The past few months, this one idea has been transforming my business as if by magic. Best business advice? Love the work, love every word you write, love every client (yes, even that client), love every task and challenge and success and setback. Love every invoice, and every payment. Love every time sheet, every tax form, every proposal, every call. And if you can’t find it in your soul to do that, get out of the way and make room for someone who can.
“Platform, in a nutshell, is your ability to sell books based on your visibility to the intended readership. If you’re a total unknown, then you may be turned down for lack of a platform to support your book’s publication,” writes Jane Friedman in her (indispensable and outstanding) blog at JaneFriedman.com.
As self-publishing becomes more and more viable, authors learn early on that a good author platform is key to finding that elusive book deal. And the advice we get to build it ranges all over the map. Jane offers some great advice on how to balance “the numbers game” with a realistic approach to platform building. She also cautions against three things that will undermine your efforts…but are often touted as being important:
- Focusing on superficial indicators like number of likes and size of list.
- Too much focus on social media growth, at the expense of creating work people want.
- Rushing the timeline.
“The good news is that authors can build a platform by engaging in activities that are most enjoyable to them—because if they’re not enjoyable, you won’t continue doing them for the time required to see any kind of pay off,” she advises.
“If you build platform only as a means to an end, it generally fails, and that’s why I tend to get cynical when authors try to do it only in service of securing a book deal. It doesn’t reflect an understanding of the much bigger picture: the tremendous value of being visible to your audience.”
The post is well worth a read if you are looking to build your own platform.
This post by Paula Munier in Jane Friedman’s blog gives some great advice for writers on how to move your reader into the story.
She likens it to using a remote car starter and heated seats before you begin a journey on a cold winter day:
“Every reader starts a story cold, and you want to warm the reader up to your story as quickly as possible,” writes Paula Munier in Jane Friedman’s blog. “You want the reader to slip into a warm seat in a hot story with a blazing beginning and take off for parts known only to you, the writer.”
According to Munier, there are three literary devices that will help you achieve this:
- Start with a scene that introduces your story idea. (Think “Jaws” and how that opening set the story for the book without a scrap of dialogue.)
- Start with the scene that foreshadows the story idea. (Munier gives the example of Sleeping Beauty and the fairy’s curse.)
- Start with the scene that sets up the story idea with action. (Princess Leia hiding the plans for the Death Star in R2-D2 is a classic example.
My favorite piece of advice in this post is “Turn to page 50.” Munier believes that most beginning writers take too long to warm up the story, and it doesn’t usually get going until around page 50 (or about 15,000 words). Turn to page 50, and see what your characters are doing. THIS might be the right place to start for a story that compels your readers to come along.