Start Building a Platform

I recently received a letter from a woman telling me that her friend was a very talented and inspiring writer, she said:

“I don’t know where to begin helping her get her work read. I thought you would be the perfect person to ask. She isn’t very internet savvy, so I am helping her in that regard. Any advice, links, contacts, etc. would be most appreciated!”

I’d like to answer this question, but I have to inform you that this is only a glimpse of the many possibilities out there. I couldn’t even begin to put them all into one post, but I will share a few that come to mind. I’ll be sharing much more information over the next few months, so don’t forget to bookmark this page!

An Online Presence

Since I AM internet savvy, the web is where I started, and I’ve seen that the internet has helped many other writing friends get noticed, and move their way up the publishing ladder.

I like blogging, but I do think that the majority of the time a blog goes unnoticed unless the author of that blog is involved in the blogging community. That and the blog should be kept up weekly if not daily.

There was a time when my first blog was collecting up to 85 comments/post, but I was commenting back and forth in those days. Once I got busy with my online magazine, my little blog slowed down accordingly. Therefore, if you hope to use a blog to get yourself out there, you have to be willing to update and promote the blog.

Here’s the exception. If the blogger has a high profile elsewhere, such as a speaking platform, or they are a celebrity, then her audience may already be built in, and the need for promotion is eliminated.

Great Titles

Something I learned a long ago, is that a website only has about 20 seconds in which they must answer this question: “What’s in it for me?”

A reader won’t stick around to check out your writing unless you offer them something that holds their attention. It’s much like a book cover. Sometimes all they see is the spine of your book. Does it stand out or pale in comparison?

Why is your writing unique, what can your writing give them that a billion other websites out there can’t?

One way to achieve this is by headlining your articles with a catchy title. If you’re looking for a few tips, check out this article, “6 Innovative Ways to Craft Awesome Titles.”

Contests & Giveaways

When I launched my book, The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife, I gave away about 1,000 PDF copies of the book the first night. The catch was that I asked everyone who received a free copy of the book to put a link to the Amazon sales page on their Facebook page. When you think about it, I bought myself 1,000 free advertisements and it didn’t cost me a cent. The book was an Amazon best-seller, and so I really didn’t really lose anything in the end, but I did gain a lot of new readers.

Contests are a great way to attract readers to a website, and you really don’t have to offer a large prize. If you have a small website, however, you might have to offer a compelling prize to draw readers in.

Be a Monthly Contributor

There are thousands of group blogs on the net, many of which accept monthly contributors. They don’t pay for submissions, but they normally include a blurb about the author along with links to their social media sites. This is an awesome way to connect with other readers in your genre.

Public Speaking

But what if, like the reader above, the author isn’t internet savvy, yet still wants to be published?

Public speaking is a great way to connect with new readers. When I was brand new to public speaking, I didn’t charge a fee, but I did ask if I could offer my books for sale on a back table. Even if you don’t have a book out yet, you could offer a small pamphlet.

But here’s the thing. I strongly suggest that you get a website (even if it’s a simple landing page), because you don’t want to lose any connections you’ve made. You need to supply each and every listener with some contact information so you can keep in touch. Perhaps book marks would be a good fit.

Oh, and before I move on to the next topic, rest assured that anyone can learn to speak. I took a few classes that taught me some tips and gave me practice in front of a room. I was horrific when I started, but today I’m absolutely comfortable addressing a crowd.

Whether you traditionally publish or self publish, you should learn to public speak because every successful author should be able to address a room of admiring fans.

Create a Zine

If you aren’t a speaker, then consider putting your writing to work by producing a “zine.” A zine is like a magazine, but much smaller. You can often find them at bookstores or at coffee shops, where they are free. Those are the kinds that I like, because you can produce them inexpensively, and have advertisers pay for the print run. Writers have had to get creative to get their zines noticed. I have started seeing them for seniors, parents, etc. What about for SAHM’s or Christians? What about a zine for singles?

Anthologies

Here’s another idea, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites! Get a group of writers together and create an anthology. Art Bookbindery publishes group anthologies all the time. Normally each writer takes a separate chapter and everyone writes on a specific theme. Anthologies are good because the book is promoted by a group of people, and if you are self publishing, the cost is less/person.

I’d also suggest that you look around to see if any books are accepting submissions. If I hear of any, I’ll post them on the site here.

I was published in two anthologies before publishing my own book. It helped to get a few extra readers and a publishing credit to my name.

I also have two friends who have been published in Chicken Soup. One is a published author; the other is a stay-at-home mom who thought she’d give it a try. Both have a great addition to their resume, which helps in getting them up the next rung of the ladder. Always keep the ladder analogy in mind–each rung gets us closer to the top where our writing gets noticed.

A Top-Notch Resource

As far as resources go, I’d suggest picking up the book Platform* by Michael Hyatt. It’s one of those books that you’ll want to read twice!

The First Step

I’ll close with one last thought. I don’t believe that an author sells books as much as a book sells an author. Once an author has a book in hand, that person can use the book to further promote themselves by sending it out for review, having online blog tours, book signings, giveaway promos, back of the room sales, etc. A book can open doors to speaking events, radio interviews, and public appearances. It can be the first stepping stone to a long and prosperous publishing journey.

Art Bookbindery specializes in short-run printing, which is great for writers who are just starting out. Visit their website, where you can glean a few more ideas.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I hope to cover many more in the months to come. Sign up for my newsletter below, so you don’t miss a post!

*Amazon affiliate link.

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