Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rita Explains...Understanding Your Platform

"Writing platform" seems to be what everyone is talking about these days – it’s the new buzz phrase in the writing and publishing world. All writers must have a platform.  Hmmm — I guess that is a specific direction and/or set of values—before they begin to even write. So what exactly is a writing platform? How can it help you?
     Author Sage Cohen, author of
The Productive Writer, defines platform as "the turf you claim and name as your area of expertise in your writing life, and it's everything you do to make that expertise visible. Just as a thesis is the foundation of a term paper around which its argument is built, a platform is an organizing principle around which a writer's many expressions of work revolve. A platform says to both the writer and the world, 'I am an expert in [fill in the blank with your specialty]!'" Yours should be a topic or craft or theme or audience that has energy and curiosity for you: one that you know about and want to invest a whole lot more time knowing a whole lot more about.
    With such clarity of purpose, over time you will likely publish, teach, lead, and share wisdom in ways that express, explore, and give shape to your expertise. And as this happens, you will start to become recognized as an authority in your chosen realm.
     It’s essential these days for authors to have a clear understanding of writing platforms. Learn what an author’s platform is and ways to build a writing platform from the book The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen.
     Put another way, platform is both the destination and the path. It’s effective because you build it as you go. It keeps you moving forward, tells you where forward is, and is the measure against which you decide if you’re getting there.
     Using a Writing Platform & Publishing Your Work ~ Platform is the leverage to pitch, sell, and write the book. But there are many stages of publishing (articles, essays, poems, stories) along the way that precede becoming an author and contribute to growing a platform.
     There are many ways to develop your platform, including:
·         Teach what you know.
·         Self-publish
·         Offer tips via a blog, Twitter or Facebook
·         Read your work publicly as much as possible.
·         Start your own online community
·         Offer editing or support in your field.
·         Create an e-zine or newsletter.
·         Join organizations in your field
·         Publish articles
·         Offer information in your area of expertise.

     Once you know your platform, you can focus on your writing and gain momentum. A platform helps you understand your area of expertise better, directs you to your potential audiences, and improves your odds of publishing.
     Think about your values as a writer - if the word platform scares you. What do you want to accomplish from your writing? What do you want others to take away from your work? When building your own platform, you may want to consider doing the following:
  • Study those authors who you love to read.  What are they doing to create a public image?
  • Create a blog and begin publicly writing about your area of expertise.
  • Get involved in writing communities—both online and in person.  Never underestimate the power of networking for both inspiration and opportunity.
  • Utilize social media, whenever practical, in order to build networks and promote your work.
  •  Read other works within your field.  If you want to be a romance novelist, read the best-selling romance novels.  If you want to become a memoirist, stay current on trends in the world of creative nonfiction.
  • Begin to think of your writing life your real life.  You are a writer once you put your ideas into daily practice, regardless of how many publications you can claim. 

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