Building a Platform

The last few items in this multi-paged blog for your consideration.

by Gayle Bartos-Pool

Platform

Point #9

  1. Your Inner Ham. This one might be scary, but if you really want to cut the mustard as a writer, you have to be able to stand up in front of strangers and read your work out loud.

If you haven’t passed out from the mere thought of that, you might think, “Oh, how hard can that be?” Go ahead and try it. Have some friends watch you and honestly critique you. Try reading stories to a children’s group. If they start laughing or fall asleep, maybe you should improve your technique. If you mumble in a monotone with your head down, it’s time to take a Toastmasters course or maybe acting lessons.

Reading to an audience is more than saying the words out loud. You must be able to project to the back of the room. You should use varied tones and moods. Your face should suggest the different characters you are portraying. In other words, you should give a performance.

Sing

Not all authors are good at public readings. Many mumble. Others stumble over their own written words while maintaining a monotone throughout the entire read. That is telling the audience that there is nothing exciting happening on those pages even if the selection would have been interesting if it had been read with the proper emotion and gusto.

Many books are sold at author readings when the author makes his or her book sound like a performance. It can be done, with practice. Read your own work out loud. It will help you discover some great sections to read to an audience.

It’s actually a good strategy in writing to open your book or short story with a bang. It grabs the attention of the reader who might be a potential agent or editor. And the guy in the bookstore might buy your book if the opening grabs his attention. So when you are reading to an audience, starting at the beginning is always a plus. But even if your opening isn’t a grabber, pick an exciting part to read and keep going over it until it sounds like a stage performance.

As a bonus, while still in the editing phase of your writing, try reading your work out loud. You will detect mistakes that you had overlooked while just reading the words off the computer screen. To kill two birds with one stone: record yourself as you read. You will hear your literary errors and you can judge your own presentation.

Remember: It is a performance. Lights. Camera. Action.

 

Point #10

  1. “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” If you have anything published, even self-published, do TV interviews to get face time and experience. Local TV stations in many areas do segments on local authors. Public access stations do round-tables with authors. Call them up; tell them what you have done. Suggest doing a panel of several of your writer friends for their station. It never hurts to ask.
GenderWritingPanel
Burbank Library Panel

Point #11

  1. Don’t Drop the Ball Now. If you have gotten this far, take time to update your website, keep people informed on your Facebook page, or Twitter your latest event. Let your targeted audience (chefs, lawyers, senior citizen groups) know what you are doing. Visit all those Internet communities you have joined and let them know what you are up to. Leave a comment on a fellow writer’s blog when they have a new book out. Review somebody’s book on Amazon.com. (Wouldn’t you like somebody to do that to your book?)

 

PhotoFunia-1562086112As you learn new skills, like doing a TV interview, let people know about it on your website. Polish old skills. (You can always improve.) You should have learned a hundred great writing techniques and mistakes to avoid in that writing group you joined. (We can all learn from other’s mistakes as well as our own.)

Update your short, one-paragraph biography often, so when someone is doing publicity on you (or you are sending out your own Press Release) you have the latest news on yourself at hand. Something you did in college probably won’t interest anybody ten or fifteen years later, but guest blogging on someone else’s blog is Big News. The fact you wrote poems in high school isn’t very news worthy. The fact you interviewed a fellow writer on your blog is exciting. Read other people’s biographies on their websites. You’ll spot the pro from the novice by what the pro leaves out.

 

Point #12

  1. Go for the Gold. Once you have a book in print, try creating a video book trailer for your website. Windows Movie Maker software can help you turn out a mighty nice one. Hey! If you have done all the previous points, you can do the book trailer. It’s the latest thing out there. Other writers are doing them.

Micraphone Man

 

Tough love segment: Agents and publishers are looking for any excuse to say “no” to you and your manuscript. But if you have most of these twelve bullet points mastered, they are going to find it hard to turn you down. You show initiative and you follow through. That means they won’t have worry about expending time and money on a newcomer. (Let them spend their time and money when your efforts pay off and you have a Best Seller.) Do your homework now and maybe your publisher will spring for the book trailer and book tour later.

 

A Final Thought

You aren’t alone out there. There are plenty of people who are at the same level in their career as you. There are some a little further along, some even more of a newcomer than you are. Writers today are learning that they need to master these same silly skills in order to get themselves noticed. Why not you?

These bullet points are meant to give you a heads up in this business and to urge you learn them, try them, and to get your name plastered all over the Internet along with your terrific face. You have a vested interest in getting a book published and selling those books. You are also the best salesman of your work. Nobody knows you like you.

Use all these “platforms” to climb up to the top of the heap and shout your name from the rooftops. Each one will make you a better writer and more interesting to an agent or publisher.

All the best with your writing career.

If you found these various postings about Building a Platform helpful, you might like to know where they came from. These helpful hints as well as a bunch of other timely tips can be found in a little book called So You Want to be a Writer by Yours Truly. There are also a few short stories for your reading enjoyment in the rather thick book. It’s a companion piece to The Anatomy of a Short Story that came out several years ago. I do love to teach. Write On!

So You Want to be a Writer Amazon cover 2anatomy-book-cover

Author: gbpool

A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (writing as G.B. Pool) writes two detective series: the Gin Caulfield P.I. series (Media Justice, Hedge Bet & Damning Evidence) and The Johnny Casino Casebook Series. She also penned a series of spy novels, The SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power. She has a collection of short stories in From Light To DARK, as well as novels: Eddie Buick’s Last Case, Enchanted: The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier, The Santa Claus Singer, and three delightful holiday storied, Bearnard’s Christmas, The Santa Claus Machine, and Every Castle Needs a Dragon. Also published: CAVERNS and Second Chance. She is the former Speakers Bureau Director for Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and also a member of Mystery Writers of America and The Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story,” (The Anatomy of a Short Story Workbook is available.) “How To Write Convincing Dialogue” and “Writing a Killer Opening Line” in sunny Southern California. Website: www.gbpool.com.

18 thoughts on “Building a Platform”

  1. This has been a well thought out and helpful series from start to finish, Gayle. This final segment, focusing on connecting with readers in-person, is especially important as it is challenging for many writers. If we hesitate or avoid it, we must ask ourselves why – if we can’t get behind our work, how can we expect anyone else to?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writers might think readers just drop out of the sky. Nope. We need to go out, show potential readers what we do, and keep telling them until they just have to buy one of our books.

      Like

  2. Terrific post, G.B. , and so true. Joining Toastmasters was the smartest thing I did when my first book was published. By the time the launch came around, I could talk for fifteen minutes in front of a crowd without choking. These all all great, practical, do-able points that any writer should follow to, as you say, separate the pros from the amateurs. I’ve seen you do them all at one time or another and know that you practice what you preach.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post, Gayle. When I started to get published, I wasn’t aware that getting in front of crowds to let them know about my books was critical–and I was shy then. But I learned by experience. Now, bring ’em on!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My goodness – Gayle, once again, you are adding to my To Do list! But great pointers, as usual. You really are such a great ‘teacher’ for us. Thank you! And thank you for keeping us up to snuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great series, Gayle, and sure are points (especially this one) that I need to remind myself of over and over. (I loved that panel–I think mainly you were such a good facilitator and put me at ease). I’m going to try to keep everything I’ve learned in your series here foremost in my mind–but the hard part is doing. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mad, I still have a few of these pointers to try or at least try again. I keep getting better at it as long as I know it’s the best way to get my work out there to the reader.

      Like

  6. I love the advice you give in short, understandable (and memorable) tips. I have to admit, with your first paragraph I immediately imagined a SANDWICH! Right! You did mention ham and mustard! (haha) But learning to be a good speaker and reader to an audience is very important. In fact, I’m taking a class in the fall to learn how to do that (compile material and present it). I’ll have to actually make a 20 minute video at the end for others to watch!!
    Gayle, you ARE a good teacher. We can tell you are experienced, and write from that knowledge. Thanks!!
    For anyone reading this comment, be sure to scroll back and read her previous posts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As I have mentioned before, I have learned from watching and doing and finally wrote down some of these tips so that others might give them a try. Be sure to tell us about the class you take later in the year. I love to learn.

      Liked by 1 person

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