Establishing a Platform

Several sources have given the same word of advice to new writers, build a platform.  That means get your name out there, establish your presence among the masses, and continue to build fans.  The advice goes on to suggest that new writers need to start building a platform immediately, even before you start writing a novel (if novel writing is your goal… which it is).

Publishers look at the marketability of you and your writing, but they also look at how much of an effort you put into marketing yourself.  Publishers don’t want to do all the leg work or work with a writer that isn’t a team player.  This means publishers are going to likely choose a mediocre manuscript from a writer with an excellent ability to promote his work over a guy that submits a brilliant manuscript that is completely unknown and unwilling to sell himself.

Boy, if that’s the case then I have a long way to go before a publisher even glances at any of my work.  So how do I even start to establish my platform as a writer?  Here are the suggested ways:

1.  Online Social Networking

Set up a blog that’s updated daily.  Include useful information as well as updates on any progress on literary works.  Contests and give-a-ways were suggested in many of the sources I researched (we’ll see what I can come up with, guys).  Twitter and other forms communication are encouraged to get word out to as many people as possible.

2.  Become a known writer

Wait, isn’t that what I’m trying to accomplish?  Well, publishers will want to know about the work you have done prior to submitting your novel manuscript.  Writing for a periodical, newspaper, or local publication around town can help establish your credibility as a writer and put some cash in your pocket.  There are more markets out there for a writer than you might realize.  Every word that you see printed anywhere was likely paid work.  Literary periodicals that publish short stories, like Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction pay between 7 and 9 cents a word for stories up to 7,500 words (about 25 pages).  So a 7,000 word story could, if published, net between $490 and $630.  However, while browsing through the latest issue of each magazine at my local Barnes and Noble I noticed a lot of the published stories were written by authors that had already been recognized for winning several awards.  So before I can expect to get short stories published there’s another way to both become known and make money…

3.  Enter writing contests

There are many writing contests looking for all types of literary work, from novels to poems.  For reading fees ranging from $5 to $35, you can have a shot at winning between $1,000 to $5,000 (depending on the type of contest, it could be more).  I’m going to narrow my search down to fictional short stories.  I’ll check around and see which ones I can enter soon and post my findings tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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