Platform ~ It Isn’t a Dirty Word

Everyone hates the word platform. But stay with me here. If you’re a writer, you need one. These days, only the top 10% or less of writers have people who do all the marketing for them. Let’s face it, the rest of us have to market. And you have to have a sphere of influence to market to. So here are some things you can do. 

7 Proven Tips for Building a Platform
Before You’re Published
1. Plan to spend an hour each day on building a platform. Think of it
as

pre-published marketing. You may as well get used to it; once you do get a
contract, you’ll be spending hours marketing. That’s in addition to writing the
next book.

Editors will look for your
online presence. Besides your website or blog, you want them to find a large
Internet presence. Spend time web surfing and commenting on blogs. Each time
you leave a comment or publish a blog entry, you leave a Google stamp of your
name.
2. Find something no one else is doing. When I first started writing,
not much was online about how author’s got published. Most interviews were in
print magazines, and no one blogged about their writing journey. In 2005, Gina
Holmes, decided to chronicle her first novel journey. She soon realized for all
the work it demanded, there were three readers, and I was two of them. We
talked about it and she decided to interview some authors. Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) was born. She soon brought
me and Jessica Dotta, on board so we had fresh articles every day. The rest is
history.
3. What can you do to make yours unique? Combine interviews with a
favorite hobby, or charity. Have you wanted to fund a home for retired
cloggers? Perhaps you love Olympic curling. Find novels that have athletes in
them and interview the author. Do you raise bees? Feature a video from The
Sting. The point is to integrate your hobby, other job, and/or passion into
your blog to draw another segment of the market. You’ll have a built-in fan
base when your debut novel releases.
4. Set how often you’ll blog and keep to it. Best is every day, but if
that won’t happen go for once a week or partner with a few other writers. Find
authors in your genre and start a genre blog, like Kill Zone where some great
thriller authors blog.
Author Michelle Griep does short
blog posts Monday through Thursday. On Friday she does a vlog (video blog
post). Her blog, Writer off theLeash, is informative and her wry humor shines through.
5. If you can join with other writers, it splits the workload. We
split the work between three of us when we started Novel Journey. We posted new
interviews each day. Then, we added teaching posts by authors we had previously
interviewed but who had new novels to promote. Now, we have a regular crew of
29 and our own writing contest.
5. Follow other blogs. Another way to build your Internet presence is
commenting on blogs. Lots of them. One very clever author, Bonnie Calhoun,
realized the potential for marketing through blog tours. She amassed a large
contingency of bloggers and contacted a number of publishers, who supplied the
books for reviews posted. Most of these bloggers are writers and building
platforms for themselves.
6. Network and trade links with other writers. Join a professional
writers organization like ACFW or RWA. Offer to swap posts with other members,
do guest posts, and even ask what they’d like to see on your blog. The more
links to your blog, the higher your Google ranking.
7. Social Media. Choose two or three and be active. There are several
great sites for writers. One of my favorite social media sites is unique.
Started by Nora St. Laurent, who isn’t even a writer, it’s called The Book Club Network (TBCN). Most of the
members are book club leaders. TBCN connects them with authors. She has them
share what works and doesn’t in their book club. Besides offering a tremendous
resource for book clubs, one of these days, she’ll write a book and will
already have a platform in place.
So get creative and get busy so
when your book is completed, you’ll have your marketing platform in place. 
While a large, floppy straw hat is
her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser,
legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama
director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience
provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes
coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the
award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her
artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find
Ane on her Southern-fried Fictionwebsite, Google+,
Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The Big 3

by +AneMulligan  @AneMulligan

Voice
… Brand … Platform … Yikes!
Each
of these is something a writer must discover or develop. They have nothing to
do with the mechanics of our craft, yet everything to do with getting
published.


Platform
takes time and development. It equates to how wide your circle of influence
is—or how many books you can sell. There are tons of great articles out there
on platform, so I’ll leave it to them. I want to talk about voice and brands.

Voice
means when someone picks up a book, whose cover was torn off ages ago, and
looks at the first page can say, “Oh, this is a Gina Holmes novel.”
Why? Because of voice. The way she turns a sentence. The way she strings words
together. The sound.

When
I read Les Edgerton’s book Finding Your
Voice
, he says look to your old letters. Friends of mine told me my
Christmas letters were the only ones they read, because I waxed humorous over
all the year’s happenings. And Edgerton says that’s where you’ll find your
voice.
Sandra D. Bricker says in an interview in CFOM:
“When an editor at Summerside Press asked me to help launch their Love Finds You line by writing something
“light and funny” for them, I wondered why they thought of me. After all,
everything I’d submitted to them had been serious. It turned out that they’d
found my emails amusing and quickly spotted
what it took me a while longer to figure out: looking at the world through a
sideways, funny spin is who God created me to be.”
The same can
be said for brand. Not always, but often someone else will notice your brand
before you do. I know Brandilyn Collins’s brand wasn’t developed from her
emails, or no one would ever answer her. Yet, everyone knows what to expect in
a Brandilyn Collins book.
I wasn’t even looking for my brand, when
during an ACFW Southeast Zone loop discussion, Rose McCauley branded me from my
emails with “Southern-fried fiction.” She was right. It describes
what I write … Southern towns and Southern people with a little deep-fried humor.
When Pam Meyers was talking about brand with
me one day, I saw what she hadn’t noticed: the commonality in all her stories
is a sentimental journey. 

So, don’t try to brand yourself until you’ve
got a few completed manuscripts or even published books. Then talk to your crit
partners about their commonality.

Ane Mulligan writes
Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s a novelist, a humor columnist, and a multi-published
playwright. President of the award-winning literary
site, Novel Rocket, she resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband, their
chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, released Sept, 2014.  “With a friend like Claire, you need a
gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.” Following will be Chapel Springs
Survival
, Oct 2015,
Home to Chapel Springs, May 2016. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Become a Fiction Writer and Thank the Lord for Your Lousy Childhood

Christine
Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted
on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and
her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic.
Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no
responsibility for the sinking of that infamous ship. Stories of
Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired
her multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed
in Silk
, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and newly released Veiled
at Midnight,
published by WhiteFire Publishing. Last year Christine also had Londonderry
Dreaming
released through Pelican Book Group.
You Cannot Write Unless You’ve suffered
Lately,
there’s been a lot of talk about the insult to artists—that you cannot be an
author unless you’ve suffered. Al Kennedy wrote a savvy piece on this for the
Guardian Why I hate the myth of the
suffering artist
.
Kennedy says
that
for some, “they believe comfort and success are poison, that the Stones never did
anything good after they’d got money, Van Gogh prospered
because of mental distress, obscurity and ear mutilation, etc.” In essence, if
the artist wasn’t hurting, they couldn’t be working.
Kennedy
goes on to say, “I have been trying to write for at least
a quarter of a century, and I can say very firmly that in my experience,
suffering is largely of no (profanity
removed
) use to anyone, and definitely not a prerequisite for creation. If
an artist has managed to take something appalling and make it into art, that’s
because the artist is an artist, not because something appalling is naturally
art.”
I
couldn’t agree more, especially when we run up against writers who feel it’s
necessary to wallow in unhappiness just to produce a work of beauty.
However, as a Christian author I’d
like to go a step further. The best novels I’ve read were written by people who
suffered. Maybe not a lot of anguish and woe, maybe just a pinch of misery
while experiencing the loneliness of looking for a loving spouse. But, not that
that’s a small issue to sneeze at. As a Christian author there has to come that
balance of not sticking with the pain, but redeeming it for God’s purposes.
The
Best Paintings Have Shadows, A Foil for Sunshine. Art Needs That Delicate
Interplay Between Dark and Light
Before I started writing I used to
paint. I learned that balance of shadow and light made the difference between a
mediocre piece and a work that stole your breath.
Same with literature.
I occasionally like to read short humorous books, but after a while—if the
stakes aren’t raised, if there’s not a chance the hero or heroine will have
their hearts broken—I’m bored. Stories that keep me rapidly turning the pages
are those filled with anguish.
Reach Down Deep into Your Gut and Remember the Hurt
Granted we
don’t all need to know what it feels like to be attacked, or God-forbid—raped,
or live through a war or a kidnapping to write about such themes, but we must
tap into feelings that are similar.
I remember
the day my middle son disappeared. All the neighbors were out looking for Kyle,
people were praying. Two hours later, my six-year-old boy sallied home, smiling
to beat the band, clutching a posy of dandelions in his grubby little hand for
me. Thank God I do not know what it feels like to have my child kidnapped, but
I can tap into those feelings of the “Day of the Dandelions” as it is now known
in our family for all perpetuity.
It’s clear
that no one on this earth is exempt from suffering. It’s not exactly a
prerequisite for creativity, but suffering is a necessary ingredient for both life
and art.
But let’s not forget, light is the other essential
element. My fear for my little boy only made the sunshine of our reunion that much
brighter.
Because
What Is A Painting Without Light?
At a
writers’ conference I once heard Donald Maass talk about a writer who emailed
her agent about her latest book.
“It’s the
best thing I ever wrote,” she gushed. “It’s so honest.”
The book was
honest all right, but it was so full of angst it was a total drag to read. Why
is it we authors get trapped into thinking the darker or grittier our book the
greater the literary quality?
Unless there
is a hint of hope on each page then I’m unwilling to remain in that literary
dungeon. I want to feel emotion in each scene, but as a reader I must
experience building despair, balanced by hope, leading to a climax of joy.
Tap Into Your Lousy Childhood If You Were Lucky Enough to
Have One
Okay,
forgive my dark humor. I wouldn’t wish a lousy childhood on anyone, but dark
memories can be changed into something bright and beautiful. Mine were. It’s
called healing.
These days I
thank my heavenly Father for my lousy childhood. It wasn’t until I became a
fiction writer that I could say this. Before that I suffered the same battles
with bitterness as the next person, as the grown child of an alcoholic, and
later after relinquishing my first child to adoption. Despair is a great place
to start as a writer, but…
Unless You’ve Reached the Stage of Healing You Have Nothing
to Offer Your Readers
I promise my
readers a happy ending in all my books because I’ve seen happy endings in my
own life through my faith in Christ. 
But it was
my lousy childhood that started my writing career. Memories of my alcoholic
father inspired my multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the
British Raj. It’s only because I received healing from that emotional pain,
though, and the pain of losing my first child to adoption, that I believe I
have something to offer my readers.
Through that
delicate interplay of light and shadow, I try to offer my readers a rip-roaring
ride on a roller-coaster of emotions, the depths of raw anguish, the grittiness
of despair, the tsunamis’ of global conflict that our world inflicts upon us,
as well as what I like to call Big Love Stories when the love of God conquers
all.
My entire
series Twilight of the British Raj shows the healing of a family first tainted
by a father’s alcoholism. In book 1 Shadowed
in Silk
, my heroine Abby Fraser stands up to her abusive husband. In book 2
Captured by Moonlight my Indian
heroine Eshana stands up to her fanatical Hindu uncle who won’t allow her to
live as a Christian. And in the final book Veiled
at Midnight
my character Cam (who was a boy in book 1) and is now a man,
faces his inner demons that he has inherited his father’s addiction to alcohol.
All this set against a background of racial bias, political and religious
conflict, in an intoxicatingly exotic landscape.
Yes, there
are parts of my books that are gritty and heart-rending. But in triumph I write
not just about the struggle from alcoholism to sobriety, about surviving
through war, about standing up to bigotry, and refusing to be invisible in the
face of abandonment and abuse…
I Write in Triumph About That Tingling Feeling—When God Makes
Everything New.

Veiled at Midnight
The British empire draws to an end…but the turmoil has only just begun. 
The Partition of India has sent millions to the roads, instigated riots as uncontrolled as wildfire…and caught up in its wake Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah. 
Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since they played together at the mission as children. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he? 
For a while, Dassah believes that Cam loves her. But as the impossibility of a future with him becomes clear, what choice does she have but to run? He may hold her heart but she cannot let him break it again. 
Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, and as British forces prepare to leave India, she struggles. She finds purpose in teaching, in helping…but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

Top 10 Ways to Tick Off a Writer

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan
Writers
are strange and have lots of weird quirks and habits about writing. You should be
careful around writers. If you tick-off one, you might end up in their
book…as a dead body. So I offer the 10 top things for you to avoid:
1.
Ask her if her book is ever going to be published.
2.
Ask if she wishes she’d written the latest bestseller.
3.
Say you’re thinking of writing a book, if you had the time.
4.
Say you have a great idea for a book and you want her to help you write it.
5.
Interrupt a writer whenever you want. Getting into the zone can’t be that hard.
6.
Tell her writers are always looking for material and your life would make a
great book.
7.
Ask her to write your neighborhood’s newsletter. After all, she doesn’t have a
real job.
8.
Ask her how much money she makes.
9.
When you go to lunch, always let her pay. After all, writers make a lot of
money.
10.
Offer your thoughts on the reason she got a rejection letter or a bad review.

What
would you add to the list?
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried FictionwebsiteGoogle+FacebookGoodreadsTwitter, and Pinterest.