It’s becoming at least as important for novel writers to build a platform as it is for nonfiction writers. Whether the novelist writes in an expected genre, style or other associations, readers seem to quickly form assumptions. Only a very few novelists become successful as generalists, and even those authors often get associated with regions or issues. What are some ways to build the Novelist’s Platform?
Writing Tip for Today: For nonfiction authors, platform is usually built around a key subject, product or issue that can be written about, lectured upon, or tweeted about endlessly. Novelists who takes their cues from tried and true nonfiction platform helps are usually ahead of the curve. Here are some things to think about if you are a novelist still in platform development:
- Picture your books on the shelf. Be certain of the category and even subcategory you’re writing. It’s no longer specific enough to say, “Romance.” These days, readers want to know if it’s Romantic Suspense, Romantic Comedy or Historical Romance.
- Picture your readers. Your novel will probably appeal to one group more than others. Is this the teen market, women, Christian women or some other demographic?
- Is there a prominent issue dealt with in your story? Might the novel appeal to group such as caregivers, the divorced or those concerned about human trafficking? Identify at least one topic your book integrates and appeal to the same group of people who deal with that issue.
- Learn to speak publicly. Even if you have to attend Toastmasters meetings, get rid of the “shy author” complex. Learn to speak publicly on not only your novel but that issue you identified earlier.
- Link your topic to a cause and then donate some of your book sale proceeds. I’ve seen authors who work against sexual slavery raise money for that cause. My own novel deals with Native Americans, so I donated a percentage of my book sale proceeds to a Native American school.
- Link your novel to a month or holiday.
- Put something in the reader’s hands. Many novelists run contests to give away much more than a book. Jewelry or some object that figures into your story might be a way to link your novel with something tangible. Other ideas include raffled goodie baskets, home baked cookies at signings or even the time-honored bookmark or pen.
Try This! Make a list of ten things you might do to help build your own “Novel Platform.” Put a star next to at least one of the items you can work on in the coming week, and do it!