Some of you have been following my blog long enough to remember my first blog post, “Why Blog?” It was a time in my life when I was struggling to understand what it meant to be a fiction writer. I had assumed that all I needed to do was sit down and write, but I was wrong.
A lot of time has passed since then, and I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve finished the first draft of my novel Saving the Land, and I’m working on revisions. Soon, it will be ready to show to agents and publishers. In my ignorance I thought that was all I needed to do, but again I was wrong.
Let me explain how the publishing world works. If an author wants to pursue a traditional publishing path, they must have a literary agent. Most publishers will not accept submissions from an author because they depend on agents to weed out the stories not yet ready for publication.
If I want to follow that traditional publishing path, I will need to find a literary agent willing to represent me. That sounds simple doesn’t it, but it’s not. There are many more authors seeking representation than agents. So, it’s a competition, and we authors are working hard to make ourselves more attractive to the agents we query.
To complicate things even more, not just any agent will do. As authors, we must not only find an agent who has achieved good results for their other clients, but also one who will represent a story written in our genre. Saving the Land could be classified as either Contemporary Fantasy or a Cozy Paranormal Mystery. So, I can only query agents willing to accept stories in those genres.
It would be nice if the only requirements for attracting an agent were writing an enjoyable story and an efficient query letter. But unfortunately, there’s more. One of the first things an agent does when considering an author for representation is to check out their writer’s platform.
What is a “writer’s platform”? A writer’s platform allows that writer to connect with and hopefully grow their pool of readers—people who may be interested in buying their books. In today’s world, authors build much of that connection through social media: a website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…
The thought of having to establish a writer’s platform filled me with fear. It had taken me months to work up the courage to start this blog, but an effective writer’s platform would require even more from me. I would not only have to open myself up to others—I would have to actively seek them out, too.
I asked myself, “Is it worth it?” “Is being a fiction writer worth putting myself out there for the world to see and potentially criticize?”
I love writing fiction. I love it more than anything I’ve ever tried to do before, and I’ve tried a lot of things. I’m not positive that I could stop even if I wanted to. Sure, I could write my stories and not publish, but sharing my stories with others is fun. So, my answer must be, “Yes, it is worth it.”
Once I made that decision, I started researching. I wanted to answer two questions: “What makes an effective writer’s platform?” “What do I need to do to create one?”
I read books, followed experts via their blogs, watched webinars, but all I got was conflicting viewpoints. Finally, I joined Dan Blank’s Mastermind group. It is a three-month-long online session composed of ten writers, supporting each other as we worked to achieve our goals. Dan Blank, an expert in helping writers and artists create their platforms, guided us and helped us along the way.
I had a blog, but I doubted agents would consider that an adequate writer’s platform. So, my goal for the mastermind was to understand what a writer’s platform entailed and what I needed to do to create one. I have accomplished that goal and much more.
Dan helped me to not only understand who my audience is but also to clarify what is important to me as a person and as an author. Having that clarity has eliminated many of my fears and helped me move forward in understanding and creating my platform.
I now have accounts in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To my utter surprise, I enjoy the Instagram account the most, and I am rapidly acquiring followers. I haven’t mastered using these accounts effectively yet, but I’m learning.
I’m also working on changing my blog to an author’s website. The picture above is my new logo. It will appear at the top of every website page. Shortly before you receive this blog post, my new website will go live. I hope you will check it out and let me know what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see more of in the future. Your input will help me make my author’s platform better, because we are a team.
That is one of the main lessons I’ve learned about writing fiction. The author and the reader are a team. Yes, I write the story, but you will interpret it, and it is your interpretation that creates the magic.
So, help me create my writer’s platform. Work your magic. Link with me via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Wander through my website and let me know what you think of it. I treasure your opinions, but more than that, I cherish the fact that you are willing to help me along this rocky road as I work to become a published author.
Let’s get to know one another better. Connect with me:
Dan Blank’s Website: www.wegrowmedia.com
Be the Gateway by Dan Blank