Lists for Writers: 10 Tips for Building a Writing Platform for Your Memoir, Book or eBook

by Kendra Bonnett on October 1, 2010

Book Business PaperclipPost #59 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

word-of-mouthPlatform building for memoir writers is, well, a favorite platform of mine. I’ve written about it several times here on Women’s Memoirs. Here are links to a couple of my earlier posts:

Building a platform for your memoir writing (indeed, all your writing) is critical to your success as an author who actually sells more than 50 or 60 books. But rather than me simply lathering on at the mouth, I thought I’d introduce you to several writers who while they agree with me make the case in different ways.

One thing you will notice is that every one of these writers tells you to get a blog of your own and to start posting regularly. And second, while social networking will bring prospective readers to your blog, be careful. Don’t try to take on too many social networking commitments up front. Maybe you’ll stick to Facebook and Twitter in the early stages…with one local outlet for promotion within your community. That’s quite enough to get you started.

If I’ve raised more questions than answered, please post your comments below and I’ll try to help.

How to build a writing platform for your memoir…

10 Ways to Achieve National Visibility for Writers Laurie Pawlik-Klenien, writing for Suite101.com, provides a good overview of why and how to build a writing platform for your memoir…or any book, for that matter. As she notes, only celebrities, politicians, movie stars, top models, and billionaires have the sort of “ready made” platforms that enable them to sell their memoirs, tell-alls and self-help titles. The rest of us must build from the ground up. While Number One on her list is to create a website/blog, Laurie includes several things you can do in your community. I like the way she encourages writers to combine the web with their local activities.

Don’t overlook the obvious when building a platform for your memoir…

Common Platform Mistakes Writers Make Fiction writer, editor, freelance journalist Jordan E. Rosenfeld (Make a Scene) gave three blog posts to her interview with Christina Katz (the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal). I like the way she’s turned the usual list of Do’s upside down and into a list of Don’ts because I think it emphasizes the consequences. For example: “They undervalue the platform they already have” reminds us not to abandon something we’ve already worked hard to develop just to move on to something new that captures our interest. In fact, you can still move on to a new area…just don’t leave your previous hard work in the dustbin. Use it as a launching point for getting into something new.

Offer a wide range of free content related to the subject of your memoir…

Why a Writing Platform is a Must: 13 Ways to Build Yours In this post on Be a Better Writer, Pearl Luke offers a few ideas we haven’t seen on other lists, including to moderate free teleconferences, offer a newsletter, and create short video presentations. I’m less a fan of spending money to advertise or even to hire a publicist. I prefer organic growth through social media where the only cost is my time and creativity. But for organic growth (both on blogs and social media) you need to allot enough time for you and your blogsite to catch on. If you’re getting a late start, you may have to spend some money on advertising and promotion.

I’m including this one for a reason…

10 Ways to Build Your Writer’s Platform This post on Quips and Tips for Successful Writers is Laurie Pawlik-Klenien’s variation on her column for Suite101.com but I include it for two important reasons. First, Laurie makes a point in her opening to stress the need to persevere. I can’t overemphasize the need to stick to it. Success is not going to come overnight. You’re going to get frustrated in the early months when it appears that no one is reading you or commenting. It’s tough–even for an established platform–to get people to comment. But always remember that even if no one else is reading, Google is always reading. And that’s going to help you move up to a position of prominence in a Google search. So don’t give up.

My second reason for including this post was the February 3, 2009 comment: “I keep asking this question. If I do all of the above and build a platform, why should I submit a manuscript to a publisher?” As Laurie suggests, there are a lot of ways to answer this one. But I want to use it make a couple of points: Platform building is not the same as self-publishing…even if you self publish in a digital format. Platform building is a form of marketing that you use to make you and your book/product known to an online audience. And finally, the content that you include on your blog should not take away from your book. It should add and expand on your topic and, ideally, open the door for an exchange of ideas and information with your readers.

The granddaddy of lists for building your memoir writing platform…

30 Ways to Build Your Writer Platform Jennifer Mattern, writing for All Freelance Writing, gives us this extensive list of ideas that I hope will get your own creativity flowing because the truth is there is no limit to the ideas YOU can come up with…once you realize there are no limits. Are you beginning to see, too, that platform building is really just another name for marketing or market building? Picture yourself standing on a soapbox in the middle of a park with nothing more than an armful of books and the power of your own words. That’s platform building. The many creative ways you develop to get your words heard and, ultimately, attract a crowd will determine your success. You’re not selling as much as you’re sharing ideas that resonate with people.

One word of warning, with a long list like this, you’ll be tempted to try to do too much. Pick a couple of things to start with. Work with them for awhile. Get established before you add more to your list. If you try to start out doing everything on this list, you will collapse under the pressure, fail and we’ll all be visiting you in the hospital. Come to think of it, that might make an interesting platform for the next memoir about your physical and mental breakdown…

“Before Publishing” are the operative words…

Build an Author Platform Before Publishing Suzanne Pitner’s title for this post on Suite101.com says it all. I like this post because Suzanne suggests that marketing is an integral component of writing your book. I actually believe that determining your niche for blogging and getting very focused with your goals will help you with your book. Neither book OR blog should be an afterthought. They should be complementary and in harmony.

You know I’m a fan of Jane Friedman…

Building a Platform for Your Writing Given that I believe that Jane Friedman is a fount of great ideas for writers, I could have just pointed you to her There Are No Rules blog. But for a change of pace, I decided to give you this post from Racquel Henry, of Racquel Writes, who is obviously a fellow fan. She gives you a short list of platform building ideas from Jane.

Another (shorter) list from Jennifer Mattern…

Building Your Writer Platform Online You have Jennifer Mattern’s big list above, but I wanted to include her short list of just five techniques (taken from Lillie Ammann’s blog A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye) because I want to draw your attention to Number Four, “Use the Web as a Teaching Tool.” There is so much you can do using your expertise. You are, after all, an expert…you wrote the book. You can create videos, coach, put out newsletters, run teleseminars, create a podcast series and much more. Not only does Google love the various digital formats (especially video) but these are all inexpensive to distribute online. That means that you can put out a lot of content and get wide visibility without much cost. You’re going to need a microphone, maybe a Flip Video, and some sort of screen-capture and video-editing software, which I’ve written about before, and then it’s just a matter of time and your own creativity. This is a wonderful way to build a platform.

Spread your words around…

Build Your Platform by Guest Blogging Shennandoah Diaz, writing for Selling Books, makes an excellent point. I thought perhaps all I had to add were a few words of support…yes, absolutely, right on! But I came up with one more…a resource: Cathy Stucker’s BloggerLinkUp. This is a great way to find guest blogging opportunities as well as post invitations to other bloggers to blog on your site. It’s free; it works.

She’ll tell two friends…and they’ll tell two friends…

7 Ways to Build Your Online Platform from Scratch This set of tips comes from Chris Tomlinson, guest blogging on Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership. I like Chris’ list because it includes a little touch of “how to.” I especially like Number 5, “Build and engage a network.” As he says, “it’s finding people that know where you live [online, of course] and invite themselves, and their friends, over for dinner.” That is the essence of social networking. If you put out great content in a variety of formats, your audience will self-select. And when they feel the decision to follow you is their own and not the result of strong-arm selling tactics, they will become more than followers. They will become advocates for you. That’s how you get word of mouth.

Two videos to help You build your memoir writing platform

In “Overwhelmed with Author Platform Building,” Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn (you may remember her from last week’s list) shares three critical tips to help you build a successful platform for your memoir: 1) Think through your strategy and focus, 2) settle on an online hub…what I call the home base, and 3) use only a couple social media tools to point people to your hub.

In “Using Journaling as a Social Media Platform,” author/presenter Bob Yehling of Millennium Media Masters recommends that you use journal material related to your book subject for your blog posts. I agree. Whatever you do, DO NOT cannibalize your book for content. Anything that you can write about related subjects and the backstory for your book will be welcomed reading for your prospective audience.




{ 1 trackback }

When Rosie the Riveter Bandana Meets Memoir Writer — Memoir Writing Blog
October 3, 2010 at

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryellen Grady October 3, 2010 at

Kendra sends out another gift basket of goodies in this well-researched article. I really appreciate all the important information of interest to me as a writer that she ferrets out and compiles into great articles like this one. She is a wonder and a gift!

Kendra Bonnett October 4, 2010 at

Thanks, Maryellen. I’m glad these lists are appreciated. There’s so much content out there, it’s positively overwhelming. So this is my little effort to reduce data to information…and maybe share a little experience.

Hannah Hunter October 4, 2010 at

I’ve been struggling with the thought of platform building. This material has shed some light on this for me. These lists are great.

Leave a Comment

Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category