Thursday, March 17, 2011

Conference Recap: An Effective Writer's Platform

If you're sitting on the fence about whether writing conferences are worth it, I have just two words to say: do it. Do it. (Can you reference that movie? Hint: Ben Stiller.) Even if you're not pitching, worth it. Classes great, people great, info great. You really come away smarter. So go, if you can.

One of the best classes from NCW Fort Collins was by Ebeling & Associates on Creating an Effective Platform. Some agents have trouble defining platform and what to do as a writer, but not Kristina Holmes and Michael Ebeling. They understand platform.

What I learned about Building an Effective Platform:

1. Platform is what you do to reach your audience and elevate yourself above the rest. Over 250K books are traditionally published every year. The market is saturated and your audience has a short attention span. So what are you doing to get noticed?

2. There are many ways to build your platform, focus on one or two and do it well. Typical ways to build a platform:
  • Speaking
  • Website/Blog
  • Social Media
  • Appearances in Media
  • Workshops/Seminars
To do this well, time and/or money need to be spent to make it happen.

3. Your goal should be to maximize your audience size AND your appeal. A strong platform is not just numbers but also your appeal. How is your audience receiving your content/identity? How are you communicating it? Sassy, frank, research-driven, extreme, etc. Creative humor can help. Find a way to differentiate and find a niche. What are others not doing that you can do? Where is your passion? Find it and be the researcher, then report. Become the expert. Have patience, success will come.

4. Know your audience. Who are they? What are their needs and desires? What are their dreams and struggles? What causes them pain? How can you help them? Your platform initiatives should allow your audience to speak to you and each other. Create an environment where the community can come together.

5. Find your unique hook and angle, then master your content. Be creative. Be authentic. Follow what others are doing and saying. Talk to other authors and experts. Pay attention to how you present yourself.

I had an ah-ha moment in this class when it came to audience. Right now, my platform is blogging and socializing with other writers and publishing people. While this is still important for networking and hopefully being published, it is not my audience for my stories.

My audience is: middle grade kids, their parents, and librarians.

Now I just need to understand their pain and find my niche for helping this audience. I have ideas. But for now, I need to sleep and channel the tiger blood energy Charlie Sheen has in massive supply. Plan Better.


  1. Brooke, I just found you through another website. Thanks so much for your kind review of our talk at NCWC! I think your "a ha" realization was a very important one. Knowing your audience is everything. Well, almost..... :)

    Happy writing.


  2. I think many of us who blog are in the same position. The people who read our blogs right now are writers like us and other publishing people. I don't think that will change until you have a book out, and then I'm not sure how exactly it changes. Bloggers are very supportive of each other when they have a book published, but I'm not sure how you go about connecting with the primary audience for your stories, especially the MG readers who aren't necessarily on computers as much as the YA readers.