Walking The Runway

Mr. Pish for President

A new feature offered at Indies Unlimited is “You Asked For It.” Elina Castro asked, “What are the latest ideas/techniques in platform building?”

Our own K. S. Brooks recently discussed the importance of social media in platform building, and you can read Kat’s article here. There are, however, many additional pieces to the platform puzzle. In order for us to be on the same page I will quote from a book I really like, Get Known Before The Book Deal by Christina Katz. Just because we are part of the exciting Indie movement doesn’t mean we can’t appropriate ideas from traditionally published authors and their support team.

“The word platform simply describes all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership. Platform development is important not only for authors; it’s crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership.

Your platform communicates your expertise to others concisely, quickly, and decisively with clarity, confidence and ease. How visible are you? How much influence do you have? How many people know and trust you? If others recognize your expertise on a given topic or a specific audience or both, then that is a measure of your platform success.”

This is the most concise definition I’ve found, and whenever I wonder whether I should invest time or money in something I reread it. Platform can easily be confused with brand, but they are extremely different.

A smart way to begin building your platform is to study and emulate a veteran. I will use Kat, author K.S. Brooks, as an example. Kat has developed a solid social media presence on all the recommended sites. She is completely professional always, but this doesn’t stop her from showing, through her sense of humor, why her books would be worth buying. She has developed media contacts and a strong network that respect and acknowledge her expertise in areas involved with and separate from writing. She helps other writers, even though her day is packed with running her business. I suggest going to Kat’s author blog and reading through her posts. There are gold nuggets there.

Writing is not necessarily a business, but selling what you’ve written is. Our books are products. We can accept this as truth or use our energy to whine about it and never fix the problem. You can build a viable platform by studying what has worked for others and tweaking it to fit your particular strengths. It is hard work. Every day must be focused on your writing and in some way, shape, or form, of strengthening your platform. It can be done.

One of my writing associates here at IU wrote a piece last week that speaks directly to the question posed by Elina. You can read Carol Wyer’s post Dare to Bare All here. While I was reading it, I chuckled that Carol and I, although separated by an ocean, were on the exactly the same page. In my effort to build a solid marketing platform, I have been pushed to try things I never would have.

For example, I feel pretty confident that I have identified my reader base for the murder mystery series I am writing. This target audience likes to read about fashion, parties, art, fine food and wine, a little sex and a not too grisly murder. Because I am active in sports, yoga, and some neighborhood clubs, I have been invited to participate in local events where these women congregate. Recently, I was lucky to be asked to model in a fashion show and to have a vendor table to display my books. The event coordinators sent e-mails advertising this event to over two thousand people, and the event sold out. I couldn’t have asked for a better promotional opportunity.

Me with hair stylist Tava.

Was I nervous as I walked the runway? Not really. The audience was full of friends and potential customers. Many of the women have already read the book, and came up to speak with me before and after the fashion show. This is what I have to do to reach the niche that will read what I write. I had a blast, sold some books, and networked with several local luxury business owners. This event allowed me to expand my base. I am very grateful for the support I received from the event promoters.

There is one area of social media not covered in Kat’s post that is gaining loyal followers. Pinterest is fast becoming a social media site that savvy businesses use as much as the recreational pinners. My next post will cover how I am using Pinterest to build my social media network. In the meantime, I will give you a little homework. Set yourself up on Pinterest – here’s a quick tutorial for you – and find me. If you follow my pinning activity you will have an idea how I am building my boards, and what the general mechanics are. Think about what boards would represent you to your potential readers. In my next post I will explain why I give a little time to Pinterest each day, and what it can do for you. Remember, life can be full of style. Don’t forget to take a little stroll down the runway.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

11 thoughts on “Walking The Runway”

  1. Thanks for the info! I’m looking forward to the pinterest tutorial, since I keep hearing people talk about it. Off to set up my account in preparation…

    1. Hi Krista,
      I love Pinterest! I have connected with some interesting artists, designers, and just really nice people. I would check out the tutorial Laurie did for the basic mechanics. Create a writer/book board, and maybe a kitty one. Animals are very popular!

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      Pinterest is another way to get the word out. If used properly, it shows what is different, unique, and cool about you! A few minutes spent each day is well worth the time. I follow some creative and posh pinners! 🙂

  2. I’ve never even looked at Pinterest, I just see a lot of FB notifications that my FB friends have posted stuff on there. Given how many people I know are on there, I should take that as an indicator of its popularity and quit being too lazy to check it out.

    1. Hi Brian,
      I am seeing more and more men on the site. It’s not laziness on your part. I think we get blitzed with so many apps, links, and discussion groups that we have to sift through all this to see what has long term potential. I believe Pinterest is one of these things. I hope to see you there, soon!
      Thanks for your comments.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      Building a platform is different for everyone. Watching the misuse of social media sites, the barrage of “buy my book” messages, made me look at other ways to reach my target audience. Walking that runway pushed me out of my comfort zone, and at the same time highlighted me to potential readers as a fun, involved lady who loves fashion.
      Before the show the models all joked that we were being scouted. I was one of the younger women, two were in their mid-seventies. The audience was very supportive. It was a great experience and taught me a lot about what I can accomplish when I push those doubts out of my mind.
      You can do that, too!!! 🙂

  3. Lois, thank you for all the kind words! I wish I had your talent and zest for the Pinterest thing. I have a habit of setting something up and forgetting about it, which is awful. Kudos to you!

  4. Great post, Lois, I really have to pay much more attention to all my social media support. I do try but there just seems to be so much to organise and think about and (to this old head) so complicated: each with its own set of guidelines and rules. And then I feel guilty about my time away from actually writing.

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