Here is the fourth installment of author platform advice from Get Known Before the Book Deal author Christina Katz.
20 Dual Questions About Your Author Platform
#4: Where is the best place to build a platform? / Where will you build your platform?
By Christina Katz
A lot of people today think that the only place they need to get known is online. Frankly, I think going online right out of the gate is a mistake if your objective is to build a book-deal worthy platform. Certainly, you will eventually need and want to get known online. And the Internet is a great place for getting known. But first you need to know what your specialty is. Hopping online before you know what your specialty is like hopping in the car without a destination in mind. Sure you’ll drive around, you’ll use gas…but you may never actually get anywhere.
And before everyone starts jumping down my throat, there’s nothing wrong with simply “hanging out” online. Everyone does it. But if your objective is platform development, then the Internet is very likely better as your final, not your first, testing grounds. For example, Cindy Hudson recently landed a book deal with Seal Press called Bonding Through Books: Your Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Naturally, she’s online today with a burgeoning web presence that includes a Web site, a blog, an e-zine, and social networking. But Cindy did not find her specialty topic online. She drew on ten years of experience creating and maintaining mother-daughter book clubs for her two daughters right where she lives.
See what I’m saying? Cindy’s specialty (credible expertise on a specific topic) not only helped her write the book proposal that landed the agent, who helped her get the deal; it guides her promotional steps on a daily basis both live and online. Before Cindy grew her online presence, which has taken over a year so far, she attended conferences, took classes, joined organizations, wrote articles, penned book reviews for young readers and connected with a writing mentor. Her specialty guides the construction of her online presence and direct how she spends her time online. Without this kind of focused intention, you could spend a lifetime online and never get any closer to the kind of platform that can attract the attention of agents and editors.
So don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Internet is all. The in-person interactions Cindy has had with others—for example, she met her book editor in-person at a writer’s conference—have been just as important as time she spends online. And without a clear and distinct specialty and mission, Cindy would have never managed to do all the footwork it took to go from book idea to book deal in under two years.
So, if you are thinking that the Internet is the only place you need to be with your platform, think again. Unless your specialty is Internet-specific, chances are good that your specialty topic has more to do with how you spend your time offline, than with how you spend your time online.
Think about it. Then get clear about what makes you unique and distinct offline before you jump online and start clicking.
Question #3: Where will you build your platform?
I’m guessing you will build your platform offline and online. Before you jump online, take a look at how you spend your time offline. Specifically what do you do in the real world that builds credibility in your area of expertise? If nothing, then someone else with more balanced credibility is going to trump your online platform efforts. What you do offline needs to match up with what you do online.
My question for you: Where will you build your platform? What steps will you take offline? What steps will you take online? Be sure to ground your platform in the real world, not just online.
Please share your experience by commenting to this post.
Christina Katz is author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platformand Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She works on incremental writing career development with one hundred students a year and is the publisher of the e-zine Writers on the Rise. To learn more, visit http://www.christinakatz.com.