Well, you have your business plan typed and printed, possibly stored in a sleek binder … or stuffed in a lock box or file cabinet. So what next? Well, you have to make good on that marketing plan that you spelled out in your business plan. What? Isn’t that my agent’s and publisher’s job? The answer is no, or at least, not anymore. With the advent of social media, the internet and a variety of other factors, writers are having to step up even more to market and sell their work.
The one thing I have discovered as I query agents with my novel is they want to see my Web presence. From blogs to websites, some agents want to see them included in your query letter to see how marketable you are and what your reach is. I recall one agent stating on their website that if they google a writer, they want the writer to appear on page one of the search. For some of us unfortunate souls, this is impossible. Just try googling Sarah Wright, all you will get is a supermodel — I can’t beat that. Despite that, create a presence even if you can’t get on page one: Just having a presence is better than not having one at all.
While it might seem like putting the cart before the horse, your marketing and platform building should occur prior to peddling your wares/writings because platforms can take time to build. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t land a large platform/following overnight since not everyone will meet instant success. Whatever you do, don’t covet the success of others; instead, focus on your own projects and carry on: Platform building is not a race.
There are several avenues to choose from in regards to building your platform: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Each site has its own pros and cons, so it is really a matter of which ones you find easiest to use or better suit your approach. Also consider using a combination of these sites, which only serves to increase your reach and platform. Try to keep your posts on these sites regular and relateable; it also doesn’t hurt to stick with a theme. And while you are on these sites, be sure to network. Follow people, be active on their blogs or accounts; after all, it will only increase your visibility while also building connections and potentially increasing your own knowledge base.
To help yourself along, take your calendar and mark the days you intend to post on it. Plan out your posts or articles in advance. You can write out a bunch of articles/posts then post them at your leisure. Strategies like these will only help you as you work on building your platform. Also don’t rule out the possibility of doing guest blogs or joining a network of blogs.
And perhaps one of the most important things is a website. Every writer should have a website: But remember quality is key! I cannot stress that enough because nothing can repel eyes like a poorly put-together website, particularly one that uses just html coding or worse… a html table. If you can’t put together your own professional crafted website, it is more than worth it to hire someone to prepare one for you. Similarly, have a professional email account, which mean no firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with most businesses, there will be trial and error. What works for your writing buddies might not work for you just like that plan you have so meticulously put together is failing to meet your expectations. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Dust yourself off and try an alternative approach or soldier up on your current approach. Also browse around, see what your fellow bloggers and writers are doing and take inspiration from what they are doing right.
“The business of writing” will be a three-part series. The final part will be about building your portfolio and resume as a writer. Visit Part I here.