Developing Your Fiction Platform

The Last Will of Moira LeahyWelcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Therese Walsh’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. I first met Therese in Christina Katz‘s first ever #platformchat on Twitter. Since then, I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and learning from her and her Writer Unboxed site. Here’s a bit about Therese Walsh. (Stay tuned in this post if ya wanna win this book!)

About Therese Walsh
Therese WalshTherese Walsh’s debut novel was recently released by Random House (Shaye Areheart imprint). The Last Will of Moira Leahy is about a woman who lost her identical twin about a decade ago, but reconnects with her former life after purchasing an artifact from her past. Through interwoven narratives, we see Maeve Leahy as she was and what led to the tragedy with her sister, Moira. We travel with her in the present day as she unravels the truth about the artifact–who’s following her and leaving her notes — as layers of her past are peeled away and the course of her future is forever altered. Therese is also the co-founder of one of the Writer’s Digest best sites for writers, Writer Unboxed. You can learn more about her and her novel at her website: ThereseWalsh.com.

Developing Your Fiction Platform by Therese Walsh
In today’s world, platform is an important consideration for a debut novelist. Our technology-centered world is a noisy one, with so many things to do, to hear, to see, to read. What will set us apart? How will we gain notice? We’d all like to believe that our work will be enough to garner its due attention and propel us into a contract and then onto the NYT’s bestseller list. And it happens. To some. The rest of us have to work at it.
So how does a fiction writer go about developing a platform, anyway? Is it even possible? Yes, it is, and in several ways. Platform can be built broadly, as in the more widely you’re known, the greater the number of people you can potentially reach. It can be built specifically, through efforts you might make to tap into your core audience. And it can be strengthened subtly — almost unconsciously — as how you present yourself online says something about you and, through you, your writings.
Becoming Widely Known
This, from a recent Washington Post article:

(Many authors) “are actually selling their book long before they sell the book,” says Richard Pine, a literary agent for three decades and co-founder of InkWell Management. These people, he says, are establishing who they are and what they have to say and are building an audience years before they actually have a book on the shelves.

Kathleen Bolton and I started Writer Unboxed — a blog meant to empower other writers with craft posts and through interviews — in January of 2006, which marks the beginning of our online-platform effort. We became better known individually as the blog became more successful, and as we reached out to other writers, and as they mentioned us on their own sites, and as others linked to us, and so on.
You don’t have to use a blog, or rely on one exclusively, to get your name out there. Other avenues to a potential readership involve social networking efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and the like. The bottom line is that you should do something — and ideally you should do many somethings — to get your name out there. The more avenues you have to becoming known, the better for you in the long haul.
Finding Your People
Though becoming known on a large scale is important to your platform, it’s also a little like taking an ad out on PerezHilton.com: Yes, you’re reaching many, but only a fraction will care enough about what you have to offer to click through and buy your book. Honing in on the people who very likely will care becomes important.
Case in point: The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a book about twins — the story of one woman’s recovery following the loss of her twin, but also the story of this woman and her sister when they were young girls, and how they grew and changed and became separate. I knew that I needed to put forth an effort to become known by the twin community in particular, so I reached out. I sent galleys. I sent emails. I connected with people on Twitter. I waited to see if these people would choose to support my work. Luckily for me, most of them did.
I made a great ally in Shelby at Double Up Books, a bookstore dedicated to all-things twin. Shelby is not only carrying Last Will in her store, she truly believes in it and even tweets about it on occasion. I’ve gladly added her store to the buying options available on my website, and I buzz her as often as I can too. (Buy from Shelby!)
Presenting the Right Face: Yours
What kind of face do you present to the world, and does that face correspond with what you write? One of the best examples I’ve seen of matching a public face with published work is via thriller novelist JA Konrath. JA’s novels (e.g. Cherry Bomb) have been called “brisk and breezy” and laden with “offbeat humor.” JA’s personality is clear when you read his blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing — which, by the way, is packed with helpful information. His Facebook posts and tweets are also frequently hilarious. Brisk, breezy, offbeat humor – that’s JA, all right. He is the perfect poster child for his work.
Through online conversations at Writer Unboxed and elsewhere, I hope you’ve sensed my passion for empowering others. You’ve seen my posts on unboxed writing and the importance of polishing your prose. You know I love words and the occasional punny joke. You know I’m detail oriented and that I love a strong visual image. What you know about me sets up an expectation as to what you might find in Last Will — and, though I’m admittedly biased, I’d like to think it won’t disappoint you.
What are you doing to develop your fiction platform?
Write on, all!
Win: To win a copy of the book, please leave a comment at least 50 words long that answers the above question. Or you can write about twins, triplets, multiples. You don’t have to be a multiple. Maybe you had a good friend who was a twin. Or share how you feel about Kate Plus 8. You have until 11:59pm on November 18, 2009 to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic Random.org has the honor of picking the winner.

11 thoughts on “Developing Your Fiction Platform”

  1. OK, I’m pretty busy writing fiction to think about building a platform(I know, bad move)but I am building a group of Twitter followers. Does that count?
    As for Jon and Kate…who are these people that they would expose their children to constant watching by the world. What made them think this would be a good idea? And why we’re at it-who are we to watch their lives? They wouldn’t be selling their children’s childhoods to the highest bidder if there wasn’t a market for the show. So I suppose the public can’t tsk-tsk at the parents until they stop watching the show.

    Reply
  2. Another way to develop a platform – especially for certain genres, is to write short stories and get them published in good publications. I’m working on that one.
    I’m also active on Twitter, following many publishing industry folks and retweeting useful information to my wonderful followers, who are mostly writers. Of course, it’s not all work-related – I also tweet about my dogs and life in general.
    I have two blogs, which I’m afraid are far too rarely updated — though I do have my Twitter feed on The Word in Writing, the blog I’ve linked to here. My other blog, Points on Style, is devoted to the many elements of writing style – grammar, punctuation, and personal writing style.
    I figure the best way to be noticed by anyone is to help them in some way.

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  3. I looooove twitter! I’ve made so many friends and networked with lots of Authors, editors, and avid readers. I have a blog where I post excerpts of my novels, and other writing related stuff, but I don’t keep up on it.
    My friends on the Stephen King Message Board (Love the trivia game!)are keeping up with my progress in my writing career and are very supportive.
    I don’t know how much notice I’ve garnered so far, but all I have learned and the wonderful authors and books I’ve been introduced to make my online travails well worth it!

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  4. I am not a twin, at least not in the sense that I shared my mother’s womb with another sibling. But I am a twin in a strangely, synchronistic way or by a coincidental occurrence of an event that took place 48 years ago.
    My sister was born on a cold March day. I was born two years later, on the same March day. Whether it was cold or not, I have no idea. I do know that I was my older sister’s unwelcome birthday gift. The “other” fish that invaded her pond and ruined her party. A gift that she viewed no differently than underwear sent by a practical relative.
    I am a twin, temporarily lost and then regained.
    And always in synch with my sister.

    Reply
  5. Meryl,
    Yay! This is perfect. A month or so ago I made the conscious decision to move away from being “Tumblemoose” to being George Angus. I changed the look, tag line and focus of my blog, I changed my Twitter username and I now leave George Angus as my name when I comment on blogs.
    This brought a few gasps and some concern from folks regarding losing my branding. I knew it would hurt a bit and that I would lose some things with the branding but the whole idea is to build my author platform – an audience, if you will – before any book of mine hits the bookshelves.
    Therese has articulated the exact reasons for making this move.
    George
    .-= George Angus’s blog …Flash – Questions and Answers =-.

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  6. Jodi, looks like Jon and Kate and their brood are no longer interesting.
    BJ, love your short stories suggestion. Brilliant.
    Annarkie, me love Twitter too!
    Laurel, that’s a fascinating story. Definitely one that would make a great written story in some form.
    George, I love the name tumblemoose and it’s memorable. But I can see what you’re doing and why. Makes good sense.

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  7. I am active on Twitter and Facebook; I read and comment on other’s websites and blogs; I post on my blog entries that I hope will encourage and refresh my readers, thus giving them something to think about and hopefully share with others. I’ve joined several organizations that focus on journal writing, which is one of my niches (my business is JournalWriter Freelance). Plus I have other things in the works that will help toward building my platform.
    .-= Dawn Herring’s blog …A Mult-Dimensional View: Gratitude =-.

    Reply

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