Julie has agreed to share insights on the all-important strategy for authors of building a platform to make writing marketable to agents and publishers.
Thanks to Mark and Kym for allowing me to be their first guest-blogger. They have asked me to talk about building a platform. And while I openly admit I am no expert and have a long way to go in understanding how this is done, if my steep and continual learning curve can benefit another writer, I’m more than glad to share.
Let It Shine
When I was a little girl we used to sing a simple, little song in Sunday school. We’d hold up our pointer finger, like a candle, and belt out with all sincerity: This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
For the second verse, the hand motions got a bit trickier. While still holding up our pointer finger on one hand we’d cup the palm of our other hand, imitating a candle snuffer-- even though we didn’t have a clue what that was. Still, we’d soulfully sing: Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Those early lessons in evangelism were probably lost on us as children.
Lighting the Candle
But the lesson of letting your light shine is one we can apply to the concept of building a writer’s platform. Really, the whole point of a platform is taking your writing light out from under the bushel and letting it shine.
It doesn’t take a lot of internet research to learn the Big Houses of publishing are spending less and less money on marketing and expect that the authors will do the legwork to promote their own books. Long gone are the days of high-profile displays in a big-box bookstore. Even if you are yet unpublished, or are a freelance writer, like me, you still want to develop a platform—a public exposure, a showing of followers.
As my friend Sunny Frasier from Oak Tree Press has told me, publishers, acquisition editors and even agents may ask you about your platform efforts and plans before they will even consider taking you on as a client. With as many queries as people in the industry receive, they are more likely to work with the writer who is already out there holding up their shining candle.
There are many venues to consider when building a platform, including blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, guest-blogging for other writers or sites, and many others I’m just beginning to learn about. But the end goal is the same: to reach readers, other writers who can help you promote your work, become a recognizable name, and increase your odds of publication when the time comes.
Shine From the Inside
Almost all the platform and writing gurus out there will tell you building a platform is about selling a product and you are the best product. Promoting your writing or books is only effective if people are drawn to you. Whatever avenue you choose to build your platform, be a personality people can relate to and like.
Hide yourself and your writing under a bushel? No way! Let it shine!
For more information on building a platform vs. selling your book, check out this great article by literary agent, Rachelle Gardner.
A Bit of Bio
Julie Luekenga writes as Julie Luek and is a freelance writer. Her work can be seen in regional and national magazines including Dog World, Vibrant Life, Coaching and Athletic Directors, and others. She is also a bi-weekly contributor to the women’s writing site, She Writes, and a monthly contributor to the blog Chiseled in Rock. She is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and is author to two blogs, A Thought Grows and In Fine Company.
Thanks, Julie, for these generous thoughts. Be sure to check out these ways to to contact Julie yourself: