Platform Building

by Karin Abarbanel

“There is a time when you have your artist’s hat on and a time when you have your seller hat, your professional hat on…Platforming and branding amplify your reach. Both make it easier to sell your writing.” Hillary DePiano

“Author platform” and “branding” — NaNoWriMo-ers racing to meet their word counts and many authors give short shrift to the business end of writing. For many of us, getting the word out about our work and actually selling books in a digital world can be daunting.

Help is at hand! In “Branding and Building Your Author Platform,” Hillary DePiano shared user-friendly advice about gaining exposure and building audiences. A dynamic playwright, blogger, and author, Hillary is also a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison and author of NaNo: Now What?* Her wide-ranging NaNoWriMo workshop, hosted by the Montclair Public Library and the Write Group, was packed with helpful advice and insights. A few highlights:

Stand out: “It’s harder than ever to get your work noticed: it’s a very crowded market…Editors and agents really like it if you are already out there…The bigger a presence you are, the harder it will be for someone to say no to what you want to write.” An author platform is everything that helps you stand out from the crowd. Branding, how you present yourself in public, gives people an idea of what to expect.”

Be easy to find: Building an author platform can take many forms: Creating a website, writing a blog, hosting a podcast, being on Internet shows, finding podcasts in your genre, doing video interviews, appearing on local access TV or college radio stations. Blogs are ranked higher in search results than websites and they can be a great avenue for audience building. Blogger (run by Google), WordPress.com, and Tumblr are all free, user-friendly platforms.

Make human connections: “People are more likely to buy from someone they know and like. A good platform and brand makes strangers feel like they know you. Identify your ideal target audience. Once you understand who they are, you can understand their mindset.Make both you and your work sound appealing…Readers want to be part of the experience, to feel they know you as a human being.” You can build rapport by giving readers a glimpse of your writing life: by sharing pieces of your writing, excerpts, and quotes, deleted scenes, personal updates. Everything you write can become part of your platform.

Keep it focused: “Brand and platform should enhance your career, supplement and support it, not detract from it.” If you take advantage of the technology that’s out there, you can find efficient, productive ways to reach people while still giving yourself plenty of time to write.

Bravo, Hillary, write on!

Notes by Carl Selinger

Platform – how do you stand out?
• Speaking, media, website, podcast, Twitter
• Website options: Blogger; wordpress.com; Tumblr – all free, if set up as blog: increases SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
• Mailing list – mailchimp
IFTTT.com “If this then that”
Buffer.com
• Wattpad – put up stuff you write, popular with young people
• Fiver – hire people to do stuff

Branding: how do you distinguish yourself,
• your author personality –it’s YOU, be your “best self”
• appeal to your ideal reader – it might be like yourself in terms of interests, age, etc. Or it might be different.

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