By Dr. Lin Stepp
A Platform in the dictionary is ‘a raised level surface on which people or things can stand.’ A writer’s platform is sort of similar. It’s what you stand on as an author—your visibility as an author, who you are, the connections you have, what supports you. Jane Friedman, who has fifteen years in the publishing industry, says platform may be hard to define … but that editors and agents are attracted to authors who have this thing called “platform.”
All writers’ platforms that are successful have certain main characteristics in common or should. I call these the “four main legs of a successful platform.
(1) Leg 1: A GOOD BOOK
The first leg of good platform is just having a good book or a good product. You might talk people into buying your book via many platform venues, but if it isn’t well-written, or is riddled with editorial errors the reader will not be in line to buy a subsequent book and will be unlikely to tell others about your book with enthusiasm, increasing your future sales. Your first book and how good it is – whether you self-publish, publish with a small press, publish with a well-known regional press, or publish with a large national publishing company—sets the stage for the legs of the platform that come next.
(2) Leg 2: A GOOD AUTHOR’S WEBSITE
Once you have published a book, the second needed leg for a successful writer’s platform is to create an excellent author’s website with basic information about you, your books, and a way to contact you. All publishers expect a website. Phyllis Miller, head of an online marketing company says: “if you are truly interested in giving your book the best online marketing opportunities, you need to have your own book author website.”
(3) Leg 3 – SOCIAL MEDIA
The growing evolution of the Internet and its many connection opportunities makes a presence in Social Media the third leg of your writer’s platform. This allows as Chuck Sambuchino says to ‘connect with other individuals through websites and social media sites where people virtually gather.’ He advocates that social media allows you – in the comfort of your own home or office – to: “(1) connect, network and make friends, (2) receive information, news and learn, (3) share information that you created or found interesting, and (4) promote your work and the works of other authors whose work you admire.” The two largest of the social media sites that have been found to be particularly effective for authors are Facebook and Twitter.
(4) Leg 4: GETTING OUT THERE
“Getting Out There” is the last and final leg on the writer’s platform that all writers need to do – leaving the house to market, sell, promote, sign, and to get your sales product visible. Simply getting your book on Amazon among five million-billion other books is not getting yourself visible or seen. Becoming an author is like being Johnny Appleseed … You have to put your bag of seeds on your back and hit the road. And for every seed you plant, for every new reader you gain, you’ll have increase … if you have a good book readers like, they’ll tell their friends, and you’ll get a return on that “planting.”
In closing … to be successful as an author requires a lot of hard, dedicated, persistent effort. Most new writers are always surprised at the demands expected. A lot of that work will be within the walls of your own home and a lot will be outside those walls. But a good book, a good website, good social media interaction, and a dedicated effort to “get out there” to market and sell your book are the four basic legs of any successful writer’s platform.
Dr. Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, a businesswoman, and an educator. She is an adjunct faculty member at Tusculum College where she teaches research psychology. Her business background includes over 25 years in marketing, sales, production art, and regional publishing. She has editorial and writing experience in regional magazines and in the academic field. A USA Today and Publisher Weekly best-selling author, Lin has seven published novels, each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains. Her latest novel, Makin’ Miracles, set in Gatlinburg, was just released by Kensington and will be followed by Saving Laurel Springs in the fall of 2015 and Welcome Back in the spring of 2016. A short novel “A Smoky Mountain Gift” was included in the Christmas anthology When the Snow Falls released by Kensington Publishing in the fall of 2014 following the June 2014 release of Down by the River set in Townsend, TN. Lin’s other previously published titles include: Second Hand Rose (2013), Delia’s Place (2012), For Six Good Reasons (2011), Tell Me About Orchard Hollow (2010), and The Foster Girls (2009). Lin and her husband J.L. also published a Smokies hiking guide in January of 2014, distributed through The University of Tennessee Press, titled The Afternoon Hiker, which includes 110 trail descriptions and over 300 color photos. Lin has two grown children and two cats - and loves to hike, paint, read, teach, and speak and share about her writing. WEBSITE: www.linstepp.com
AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE: www.facebook.com/Lin-Stepp/715932788428635
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