Friday, March 26, 2010

Building a Platform. Who? Me?


Book Review:
Get Known Before the Book Deal
by Christina Katz

When I started this blog, it was with a vague notion that I had to had one. Because these days you can't be a serious writer without one. Or so I've read in blogs. So going back to the old chestnut, 'Write what you know,' I decided to blog about writing and library stuff. Platform done, right? Uh, no.

I came across Christina Katz's book at the library where I work, but decided to invest in a copy for my own personal library. It's mostly geared toward nonfiction writers, but there are a few nuggets that apply to the fiction writer, too.

Platform Building Golden Nugget #1: Christina's definition of platform makes gobs of sense, "The word platform simply describes all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership." That could be the writer's blog, Twitter account, website, teaching, podcasts, articles, etc., etc., etc. Your platform should reflect you and what you do. It's how you present yourself (and your work) and how you interact with your readers.


Platform Building Golden Nugget #2: Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Or leave your computer. You can build your platform with all the awesomeness of social media, but don't forget that meeting actual people while doing actual things is also a fantastic way to connect with future, potential or actual readers. Volunteer. Teach a class. Host an event. Sound daunting? It doesn't have to be. Start with your local library. Or community college. Or independent bookstore. Opportunities abound if you just ask.


Platform Building Golden Nugget #3: Write a mission statement. Seriously. I know mission statements are often associated with corporate style gibberish, but they can be useful. Seriously. A mission statement tells everyone who you are and what you want to achieve. Goals and action plans help you achieve your mission.

Here's an example:

I want to publish a novel. But that's too vague and out of my control. What's specific and in my control? I can have my novel in tip-top shape for the SCBWI conference this summer.

Well, that can be broken down into a measurable action plan! One thing I learned in library school was how to write an action plan. There are 5 recommended steps, and a cutesy mnemonic to go with it, SMART.

S is for Specific: The more specific my goal is, the better chance I'll be able to achieve it.
M is for Measurable: What are the benchmarks that let me know I've reached my goal?
A is for Attainable: Focus on what I can do. What's under my control?
R is for Realistic: I might want to revise my manuscript in a month, but is that kind of time commitment realistic?
T is for Time-limited: Give myself a deadline.

My mission statement is still a work in progress, but the more I work on it, the more I see how I can build my platform and my career. And if I can do it, you can, too.

And don't forget to check out Christina Katz's website for more good info.

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