Friday, November 18, 2011

An Unrecognized Positive of Platform Building

I have a confession to make.  I have been platform-building obsessed.  The fact that last night, when I started talking with my husband about this blog post, my four year old asked me if I had any new followers is proof of it.  Both of my children are knowledgeable about Twitter, tweets, and Tweetdeck.  They know the logos by sight.  But my need for a self-help group is not the subject of this blog post, so I'll continue one.

As a beginning writer, I put platform-building off because it seemed a silly idea.  I hadn’t had any success, none of my writing had been published anywhere, and who would I be talking to, anyway?  However, after it became clear I was hooked on writing, I decided to join in and began platform-building.  I started a personal Facebook page, and then a blog several months later.  My last holdout was Twitter, which I started in August.  Over time, and as my platform has grown, I have begun to recognize some positives to platform-building, the biggest two being support and motivation.

When I started writing, I concentrated on short stories.  I learned Heinlein’s Rules early on, and once I had a finished story that seemed to make sense, I started sending them out onto the submission trail of tears.  Having stories in submission, even if they were ultimately rejected, gave me the feeling of being a “real” writer.  I was engaged vicariously with the writing industry, and on occasion editors gave me favorable feedback, even if they ultimately rejected the story. 
Then I began writing my first novel.  I no longer submitted short stories, because I didn’t have any new ones to offer.  Without submitting, I also lost the sense of engagement with the writing industry and/or community.  That’s when my blog became important.

I moved my blog from tumblr to Blogger last November, about the same time that I started my novel.   I felt pretty sad about the whole blog thing because I had no followers, except my husband, one of my best friends from high school, and my cousin, who also writes.  I sincerely appreciated their kindness, but it did feel like pity-following.  At my cousin’s wise counsel, I soldiered on, and eventually got two non-related followers.  Then I was in business.  The knowledge that there were two people out in cyberspace who expected me to deliver my writing to them on a regular basis kept me blogging, even if it seemed useless because I didn’t even have a book to offer them.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I received a rejection from a big-name webzine.  The typical “what the heck am I doing” started running through my mind.  I thought about giving up, but the knowledge that I now had a few more than twenty followers on my blog and a little under a hundred twitter followers held me accountable to my dreams.  How could I just close up shop when all these people were watching?  I didn't want to be a quitter in front of an audience.

No, the numbers aren’t large, but they are my numbers, and quite honestly, I feel pretty convinced that the followers I do have are meaningful.  Yes, on Twitter especially, there are the people I know followed me because they want to sell me (and my friends) their book, but many of the people I have gotten to know through blogging and tweeting are people that I enjoy hearing how their lives are going.  They are people who have similar thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams.  I have found support through platform building that motivates me to continue down the writing road.

Have you recognized any positives from platform building in your life?


  1. Thanks Lara, that inspires me to keep one of my lesser-read blogs going! ;-)
    Good luck with yours. I 'got here' via Twitter :-)

  2. I'm so happy to be able to pass the support on and thanks for stopping by!

  3. I'm confused about platforms, really. I have no angle on the writing, except that I like to do it. I guess I'm platform-challenged..,

  4. From what I've read, platform-building as a term was used for non-fiction first. To me, it is making connections with other people. I don't expect to become best friends with everyone, but being friendly is certainly appreciated!

  5. I've met so many great writers and bloggers. That's my favorite part of building a platform. You need other writers to make it in this industry. We'd go crazy without each other. ;)

  6. I 1000% relate to this post from the short story submission part to everything else. The platform thing is funny---I actually had an agent contact me because of a story of mine in Monkeybicycle. Of course she said if I had a novel she'd love to see it, and of course I'm nowhere near finished with a novel. So then I was mad at myself for days and beating myself up for spending TOO much time on the blog and Twitter and not enough on the "real" work.

    Yet, I ultimately don't regret having the blog or being active on Twitter. I think a novel will take me several more years at least. Hopefully an agent will be interested at that point.

    You're going this platform thing the right way in my opinion. I'm all about what I call "authentic" followers and not just plain ol' meaningless numbers.

  7. Kelly - I totally agree that getting support from other writers it so valuable. Other writers "know" without having to explain it all!

    Thanks for following, Nina! That's exciting news about the agent, but I totally would have had the same reaction you did. On those near misses, though, I believe that if it's happened once, it will happen again, when the timing is right. My personal mantra has become "patience." I really need to read your work!

  8. Do not ever give up. You're doing the right thing. If you never promoted yourself, we'd never see you and therefore, we'd never know to promote you! :)

    Writers UNITE!!

  9. Thanks, Diane! You're one of the great reasons I'm happy to have been blogging!


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