Are you out there? I don’t mean aliens or insanity!


I said I’d blog about platforms so here we are. Welcome! Thank you all for the great response to the earlier post about Social Media. I hope you get something from this post, as well.

What is an author platform and do I need one?

I hadn’t even heard of this terminology until last year. What is an author platform? It’s basically who you are as a writer and how you plan to put yourself out there for sale.

So let’s break it down. I’ve called on some experts for this.

Jane Friedman, the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review says what a platform IS:

  • Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
  • Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
  • Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
  • Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodontist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?).

and what platform is NOT:

  • It is not about self-promotion.
  • It is not about hard selling.
  • It is not about annoying people.
  • It is not about being an extrovert.

(For more of this NOT list and the full article, follow the link in Jane’s name above)

Not sure yet? Already have a fail-safe platform? Is your platform current?

I discovered, like the publishing industry, your platform changes, needs to be updated as times change what we think we know.

Alan Rinzler is a consulting editor who says how to build platforms:

So whoever you are and however great you think your platform is, if it’s not new, it may be only as good as yesterday’s publishing standards. 🙂

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ll be doing a major overhaul on my blog and website. This is why. I don’t write erotic or m/m so why do I showcase those wonderful writers who do? Why do I host books on subject matter I don’t write about? Well, my reason is easy. Friendship. I want to support and help my friends promote their talent. But does helping those authors of genres/topics I don’t write help me? Or could it be hurting my own platform? Am I doing more damage than good by putting content on my blog that I don’t write, no matter how much I enjoy it?

Let’s face it– I’m only here because I’m a writer trying to sell my own wares. So are you. Right? Writing, publishing, is business and I’m a business woman. I mean, stores don’t post competitors sales just because they like them or want to see them succeed. By the same token one publisher won’t publicize another. It would put that store/publisher out of business after a while of sending all their customers across the street where prices are better. No, instead, they use those competitors prices to showcase their own better bargains!

So…how can we, as authors and business people, use that platform to help ourselves and each other? Because we all know authors are the greatest supporters of our own competitors IN THE WORLD!!!!! 😀 Can I get an AMEN?

I think we writers can better strengthen our own platforms by showcasing others’ books in the same genre and subgenre, and even content matter (to some extent), and publishing houses by hosting those talented people in our cyber homes. I also think we can do ourselves justice by sharing genres we don’t write, and by publishers we don’t write for. So what to do?

Well, the same store who uses prices to beat out the competition? He advertises clearly what he sells, but his employees (this would be authors) allow the competitor’s customers to post sale items for sale in the windows.  No, that store doesn’t sell puppies, tractors, or horses, but their act of goodwill helps the community who does– and brings in more customers for their wares at the same time– with the secure knowledge those flyers will come down after a short time (usually).  As a writer that’s what I’m doing, allowing others to post their flyers (books) in my window (blog) for a short time, regardless of what my store (website) boasts I sell (write).

But, there is a reason my readers/followers are on my blog (I’m not talking about supportive friends of any and all genres here, because I know without a doubt why those lovelies are here). So, if I’m not giving my readers what they expect from my platform, can I expect them to come back? A better question might be, are “my” followers really mine? If not, then who am I really helping, and again, is that answer good or bad for my own author platform?

Or am I really fooling myself, and therefore, losing my own “target audience” who doesn’t read those other genres? Should I just put an age appropriate warning on my website to suit everyone? I don’t think that’s the answer. But I love helping friends promote their historical books, their ‘sexy’ books, and I don’t want to stop that support. So what will I do?

I’ll keep doing what I love to do…just in a different way.

I want to leave you with this article (note especially the part I underlined in the last line) by Strategic Marketer, Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire), and encourage you to read the full article if you are still unsure whether you do or don’t need a platform:

“Be the master of your own world and embrace your author platform like you would your story. Everything you create and do is part of it, and if you don’t like something, you have the power to change, or as I like to see it, evolve yourself.

You make the rules and should be damn proud of the ones you create.

So today’s burning question to share in comments is:

Do you have an author platform and is it current? If you don’t, why not? If you do, how does it help you as a writer?


About Calisa Rhose

I'm a mother of three daughters and wife to a wonderful man of 35+ years. I'm also an avid seamstress, polymer clay artisan and die-hard crafter, always coming up with things to make with, and for, my six granddaughters and two grandsons. Check out my craft site when you have a moment. I'm also a small online business owner of Okie fLips on Etsy and Poshmark (eBay/Merkari coming soon), and I'm a published author of sensual romance. I write about stubborn men and women who don't take no for an answer, and there's always that golden HEA. Cowboys and first responders are my favorite contemporary heroes to write about. My light paranormal heroes are strong men ready to protect their women--not that they need protecting, since they are capable of caring for themselves.

Posted on 09/07/2012, in AHA moments, Blogs, Branding, Goals, guest blogging, my writing, Pen of the Dreamer, Promotion, Publishers, Welcome and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Excellent post and very timely for me as I gear up to start building my own platform! I’ll definitely heed the advice and dig deeper into the links. Thanks for the information, and thanks for volunteering to do The Next Big Think Blog Hop. I look forward to learning more about you and your work.


  2. Very interesting post Calisa – and you’re asking the same questions I often ask myself. I have a website, Facebook page and Twitter account and numerous other ‘social network sites’ although the ones I use the most are Facebook and Blogger. Like you, I love to have other authors ‘guest’ on my site, and while I mainly keep it to a ‘G’ rated level, and authors who write fantasy or Science Fiction romance, I also have authors of other generes which are not related, but which I think readers will enjoy. Whether they stop to check my books out as well I’m not sure and can only hope. I usually spend time setting out posts to make them look as attractive as possible, and search for pictures or grahics to set them off whenever possible. This all takes time, and although I tell myself that as well as helping other authors, it’s giving me ‘content’ which otherwise I’d have to write myself, I do think sometimes I’m spending valuable time which could better be spent actually writing my next novel!

    It’s a difficult one, isn’t it!


    • And that’s the thing, isn’t it, Lyn? To present an attractive, yet interesting, post time after time and still do yourself some good while helping others. Thanks for stopping in! 🙂


  3. Barbara Edwards Author

    I have one- I think- but I have forgotten my aim is to keep my writing forefront by blogging about personal happenings . thanks for a great reminder.


  4. Very good post. Yes, I have a “platform” but not sure who sees it! I try to keep my blog, website, e-mails current, but can only do so much. Guess i need to rethink my strategy! Thanks.


  5. Great post Calisa!

    I love helping my fellow author friends as well.

    And I do like to have a variety of authors who write in different genres on my blog. I like to be introduced to different genres and I believe others do as well. They might not have read a paranormal book, but maybe an author on my blog showcased a book that really caught their attention in that genre.

    After all, Variety is the Spice of life!!!


  6. Callie Hutton

    Very interesting post, Calisa. Lots of good information.


  7. Great post! You gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for including the great links as well.


  8. I loved your post! Yes, my website is current. I consider it my second home. 🙂


    • Thanks, Angeline! 😆 I’ll have to drop in and check yours out. I’m in the process of redesigning some things on mine. Glad you loved it.


  9. I guess I need to work on a platform for myself. Excellent blog!


  10. I was trying to be prim and proper on my blog, because now I am an author, and the entire point of my blog was to bring attention to my books. But I realized one day I wasn’t having any fun; it wasn’t me. I finally let the humor out, and I’m much happier. My blog is silly, but so am I – and so are my books. If my brand/platform is slightly madcap, I’m good with that. 🙂


    • I need to visit you again, Maddie. I am so with you on that though. I love my silly side, my dry humor, my Cherokee and everything that is ME. But is that enough to build a platform on? I’m still reading up on this subject as I rebuild my cyber home. Thanks for commenting.


  11. Thanks for all the great information and links. I’m taking baby steps toward a platform. It’s difficult when you have a split personality like me – writing for both children and adults with two different identities. Once I have a set publication date, I hope it’ll help me decide which direction to go.


  12. Kristina Knight

    This is such a hard thing to come to grips with, and I, for one, have no idea if I’m doing it right. I love hosting other authors on my blog, tweeting them when good reviews come in and commiserating when the not-good happens. I’m trying to do better with the social media, platform, brand thing…i do think personality is important, though, moreso than always having the perfect, quippy tweet or Facebook status – by personality i mean being genuine with support, excitement and encouragement of followers in the social spaces.


    • I agree, Kristi, and it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is right or helpful to yourself and not just others. For me it’s a constant work in progress just figuring it out.


  13. I should have a solid author platform. I’m in the throws of redo. Redo where I’m at as a writer and that includes platform. How do I want to look to the world? The answer is different than I’d thought.
    Thank you for the helpful post. The links are great.


  14. Huge thanks for the inclusion. It’s always an interesting topic for writers. To platform or not to platform…

    Great Post

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)


  15. I’ve always believed it’s not my books or stories I’m selling, it’s me. And I always chuckle when I say that because I’m not the most marketable person. I’m not the willowy, attractive, dynamic female. However, I am caring and supportive and I know how to smile. But is my goofy smile enough to sell a book? Nah…but I’m having fun at this writing thing. It’s my dream come true. And I can’t list the lovely, talented writers I’ve met along the way. If I can support them, then I’m happy. Like you, I host many genres on my blog. Writers helping writers and all that. Loved your post today. Lots of great info. And with your permission, I may recopy parts of it to put on our writers’ group blog…Lynchburg Hill City Writers. I’ll email you later about this. Great post!


    • I agree, Vonnie. But your personality does help you sell books. I do believe that. Absolutely, you can use whatever of this you want! If you want to email me I can send a word doc copy for you. Just pat my back if you use it. 😉


  16. Thought provoking post, Calisa. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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