I’m not awake enough to be blogging. Yet here I am!
In marketing-speak, an author’s platform is the brand she creates for herself. It’s the face that the public initially sees, eventually recognizes and hopefully comes to trust.
Today’s blog challenge prompt asks what important steps I’m taking to build my platform.
The concept of platform is — like many other writing concepts — way more tangible when writing nonfiction. If you’re writing about, say, cats… because mine are staring at me… so yeah… cats… then you should probably prove that you know a thing or two about them. Maybe you’re a veterinarian. Maybe you’re a kitten rescue mommy. Maybe you’re a crazy cat lady. There’s a reason you’ve chosen your topic: You know it. You live it. So you write about it. Then, you build your platform (i.e., your social sites, blog posts, public speaking engagements, etc.) around your knowledge to prove you know your shit.
Now, let’s take a giant step away from reality and jump into a fiction platform.
I know all about the Ancestral Lands. I understand the magic system of my alternate world, and how it comingles with the reality of Earth. My characters are my best-invisible-friends. There is no one who knows my world and my stories like I do. Therefore, I’m the girl for the particular job of owning, exploring and sharing my world with readers-far-and-wide.
It kind of sounds like cheating, doesn’t it?
Building a cohesive and true-to-you fiction platform is hard work that requires forethought and diligence.
I could come on here and talk about how I’m blogging, building websites, coordinating color schemes, making sure everything is all matchy-matchy and accurate. I could talk about TweetDeck and HootSuite and MailChimp. I could discuss contests and ad campaigns.
But those are the outer-layer aspects of building a platform… that’s the “to-do” side of platform building that we all hear All. The. Freaking. Time.
I want to dig deeper.
There are three aspects of building my platform that are central to every action I take: Authenticity, Consistency and Fearless Tenacity.
When building your platform, I recommend that you be exactly and wholly YOU. Remember… once you get out there and you’re known, you’re going to be expected by the public to be the person you’re portraying yourself to be. If you put on an act, you’re going to have to carry on with that act for… well… ever.
Do you really want to be something you’re not for the rest of your life so that your soon-to-be fans don’t turn on you like a pack of rabid hyenas?
I mentioned a few days ago that I had the privilege of meeting Chuck Wendig at Phoenix ComiCon. I’ve followed his blog over at terribleminds.com for a couple years now. When I met Chuck, and when I sat in his panels, he was – beyond doubt – exactly the same person who writes those witty, sarcastic blog posts on Terrible Minds.
After following Chuck for as long as I have, I’ve seen him make and admit to mistakes, dive too far down the wrong rabbit holes, or position himself against a wall. He’s the first one to say, “You know what? I don’t like what I’ve done here, so I’m fixing it.”
It’s a fearless sort of ownership of his own self and brand that lets his audience know that he is both trustworthy and human.
In building a fiction platform, we’re not expected to be “experts in our field” because our field is completely imaginary. But we will be pigeonholed by readers. We will be scrutinized by the media. We might just be shunned by certain groups.
As long as you are being true to you, and focusing on your own authenticity… the judgment and criticism should just roll off. Your readers… your desired demographic… will get you. That’s what matters.
I have: A blog, a website for my book, a website for my consulting business, a Facebook page for all-things-writing, a Twitter account for all-things-writing, a Tumblr account, a YouTube channel… this list goes on. And on. And on. And it’s not shrinking any time soon.
I spent a lot of my free time this week updating graphics and text across my social outlets so that everything matched. I made sure links worked, email addresses were correct and response forms said exactly what I wanted them to say.
Additionally, I’ve been posting every single day on this blog. I talk about a handful of topics here: Both the act and the business of writing, my publishing progress and occasionally a rant about a social issue — which I typically, somehow relate back to writing.
The key idea here is regular and consistent posting.
Internet readers have short attention spans. I lump myself in that group, too. If we’re following a blog, and suddenly that blog goes silent for a week without warning, we tend to move on.
Keep your readers engaged by regularly posting a consistent — but not repetitive — message on your array of similarly-branded social outlets. Take the time to set them up. Make the time to evolve them with your progress. Keep readers engaged with refreshing and lively content on a regular basis. Tease them with upcoming information and reveals. Then stick with it, and make sure those teasers convert to exciting announcements! But whatever you do… don’t stop.
If you want people to believe and trust in your platform, you must first believe and trust in yourself. Even when you don’t.
For the last several days, I’ve been an emotional mess. Seriously, I have. Uncertain, scared shitless and downright anxious about my own future.
I’m better now, and mostly because I tenaciously talked myself into being okay.
When I write blog posts about my industry, I write them from my truest understanding. When I re-read them, I give me confidence in myself.
I know what the fuck I’m doing. And if I don’t, I educate myself until I do! And I don’t talk about it until I have a modicum of both understanding and practice under my belt. But then, I speak with authority and confidence.
And if I’m wrong about something, I’ll be the first to say it. Right here, publically, without fear.
Being fearlessly tenacious goes hand-in-hand with being authentic. State your truth, act with confidence, and in the event of a misstep or misspeak, admit it, apologize (and if you’re me, make some snarky, sarcastic comments), and move on. You’ll ring true as human, both approachable and trusted.
Build your platform based on YOU. Not who you want to be, but who you are. Realize that your platform grows with your knowledge and the acceptance of you. Allow that natural progression to take place. Don’t overstep yourself, but never undersell yourself, either.
Be authentic to yourself; be consistent in your message; above all, be fearlessly tenacious. Never give up.
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