really off to a great start--it's inspirational!!

I'm not sure how important this all is for a fiction writer, however. Rachelle Garnder had an interesting post after she came back the ACFW conference last year. Here it is:

"I think I saw potential for immediate representation in about 15% of the authors I heard pitches from, which is (to my mind) fairly high. So, what made the difference between those I thought I might want to represent, and those I didn't?

→ The story itself. This was by far the biggest factor separating the projects that interested me from those that didn't."

She goes on to say more (Sept. 22, 2008 post under Writing Conference), but I think it's interesting to hear that different agents may look for different things. To Rachelle, it sounds like story is paramount.

All that to say, I still think we're better off to work on both our story and our platform. Having a weak platform won't kill the deal. But having a weak story will.

Count me in for the new group! Sounds like fun!

Jeannie Campbell said...

tess, glad to have you!

jody - you're right. different agents do look for different things. i think terry was saying that if the two authors had basically the same well-written story (making differences for plot/genre/etc) then he'd choose the one with the platform.

that said, the only reason i was wanting to put together this little group was to be more deliberate and concrete about our platform development. initiate a little accountability about how progress. i work better with that type environment. :)

Cindy said...

Definitely count me in. This is so timely for me right now! I am doing only small things on my own right now to gear up for marketing, but it's hard work. I have bigger ideas when my book is actually released--and then comes the real hard work. I think the best thing we can do is, like you said, support each other. We can give each other ideas, we can promote each others blogs or books when they come out. What a great idea!

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Jeannie,
That makes sense. Wendy Lawton blogged earlier in the week about what she looks for in writers at conferences. Her list for picking new clients wasn't based solely on the story! It was very enlightening. So, I agree that it's never too early to start networking and building our platforms!

And I think your idea of a group to hold each other accountable and help one another in this area is awesome! Thanks for initating and organizing!

Lynnette Labelle said...

Count me in. I started my blog now because I wanted to gain a readership BEFORE I started submitting. I have some time before my story will be ready, so why not? I like your idea of starting a group. Thanks. I'm going to write about this and link to your blog. Maybe we can get a few more peeps that way.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Katie said...

Wait... now I'm confused (definitely not the first time). What do you mean by brand vs. platform? Please enlighten me.

Here's my deal with platform. I don't even know where to start. And here's another thought - I realize platform is important. And I hear what Terry is saying. If two writers of equal caliber come to the table - it's the obvious choice to choose the writer with the platform over the other. I will play a little devil's advocate here though. I it's possible to spend too much time on our platform - so much so that it can interfere with the time we spend honing/improving our craft. Which wouldn't be a good thing.

Who was it that said on the loop - story is king?

Anyway - you know I'm game for the email.

Jeannie Campbell said...

i figured i could count you in. from terry's lectures, it seems platform is WHO you can reach out to, not what your subject matter expertise is (which for me--my brand--would be the therapy aspect). so i'm realizing it's different! we'll chat about it in the group.

sherrinda said...

I need all the help I can get and accountablity is extremely important! I don't have a great story yet (hopefully when Jody gets through with it, I will!) but I like the idea of learning and building platforms, so I will be ready when the time comes.

Count me in.
sherrinda(at)gmail(dot)com

Terri Tiffany said...

Loved reading all the thoughts. I agree that having a platform is important:)

T. Anne said...

Since I worked in Psych and my characters are steeped in lunacy does that count as a platform? Other than that the only thing I can think of that qualifies me to write my novels is the fact I like to write. ;)

Jaime said...

Count me in!!! :)
jamida(at)charter(dot)net

Jeannie Campbell said...

looks like we're going to have a great group, ladies!

Jessica said...

Jeannie, what a great idea. I have to find out how to take these courses on ACFW. My friend knows Terry and says he's a very nice man. :-)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

First time here - red the link at chit chat.

Platform? Like a reader base? social networking?

Jeannie Campbell said...

you got it, pseudo HS teacher. it's the people you have ACCESS to to market your book/subject of expertise. will we be including you?

Karin said...

Thanks for organizing this - I'm looking forward to it :)

Karin

Kayla said...

Oh please count me in! I can use all the help and support I can get!!!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

"Platform Group Therapy"-- You come up with the greatest titles, Jeannie! I could use all the help I can get with this platform concept.

It's really difficult when you have no specialty to drive it, though. But I'm listening expectantly!

GutsyWriter said...

Love this post. Will you accept me as a memoir writer, or do you only want fiction writers? I've had several friends focusing on writing alone and not building a platform and then regretting their lack of blogging, networking, etc., and trying to figure it all out when their book came out. I'm the reverse. I love blogging, networking and building an audience for my book, to the point where it's become an addiction. I feel less lonely and actually get a boost from comments. I feel more motivated with my revisions especially as many of my followers are not aspiring writers themselves. I feel there's a purpose to my writing. Perhaps it's all in my head, but at least it pushes me along. I try to revise 3 hours/day,and then evenings I blog, etc.
I'd like to hear more about how we can help one another. Thanks.

Cassandra said...

Can you count me in as well?

cassandrabrownwrites AT gmail DOT com

I've also made a link to your post in my weekly writer's links roundup that appears every friday on my blog. ( cassandrabrownwrites.blogspot.com )

Thanks!