How to Build a Platform as a Fiction Writer [Free Workbook!]

Author platforms for fiction writers short

But first, the stories worth reading this week:

How to Be More Successful with the Right Content Marketing Tools (Ben Sailer for CoSchedule): This article is especially helpful for writers who already have an author platform in the works, but they’re not quite sure how to drive traffic or followers to those outlets. And be sure to read more below about how to get clarity on who your readers are before you try to market content to them!

4 Lessons for Authors on the Current State of Book Publishing (Jane Friedman): “Industry marketing expert Peter McCarthy and Rand Fishkin both discussed how to find your readers online and reach them directly. McCarthy described it as picking up ‘the lingua franca of the customer’ with a variety of tools and techniques. He demonstrated how he rapidly tests out phrases to learn and access ‘adjacencies’—the key concepts, active people, and communities whose interests are aligned with themes, topics, or points from your work.”

How and When to Catch the Elusive Publicity Department (Lizzy Mason on Pub Crawl): Lizzy Mason is the Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, and this is a great inside look at the typical timeline in-house publicists stick to when pitching a new release. This is a must-read for any author working with a publicist, or planning on ever working with a publicist.

The Custodian of Forgotten Books (Daniel A. Gross for The New Yorker): “A little over a decade ago, a forgotten book was suddenly remembered. Its second life began when a fiction writer referenced it in a book of her own. A blogger read the new book, then tracked down a copy of the old one, and wrote about all this on his Web site. An archivist read the blog post and e-mailed it to a small publisher. By 2009, Jetta Carleton’s ‘The Moonflower Vine,’ first published in 1962, was back in print.”

Literary-Themed Goodies for Your Kitchen (Kristina Pino on BookRiot): “Rows of bookshelves in your living room and piles of novels on your bedside and coffee tables not enough to properly express your love of books? Time to move into new territory and bookify your kitchen.” WELL, OKAY.

How to Build a Platform as a Fiction Writer (with a free workbook!)

How To Find Your Readers as a Fiction Writer_Page_1

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m back this week with the workbook I promised you, which I think will be a great tool for fiction writers to gain clarity on platform-building.

As Kristen and I discussed recently, it’s not easy building a platform as a fiction writer. And it’s not easy learning how to market your novels. But it is essential, and it is incredibly rewarding when done right.

And don’t worry: No one starts out knowing how to do all this stuff. No one starts their career knowing how to tweet, how to blog, how to build a list, how to speak in front of crowds, how to pitch a magazine editor. Just like no one starts out knowing how to write a book.

We all understand that writing is a craft, and that is must be honed with time and experience. But marketing is also a craft, and it takes just as much time and experience to learn how to do it well–that is, authentically, and without sounding like a late-night infomercial.

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Do Fiction Writers Need a Platform?

do fiction writers need platforms literary agent blog

But first, the stories worth reading this week:

Hachette Again Reaches Deal with Perseus Books (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times): So, that happened. Again. What does this mean for authors working with either publisher? Nothing at all right now. It seems that PBG will continue to operate as a separate publishing division within Hachette, and as the Times points out, “Adding heft will probably help Hachette in a cutthroat media landscape where publishers are increasingly being squeezed by major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.”

Making Time for Writing? 7 Simple but Powerful Productivity Tips (Ali Luke for The Write Life): “Do you ever sit down to write for a couple of hours, only to find yourself with only a paragraph or two to show for it? It’s really easy to get distracted, especially if your work involves online research. One link leads to another and another and … oh look, a cute cat video!”

The Martian Started as a Self-Published Book (All Things Considered, NPR): “Self-published authors often dream of snagging a big contract with a major publishing house. But after Andy Weir’s self-published ‘The Martian’ online, its next stop was not print. Instead, it got picked up by a small Canadian audiobook company. Of course, it was eventually made into a movie and nominated for multiple Oscars.”

A Warning About Writing Novels That Ride the News Cycle (Todd Moss on “My first book contract was a fluke of good timing. Al-Qaeda, Muammar Gaddafi, and French Special Forces are all, in part, responsible for my writing career. But I’ve since discovered that it’s risky, and probably unwise, for a novelist to chase current events too closely.”

The Revenant Author Michael Punke Has a Day Job (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times): “In addition to being an international trade policy wonk, Mr. Punke is the author of ‘The Revenant,’ a 2002 novel about a 19th-century American fur trapper’s epic struggle for survival in the wilderness, and the inspiration for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s film. The movie is up for 12 Oscars, including best picture, and has catapulted the novel onto the best-seller lists.”

Do Fiction Writers Need a Platform?

Here it is. The long-awaited post on one of the big questions out there: do fiction writers need platforms?

It’s no secret what I think of this (ha, ha, says the girl who writes a whole nerdy blog on it), so I thought it would be much, much more interesting to hear from a fiction writer herself. Kristen is a fantasy writer and creative writing coach, and she runs the popular site She’s Novel, while also working on edits to Dreamworld and The Dark Between, her fantasy debuts.

She has such an interesting take on what it’s like to be building her platform before her first book is even out, and I think our conversation touches upon many of the concerns I most hear from writers:

  • Do I even need a platform?
  • Is it really worth my time?
  • But don’t agents and editors not care if a fiction writer has a platform?

So before we jump into the conversation with Kristen, let’s clear the air. There are so many conflicting opinions about this out there, and even industry professionals disagree with each other. But here’s what we do agree on:

You don’t need a platform to get a book deal.

You do need a platform and marketing savvy to have long-term success as an author.

Why? Well here are 4 reasons why it’s important to build a platform as a fiction writer:

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