3 Things Every Author Needs

Cranky Cat is humiliated.

Have you heard the advice to “start building that writer’s platform long before you actually publish? Have you wished you could crawl into your attic and hide there so you don’t have to do it? Yeah, me too. But the reality is that every writer should begin building a platform today.

Writing Tip for Today: For this post I’m going to assume the writer has enough skill to at least attract the attention of an agent or editor. What are three things every writer should work on toward building a platform?

A Web Presence.

One of the first things agents and editors often do after receiving a query or consulting with a potential client is to Google that person to see what sort of website or other presence the writer has on the web. Why? Editors and agents can gauge your level of commitment and professionalism by seeing your site. You should work to at least construct a decent “landing page,” with a theme and possibly a brand logo. If you still don’t know what you want to be brandwise, make your site simple and yet appealing. Avoid using dark or black backgrounds with light type–these are hard on the eyes. Avoid too much stuff–clutter can make you seem disorganized. Definitely avoid animated stuff–it’s distracting. And using a feather pen or a typewriter in your banner can make you appear dated. If you must build your own site rather than pay a pro, start with WordPress and do a blog. Buy a domain name (they’re inexpensive) so the url (address) is more a site than a blog. I’m getting ready to take this blog to my own website and so I’m no longer recommending Blogger as a starting point. WordPress is far more versatile and easier to switch to a premium account.

A Good Headshot.

Hire a good photographer to do a high resolution photo. You’ll probably want a standard headshot plus another one that is friendly, inviting and “business casual” for your site. Photographers vary wildly in their fees but I think somewhere around $200 is reasonable. Try to make sure you are given the entire shoot instead of one or two shots that are the “best.” This way you may be able to swap out the photos for variety.

Paper Trail v. Digital Calling Card

Even in today’s digital world, business cards are still useful. In some writing arenas, one sheets (a single page that pitches a book idea) are still used. You can get a big box of business cards with your photo on them for between $10 and $25.00 + shipping & taxes. But more and more I see this shifting to digital resources. There are now Twitter cards–online business cards. And many wanna-be-published writers are presenting a book trailer made in advance of a contract. These can be viewed via tablet or phone during a short consultation and are often much better at describing a book than traditional verbal or even written pitches. I think right now we should use everything which helps–from traditional paper trails to digital videos and so forth.

As you build your platform, these three things (Web presence, headshot & calling card) will be mandatory. Why not start today?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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