Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brands and Platforms, Oh My!

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

As a new writer, I hear a lot about establishing my "brand" and my "platform."

No, I am not building anything nor am I working with cattle.

Simply put, my "brand" is who I am, my "voice" as a writer. This blog is part of my brand. Every story I write - mystery, romance, young adult fantasy - is part of my brand. It just sort of happens. Of course, I'm a little confused as to what all of these multiple genres, all of which I've really enjoyed working in and want to continue, say about my brand, but let's let that one go.

So you might think, "well, establishing your brand should be easy." Maybe. See, that's why I've got to be so careful about what I post in places such as this blog, my personal reflection blog at, on Facebook, or Twitter. If I make a political or religious comment, that becomes part of my brand.

That's not necessarily bad - if that's what I want my brand to be. And maybe I don't want my political railings to be part of my brand as an author. So I really have to think twice before clicking "Comment," "Share," "Publish," or "Tweet." Do I want this to be what people think of when they hear my name? Really?

It's not that I can't be me online, I just need to be careful of how much "me" the public sees. Think of it as your boss seeing that picture of you shotgunning beer at a party. Now multiply the number of "bosses" by the number of people in the reading public.

I'm sure you see the problem.

Then there's platform. Honestly, I'm not sure what this one is. But I think the best explanation I've seen is this one by Jane Friedman. My platform is what makes me visible as an author. Publishing something would establish my platform, obviously. But there are other things too.

This blog for example. If I had 500 followers, that means I've got an audience. That's platform-building (for the record, exactly one person follows this blog, so if you're so inclined, add yourself as a follower). I've networked and "met" a fair number of people, including some in the publishing industry (writers and such), on Twitter. They know my name. That's building a platform. Connecting with people via my Facebook author page - platform building. My work with Sisters in Crime - platform building.

So I need to work on my brand, I need to build a platform - and oh, yeah, I need to continue to write so I can do that most important platform-building activity of all GET PUBLISHED.

You can see why some authors resent all this brand and platform stuff. It takes time away from creating.

But that's too bad, because that's what agents and publishers are looking for these days. So help a gal out, why don't you? Follow this blog or pop on over to "like" my author page.

I need all the building help I can get.

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