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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