Building a Platform? Finding Helpful Resources


“If you want to be a nonfiction author, you’ve GOT to work on building your platform?”

I perked up when I heard the word “platform” mentioned for the umpteenth time at my first writing conference.

Building my what? I didn’t expect this advice at a “Christian” writing conference. In fact, I didn’t even know what the workshop leader meant by “platform.”

Hands popped up all over the conference room, asking questions about “building a platform.”

“Can you give us more information?” Another frenzied writer whined.

A few seats down from me, an older lady with a wrinkled brow whispered to the person next to her, “What does she mean by ‘platform’?”

“I didn’t think ‘Christian’ writers should focus on building a platform,” someone mumbled. “Is that even scriptural?”

The murmurings continued…

I felt my blood pressure rise as I listened to all of the questions and observed the body language of the writers all around me.

I shook my head in disbelief as I considered all that I had done to prepare for this moment—particularly the last five years of academic writing. Is she saying that I need to study marketing now? Oh, great!

A few days later, I abandoned my first writing conference early due to a family crisis. So I didn’t get a chance to hear more about platform building.

Overwhelmed, my thoughts about building a platform and my mother’s untimely death left me dazed and confused. Should I even go forward with “writing for publication” now?

One workshop leader warned us against “quitting your day job.”

Great! I just quit my day job, I whispered under my breath. I had just turned down the offer to teach writing as an adjunct instructor again that semester. Why? I needed to help with our ongoing family needs, and I wanted to focus what time I did find on writing for publication.

After the conference, if someone even mentioned the word platform, I would voice my frustration with a favorite quote from Gone with the Wind, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

What’s a writer to do? Where can we go for information on building a platform? Back when I started, I had to dig deep for information. Now, you can find more resources than ever before now on that topic.

Michael Hyatt is one of the best resources I’ve found on platform building. I started following Hyatt’s blog on the advice of other writers several years ago. A few years later,  when he published his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I ordered my copy hoping to improve my own platform. I still recommend this book to other writers who ask me for help in that area. I’ve even led my own writing workshop on platform building based on what I’ve learned.

New Year’s plans. As I await my first book publication this spring, I’m still struggling with all the details of platform building—blogging, social networking, speaking, and writing. With all the advances in technology and social media, I’m always seeking new resources and ways to stay up-to-date with publishing info.

What are your plans for the New Year? What have been your strategies? What’s your secret? Did you quit your day job? Do you have any platform building tips that you would be willing to share with other writers?

I’m hoping this blog post will initiate a conversation about platform building. So, I hope to hear from you. Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.

What resources have helped you build your platform?

10 Replies to “Building a Platform? Finding Helpful Resources”

  1. Thanks Karen! You put a spark in my wood! A little light turned on as I read this. The platform sounds very interesting! I’ll be checking into learning more on this. Look forward to blogging, learning about social networking, and writing! Thanks again for your encouraging post! 🙂

  2. Hi Karen. My first book comes out in 2017 and I was challenged to try to get an email list of 5000 by that time. Which caused me to spew my chai latte down my chin. While I get traffic to my blog, I have a very (repeat – very) small blog following. So yesterday I offered my first free download in exchange for an email. Crossing my fingers. Planning to offer several others in the year I have before my book comes out. I tied the download to a new FB group and a class I am teaching on memoir. Long way to go. My sister is challenging me to provide a webinar. Thinking about it. My book is my experience with the difficult reality of cancer (Me and both parents) and I am heavily involved in the cancer community. I have found a lot of interest in cancer patients recording their memories for future generations which gives me a niche group. Would love to brainstorm about your ideas as a new author also.

  3. Hi Karen,
    Your post greatly spoke to me as I am juggling the whole “platform building” versus final edit on my book for my newly-acquired agent, amidst life with three kids and a husband who travels weekly for work.
    I realize the importance of platform, but like another commenter alluded to, I had not expected it in a “Christian” genre. With so many authors, we must set ourselves apart. The hard reality is that there is a business side to writing, and platform building is part of that business.
    So what am I doing? I joined Michael Hyatt’s Platform University ( he’ll reopen enrollment in the spring) and I’ve been building my email list.
    I also have joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking, (it has definetly built my confidence!) And, I’m still editing with my agent so I’m not building a platform while my product sits unfinished!
    These initial steps and propelled me way outside my comfortable world of words and plots and characters for my novels. But, I have surprised myself. I love my Toastmasters group. We are all so different but everyone is so supportive of one another! Also, while I love words, I also cherish the beginnings of a relationship I’m building with my readers.
    I have not mastered any of this at all, but would just love to encourage all authors to not fear Platform Building. When God planted the desire in you to write words, He also selected where and when you would do this. He knew what else you would need to do in order for His other children to read your words. He will supply whatever needs you have for platform building!

    1. Thanks so much, Stefanie. Congrats on obtaining an agent! That’s a biggie! I hope you find a publisher for your book soon. Btw, I join Michael Hyatt’s Platform U, too – I’ll look for you there. Writing for publication has taken me WAY out of my comfort zone at times, too. But I’m so glad the platform building didn’t scare me away, aren’t you? I’ll launch my first book this spring! And I’m SOOOO excited! Blessings!

      1. Karen,
        Best wishes on your book. I can’t wait to see it! And reading your upcoming blog experiences about the book launch will be mighty helpful! Keeping you in prayer as you’re stretched and you learn☺️

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