I have spent most of my adult life trying to become “more civilized;” an effort to not embarrass teen daughters, to avoid upstaging my special guy, to sound reasonable in the face of groups of people. In short, I’ve learned not to pick my nose in public, nor call attention to myself too much. I’ve “softened” myself to fit in better. Plus this softening has the advantage of eating Freddie’s PBC&B sundaes (oh heaven on earth!) without worrying about getting to the gym. It feels a little like the flea who’s banged her head on the jar lid enough that she stops jumping so hard.
Now that I have a book coming out, all that is supposed to change. The jar lid is off, and I’m supposed to leap toward the sun. Decades of toning down my dramatic side are supposed to make way for “shameless self-promotion” in a wild world of publishing. I’m supposed to have a platform. Did my publisher require this? Not at all. But every time we authors sit around our reading table and bemoan our struggles with getting published, the topic comes up.
SO, WHAT IS A PLATFORM?
I believe “platform” is just another way to say “be somebody.” The basic idea is that if you have power (are a president), expertise (Nobel prize winner) or fame (can you say “Kardashian?”), you are a personally marketable commodity. ANYTHING you put on paper will sell. You have a brand. Write whatever story you like and some ghost writer will make it happen. Then you will sell cajillions of your book and keep building on your fame and fortune. Fairy tale comes true again.
If you’re a write-from-home storyteller like me, you have to step out of yourself and make a brand happen. So here I am, Jane Doe, in need of “being someone.” I have to find a way to create the great “it” that shoots a Brad Pitt to stardom while leaving a Joe Schmoe in the “cast of thousands” column.
Ideas for building a platform include:
- Have a Facebook Page – check. My daily posts here are linked back to Facebook. Now all I need is hundreds of Facebook fans and followers. I need to also make time to search through Facebook and friend, like, and comment wherever I can. Should only take, say an hour a day.
- Create a Website – check. Here it is. Just need people to look at it. I need to ask other WordPress bloggers to come to my site, by going to theirs, seek them out, comment, like and become friends with them. Should be another hour. Not a biggie.
- Open a Twitter Account – Yep. I have one of those. To to be honest, though, I have little to no idea how this works. Yet at the 140 character limit, I could do a handful of these daily. Just a half hour or so.
- Get onto Pinterest – Haven’t reached into this form of social media yet (guilt, guilt). Still, I love photos of cool things, and the concept is fantastic. Clip all your random bits into tidy groupings of photos and quick thoughts. Half hour a day. Cool. I could do this.
- Get everybody and her sister to “like” you. Really? Is this junior high, or what? No offense meant but, REALLY? Even Gandhi had his enemies. Still, I’ll stay away from my political comments on this website. Heh, heh, heh.
- Speak in public – Oh, this is good. I am so ready for this! I don’t have much in the way of topics, little public speaking experience, and a lot of er’s, um’s, and throat clearings to throw into the mix. But hey, I know I can be a great public speaker. Just try me. I’m ready.
- Contribute regularly to other’s blogs, to other Facebook pages, to Linked-In forums, to the water coolers of the world discussions. Maybe two to three hours a day.
- AND … Do it all before your day job begins.
You know what? Sometimes I have real empathy for Cinderella.
How’s your platform coming? I’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, have a great day writing, if you can make the time.