Platform: Your Writing Readership

Seems as if every so often, I run into the same dead end in my writing: the dreaded writer’s platform. Have a helping of the latest ways to grow a readership.

Writing Tip for Today: What are some best practices for building your writer’s platform?

Fiction v. Nonfiction

In ways a nonfiction platform may seem easier to build due to its focus on topic. A nonfiction writer wants to find and retain readers who are interested in the topic they write about. If you write books about cats (ha ha no one I know!), you look for readers who love cats. If you write about chemical engineering, well there’s bound to be a couple interested readers out there. Kidding.

Fiction writers may think they have a tougher go at finding interested readers, but you can draw in readers by the period you write in, genre or even where your story is set. Find an interesting angle about your character and explore that. And if the character has a cat, your job is much easier. 🙂

Kidding aside, the way you grow a platform is by finding and retaining readers who love at least some of the same things you do. Fiction or nonfiction, tapping into the flame that keeps a reader turning pages late into the night equals writer platform gold. And yes, we all need one.

But It’s Overwhelming!

In the past decade, social media has changed at a frantic pace. Where we once tried to find readers on Facebook or Twitter, now there’s Instagram and TikTok and who knows what pops up tomorrow. Yet I think the same wisdom given by successful authors is still true.

Find one or two social sites to become active on. Don’t try to be everywhere. Keep your focus on the platform where you 1) believe you will find the most sympathetic readers to your writing and 2) feel comfortable using it on a regular basis.

When you become active on social media, do not focus on selling books. Instead work at forming relationships. Comment and participate as much as you feel comfortable, but don’t think of the community as only a place to sell. Build real relationships. And don’t spend all your time on writing or author sites—go where your readers are.

Build your writing platform using email newsletters.

Mining Platform Gold

As virtually every marketing guru will tell you, social media isn’t a great way to build your readership. Yes, you have to do some of it, but the real gold is in the email newsletter. From the day you start thinking about your readership, begin to think in terms of collecting email addresses.

The thinking goes that yes, email is rather old-fashioned compared to TikTok, but email is also much more personal. A person who entrusts you with their email address is much more likely to read what you send. When you start that newsletter, be sure to think about what value you can offer that person. It could be interesting info, your delightful style that brings a smile or even background dirt on your characters or genre.

And just how do we get people to give their email to us? By offering something valuable. Usually for free. It might be a collection of your writing, some back story on a character or cool info about your created universe. Some call this a content magnet—it attracts people to give up that email address in exchange for content they feel a need for. Next post, we’ll talk more about newsletter dos and don’ts and pulling together that content magnet. For now, start brainstorming ideas for your newsletter’s title, how often you want to publish one and who your ideal reader might be. That’s all—easy-peasy. We all fret about platform-building, but if you want to find readers, a decent platform is a necessity.

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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