Tuesday, September 06, 2016

When is a website platform?

On page 15, under "What you need BEFORE you query," for Platform/established presence, you have a "No" in the Fiction column.

Up until now, I have been reading/hearing that a fiction author needs to have a website, blog, FB, Twitter, and all that stuff up and running ahead of time, because it shows that one is proactive in building a following, being one's own publicist, etc. Would I be wasting my limited time in doing these things now? If so, when is a good time to get going on it?

Here's the list that the questioner was citing

This is a good question because a blog or a website CAN be platform, but most often it's not. 
Confused yet?
Excellent, my evil plan to torment writers continues.

A blog or a website is platform only if it's BIG.  For example QueryShark.blogspot.com is platform because it gets thousands of hits on each post.

My website JetReidLiterary.com is NOT platform. It gets fewer hits, and it's not providing new and updated content regularly.

My website, like your website most likely, is your electronic address.

You need an electronic address.
You do NOT need a blog with new and updated content, and thousands of hits,  to query a novel. 



JeffO said...

My impression is, for fiction writers, your writing IS the platform.

nightsmusic said...

Platform? We don't need no stinkin' platform!

I know, not true, but I still don't understand all of that stuff. I just want to write and while I know that should I finally get noticed someday that I'll have to step up and make my presence more known, right now, I'm lucky to ever post on my site at all.

I thought this was timely this morning though since your evil plan to torment us is going along nicely...

How to Survive a Shark Attack

AJ Blythe said...

Thank goodness we don't need our blog to have new and updated content with thousand of hits! Sorry, dear Shark, that's brilliant news - no torment in sight =)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

And I like Gary Corby's comment on that link!

Thank you, Opie for the question. So when we start out, blogs or websites are potential platform.

Kitty said...

I've never heard the term "electronic address." Do you mean an email address?

Lucie Witt said...

Platform for fiction writers is a funny thing because it often just means you have a popular blog. And the content that draws readers there isn't really indicative of potential support for your fiction endeavors.

When I was querying I know a few agents checked out my website/blog (one who stepped aside sent me a kind message about my post on sexual assault, which was nice) but I think it was mostly a nonfactor.

It's so fun to be back here talking shop in the mornings.

Colin Smith said...

You do NOT need a blog with new and updated content, and thousands of hits, to query a novel.

Thank goodness! But... my inner woodland creature wants to equate the number of hits my blog gets with how much people enjoy reading my stuff. This is somewhat irrational, since I don't blog stories every day, and my Doctor Who episode reviews are not necessarily reflective of the stories I write. But IWC (Inner Woodland Creature) skitters around my head saying, "Yeah, but if they loved your writing they would visit just to read what you write!" To which I say, "My Mum reads my blog!" And IWC retorts, "That's because you're 3,500 miles away and you don't use Facebook!" So I come back with, "And my wife reads it!" To which IWC responds, "Only because you spend half your time locked away in your room writing or packing up books or whatever you do back there; it's the only way she can be sure you're still alive!" To which I... throw something at IWC, which isn't a good idea since IWC resides in my head.

Anyway... yes, I'm glad I don't need thousands of blog readers before I can query. Thanks for that reminder, Janet. :)

Lennon Faris said...

I agree with AJ - it's a relief to hear you say this again. I find that when I get time my precious snatches of time, I feel like they're best spent writing the WIP or reading (or, this blog. That's a given though).

An author may not know this ahead of time, but maybe an exception would be if you get published by a small publisher, or self publish? Then you are doing most of the leg-work for marketing/ promoting and it seems like it would be very beneficial to already have a following.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

As someone who describes herself as a guppy in a mud puddle I'm still hesitating on the high platform.

Springboards may launch the diver but it is from the platform you must launch yourself.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I feel tormented but that's an ongoing condition. Maybe related to this blog. Maybe just natural writer affliction.

I am glad I have my blog as silly as it is. It's not a platform. I write fiction. It probably won't help me sell books down the line but it is a place to find me should my books break the light of day.

DLM said...

Apart from the odd Trek nerd or two, and my brother, a few Reiders are pretty much my readership. Every now and then I'll shill the blog on Twitter, which REALLY improves the looks of my stats, but I don't think I've gained any sustained readers there unless someone's lurking.

Right now, the WIP itself has enticed me out of thinking about all the other administrivia. Querying and woodland-creaturing are still a distant prospect. It's a nice place to be!

Lucie Witt said...


I'm a lurker. I caught up during the hiatus!

Donnaeve said...

Here's a twist on the topic regarding platform.

When I was writing "regular" posts for my blog - usually about the process of writing, (pre-sale) and then about the pub'ing process (post sale), and the random topic now and then, I sense I had more readers. A few weeks ago, I thought I'd share the first sentences from chapters out of Dixie every Friday, to give a bit of insight to the book. Kensington loved the idea, and cross promote it on their platforms. However, I feel like readership has dropped. Certainly less people comment.

I've looked at my stats and they're okay - but certainly nothing to scream about, and certainly before First Sentence Fridays, they were stronger. To me, this is where I think social media marketing and the requirement to do it, etc., sort of proves, when you appear to be "pushing" your book, the sound of crickets amplifies. It's once a week. So it's not in your face, and there is nothing about the posts that say, buy my book, please buy my book! I thought it was creative, and a good way to engage potential readers.

Just sharing from the trenches of pre-pub promo. :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Now there's a fascinating bunny trail! I've tried to analyze my blog stats to figure out what kind of posts generate hits and comments. Like you, I've found posts that generate hits don't necessarily generate comments, and vice versa. However, the blogging gurus would say that comments are more valuable because they show reader engagement, not just someone hitting the page, reading the first line, yawning, and clicking away (which could be happening for a lot of those big-hit articles).

But there's no consistency. I've written more "personal" posts thinking that's what people enjoy... and they've garnered few comments and not a lot of hits. Book reviews appear to go down well, but not always.

I've come to the conclusion that to really succeed at blogging, you need to do one of the following:

a) have a focus, and market yourself heavily among your focus audience. Which takes a lot of time and energy. Examples: you write book reviews for your blog (and the occasional off-topic post). Or, you are the parent of 30 children, and you manage to write a novel every couple of weeks as well as maintain a blog. Or, you are of a particular ethnicity or point of view that isn't mainstream, and you write about life in your resident country from your eyes.

b) have a focus that naturally attracts an audience. E.g., you're a seasoned literary agent who blogs about life in publishing, offers tips to aspiring authors, answers readers' questions, runs the occasional writing contest, and does all of this with wit and charm.

c) be a celebrity. Once you become a nytba, Donna, expect your blog stats to skyrocket. :)

So, while I will occasionally sigh at the lack of attention my blog gets, I'll suck it up. I'm not a professional blogger, and if I devote more time than I do to my blog (which is already probably too much), other things that are way more important (e.g., my family and my fiction writing) will suffer.

I don't know about y'all, but I wouldn't mind hearing some other thoughts about this. Especially if your blog its a vibrant, happening place. What's the secret to your success? Do you just have to be a vibrant, happening person? If so, I'm doomed! :)

Lucie Witt said...


I'm a lurker. I caught up during the hiatus!

DLM said...

Lucie, thank you!

Donna, I happen to love the first-sentence posts, BUT it feels less like you're "talking" to a blog audience. I feel like blogs are often conversations - see also, us chickens right here - so when there is little more to say than "I can't wait to see your novel" or "you've got me hooked" you see fewer comments, though the readers are still *there*. It is a bit like Janet's own recent hiatus, we were all still here and looking, but we weren't talking as much about lima beans and woodland issues.

My own blog doesn't see enough readership for me to analyze what gets more response. So I just keep curating a varied mix of long and short, personal and link-intensive, a bit of talk about writing, and costume/archaeology/history/Trek.

Kelsey Hutton said...

Hi Kitty,

Electronic address just means that there's a dedicated place online for your contact information.

This way if a potential agent reads a short story of yours in an anthology, for example, and thinks "Wowza, I have to see if Kitty's querying anything right now!" she can get in touch.

I created my website after a similar post of Janet's a while back. It doesn't have any blog posts and it's just a free Wordpress theme, but it tells anyone Googling kelseyhutton.com that I'm a writer and this is where to email me.

Janet Reid said...

Kelsey Hutton is right on the money.

Think of your house as your electronic address: it's where you live online, but your email address is the house number: what people need to use to get a letter to your house.

And oh my gosh, how amazingly wonderful it is to get back to work today!
Yes, I got my first rejection of the Fall season (ptooey!) but it means I'm doing what I love: yapping to people about books they're going to love!

And the blog is up and vibrant again!

I am AMAZED at how much I missed writing those posts!

Kelsey Hutton said...

And we missed reading them!

I missed posting on the "welcome back" thread earlier this week, Janet. So welcome back! We're all the happier (and better informed) for it : )

E.M. Goldsmith said...

And we are so glad you like doing this, your majesty. Like I said in my blog that nobody much reads, I need this blog the way an addict needs their heroin. So relieved you are back.

Beth said...

Whew - one less 'sposeto to worry about. I'm pretty sure I could have all the regular readers of my blog over for dinner and not run out of chairs. Still, I enjoy it because if I want something to write about, I have to pay attention to what's around me. Plus, I take more photos. And my contact information is there, just in case.

Donnaeve said...

Colin Agree. I didn't set out to do anything but chat with myself and practice writing when I started the blog in 2010 or 2011, not sure. There was no goal. There was no desire to do anything other than see if anything I wrote resonated. If that is my marker of success, then I can happily say - success! Because to me, even if what I say only matters to one person - it was worth it.

Diane, I'm glad! You're right. How many times can one say "can't wait!" or "ooooh, intriguing!" or "I love this!" It is more of a one way street at the moment. That will change October 28th. :)

And look there, even the Shark gets rejections!

Colin Smith said...

Donna: October 28th? What's happening on October 28th?? How can we find out???!!


Sherry Howard said...

I've been absent a few days and there's so much to catch up with! I missed a flash contest. Congratulations on all the great entries and winner!

Re: October 28 link. I'd just checked my Amazon account and saw my pre-order just sitting there, all innocent. I wondered when the mailing date would be: Amazon promised October 25 mailing date. I'm excited to read.

BJ Muntain said...

What makes a writer's blog compelling?

Uniqueness. Now, that could simply be personality, which is important. It could also be a uniqueness in the type of information you pass on.

One thing that isn't unique about writers' blogs are blogs solely about writing. Those blogs only appeal to writers, and while it may seem to us that that's a huge audience, it's not.

To increase readership beyond other writers, it's important to write about things that non-writers may find interesting. Which is pretty much everything *but* writing.

Diehard fans, who love your books, will eagerly follow your posts on writing, simply to get into your mind and learn more about upcoming books. If you haven't published yet, you probably don't have many of those fans. You want to appeal to non-fans, so you can turn them into diehard fans.

What will your fans be interested in? If you write historical fiction, your fans may be interested in the historical period you write about. If you write fantasy, your fans may be interested in mythology or monarchies or types of magic. I write science fiction and have a (much neglected) blog about science. Because I found that, while my writing-related blogs were found interesting by writers, non-writers didn't care a whit. And I'd like my books to appeal to non-writers, too.

Brigid said...

I'm so glad you missed us, Janet! I don't know what we'd do if you discovered your life was complete without us.

I am waiting on tenterhooks for Dixie Dupree. In the meanwhile, I devoured our Kari Lynn Dell's Reckless in Texas and loved it. (I requested it at the library and had to wait in line, which I think is a good sign.)

I took note of this sentence for y'all:
"The trouble with you, Violet, is that you've got a head for business and a heart for thrills, and as far as I can tell, the two of them aren't on speaking terms."

The whole book is like that, filled with delicious sentences and vivid characterization. I deeply enjoyed it.

Kitty said...

Thank you, Kelsey Hutton!

Karen McCoy said...

Love the house analogy. It can also be helpful to put an online portfolio together if you are looking for freelance writing opportunities. Doing this now, with WordPress, and learning a lot...

AAGreene said...

I'm curious what one looks for on a writer's website before they're published. If there's not an updated blog, what would you want to see? Or is the fact that one exists proof that the writer is on his/her way toward building that platform?


Donnaeve said...

Colin Too funny. I wish I was about to pop off some big news here, but I simply meant October 28th was the last First Sentence Friday - and then I could go back to my usual titillating blather. :)

Your heightened sense of excitement/alarm was worth that three day difference in pub date. Bwwwaaaaahhhahaha.

Brigid Thank you!

Donnaeve said...

Sherry Howard Thank you too!

Anonymous said...

It's funny that we're talking about blogging today, as lately I've been contemplating the fact that on the 16th of this month, I will have been blogging for TEN YEARS. I think I started off trying for once a week and am now down to feeling good if I manage once a month. I've thought about quitting, but I sort of panic at the thought of not having a place to say things I want to say that aren't fiction.

Colin: As for what "works" for get readers/followers, I have no idea. I'm all over the place with topics and have no desire to change that. I can say that I gained a ton of new followers (and likes) in April when I participated in the A to Z Challenge by writing a novella on my blog. So I guess people want stories. Who knew. ;-) I anticipated most of them would unfollow once the month was over and they realized I wasn't going to continue posting fiction on my blog, but instead I keep getting a handful of new followers every week, a much higher rate than before April. Although that's certainly not reflected in the comments.

It's good to know it's not a requirement, but I really enjoy having a blog. I'd do it even if no one ever read it. In fact, it's often easier to write a post when I pretend that no one ever will read it. Same with fiction, actually.

Peggy Larkin said...

This was an excellent reminder to go change my website's front page to a static page (just my bio, for now... hopefully someday I'll figure out something more interesting to open with, haha) instead of the blog, since I only update about once a month (hey, with a toddler and a full-time job, I rejoice when it's THAT often).

I am, however, getting better at tweeting, since that's faster and can often (but not always) be done before the toddler destroys anything particularly valuable. (But not always.)

Panda in Chief said...

I actually have a couple of blogs. One for fine art that I got tired of coming up with things to blog about, so I changed it to a static front page and treat it more like a website. My panda blog (yourbrainonpandas.com) is where my weekly action is. I'm not at the thousands of hits per day stage, but I do get thousands of hits per month, and for the last 3 years readership is growing by about 15% or more every year. Yay!

Mostly, it is the new cartoons that I do and post each week, and sometimes if something is going on with real pandas or politics, I may write a bit about that. Next week a friend with a new picture book coming out has a guest post of sorts. One of my cartoon characters is interviewing her MC. Should be fun, having a poodle interviewed by a very badly behaved pandas.

The worse this character behaves, the more comments and views I get. My regular audience may be in the hundreds instead of millions, but I can say my regular readers really "get" my characters, and that feels like a very positive thing.

The main reason I started the blog was to see if anyone liked the cartoons besides my friends who had too many martinis. In February it will be 8 years. It definitely helped when I started keeping to a regular schedule.

MA Hudson said...

DLM - That's such a great conjoined word, 'administrivia'. It perfectly expresses my regrettable attitude to paperwork!

Kelsey - I admire your straight-to-the-point website. I wasted a lot of mental energy coming up with content for my site when it seems all we need is a contact page parked somewhere on the Internet.

I have the same content problem with establishing a blog. What would I write about and WHEN would I write it? Writing time is a precious commodity. That said, I'm still afflicted with the niggling intention of starting a blog.

Panda in Chief - Sounds like your blog is the perfect platform for your form of fiction and really gives your readers a taste of what they'd get from any future publication. Keep up the good work. I'm sure it will all pay off.