From Rusty Writer to Published Author: Importance of The Platform

Posted: October 14, 2011 in Friday Guest

Rebecca Emin explains platform building and how to use it to the best advantage. 

In mid-2009, when I decided to see if I could convert my fascination with writing from a hobby into something a bit more serious, I had the grand plan: I would write a book, a huge publisher would publish it, and overnight I would become the next Enid Blyton. Simple.

It didn’t take me long to discover this is rarely the case.

It was my husband who introduced me to Twitter. By the time I signed up, he was already bored with it, so I wasn’t really sure what to do on there until the day I typed “author” into the search box and realised that Twitter is home to thousands, if not millions of writers. I started following a few writers, and clicking on their links to useful websites. It seemed that everywhere I went, I would see mention of a ‘platform’ and wonder what such a thing was and how to go about getting one.

It wasn’t until someone said to me, “You should write a blog,” and I thought to myself, “A what?” and then investigated, that I realised you could create a whole brand of your own via a few free internet sites. When I set my blog up, I had very few ideas about what to write. But I started writing as I thought, talking about what I was doing, and as time went on, I realised people were following my blog.  I then heard (via Twitter, of course) about #fridayflash. Up until this point I thought a very short story was something you wrote for fun, but no-one would ever want to read it. Imagine my delight when I discovered you could write such a story on your blog, post a link to it on a site, and people would actually visit, read and comment on it.

#fridayflash was a turning point for me. Discovering flash fiction not only had a name, but was enjoyed by so many people was a revelation. Members of the #fridayflash community visit each other’s blogs as much as they can, often offering constructive criticism which I found really helpful. I also discovered I loved reading flash fiction as much as writing it, and could learn a lot from visiting other blogs too.

As time has gone on, the number of people I interact with has grown at a rate which I still find hard to believe. This is particularly true on Twitter, where I now have over 2500 followers. I can’t claim to understand it as I have always considered myself a bit ordinary, so it’s giving my confidence the most amazing boost to think people actually want to read what I write, even when it’s only a in the form of a tweet.

Through Twitter, Facebook and blogging I have made some wonderful contacts, some now close friends of mine. I have been told via these sites about calls for submissions that have resulted in me having short stories published. It was a Twitter friend who told me she loved a short story of mine and suggested I put it on the Authortrek website. It was because of this story that my publisher Grimoire Books got in contact to say they would be interested in taking a look at the manuscript for my first novel if I was interested.

23 January 2012 is the official publication date for my debut novel New Beginnings. I am going to celebrate by having a web splash and launching two writing competitions, one on each of my blogs. 

By this date, I will have had stories published in seven paperback anthologies, as well as many more being published via the Ether app, and a few in The Pages and other online magazines. I have no doubt whatsoever that without Twitter, Facebook and my blog, none of these things would have happened by now.  I am still working hard at building my platform further. It takes continuous time and effort but it is so, so worth it.

My top tips for building a platform:

  • Take a look at all the social media sites and see which suit you. You don’t need to be on all of them, but you do need to use those you chose properly for effective platform building.
  • Get to know other people and read what others have to say. Social networking works best when you interact with people.
  • Do not spend all of your time trying to sell your own products. This is the easiest way to lose followers.
  • If you have a blog, use your stats to discover which of your posts are the most popular. This is helpful for future planning.
  • Be yourself.

***

 My blog about Writing for Children and Teens 

My Goodreads Page

 

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Comments
  1. Rebecca Emin says:

    Thank you for having me here on your blog, Sue!

  2. Lacy says:

    Your posts are always so informative! Thanks for the great stuff.

  3. debutnovelist says:

    Hi Rebecca – nice succinct article that makes it all so clear. And I didn’t know of Authortrek!
    AliB

  4. I’m proud to say that I have an advanced copy of your great book, Rebecca, and thanks for your top tips on platform building. The only point that I would add to that is, “Ration your time in this world or you’ll run out of hours in the real one!” or is it just me? 😉

  5. Joanna says:

    Thanks for all the tips, Rebecca. #Fridayflash is completely new to me, but have just strated to get into flash fiction so need to pursue this, I think.

    • Rebecca Emin says:

      Joanna, thanks for reading and commenting. I would totally recommend #fridayflash to anyone just starting to write flash fiction, the people who take part are very friendly and welcoming. Please do join us!

  6. So interesting, Rebecca. You have come such a long way – definitely no rust on your pen, sistah! Congratulations on the publication of your book and all your successes. May many, many more come your way.

  7. Nice article, Rebecca. It is always interesting to hear how authors find their various pathways to success. Too bad that first plan didn’t work out, but if it had, we may never have met. Much success to you on your debut novel.
    ~jon

  8. Congratulations on your success, Rebecca! You are an inspiration to the rest of us. I love your down-to-earth style and practical suggestions. I hope your book is more successful than you ever dreamed. Thanks for the tip about Authortrek. I’m just starting to explore the world of short story writing myself.

  9. Christy Farmer says:

    Congratulations Rebecca on your success! You’re doing a great job!

  10. I know I’m missing out by not being on Twitter. There are millions of writers, I’m sure!

    Good guest post about platform. Thanks!

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