Social Media Changes: Building an Online Platform

Social MediaIf you’re planning to be a professional writer, you need what is euphemistically known as a “platform.” Put simply, a platform is a presence on the Internet that can help attract and, more importantly, retain the type of people who might be interested in your works. Most traditional publishers won’t even consider publishing an author that can’t already demonstrate that they have a platform. Today’s publishers want a ready-made audience so that they can reduce their risks.

For writers engaged in indie-publishing, a platform is even more important. The biggest problem an indie-published writer faces is discoverability. People can’t buy your stories unless they can discover that your story exists and find enough information about it to allow them to decide whether they want to purchase it.

Think of your platform as a way to interact with your potential audience. At a minimum, your platform should feature a web site with some information about you and your stories (with links so people can go purchase them). There are numerous components that can be a part of your platform, from general social media sites to content dissemination sites. A few potential components for your platform are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads
  • Wattpad
  • Slideshare.net

Except for your core web site, none of these components are essential, but you should probably include at least some of them. Simply choose the ones that make sense for you.

I’m planning to be what’s known as a hybrid writer. I intend to indie-publish my longer works and seek traditional publication in various professional venues for my short stories. I’m also actively trying to build my platform. Naturally, this web site, with its informative blog entries and free content, is an essential piece of that platform.

Some of you may have noticed that this web site has begun morphing subtly from day to day. That’s because I’ve started adding social media engagement features to the site. These features make it easy for users to recommend blog entries on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (and I’ll be adding more later). In the upper part of the right-hand sidebar, I’ve added links to my most used social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been using Twitter for ages in my alternate life as a software developer, so I created @keenersaurus to be my Twitter presence for my “creative” activities.

The next few media buttons in the sidebar may surprise folks. I’ve got a number of videos that I’ve made available online with YouTube, with plans for many more. The next button is for Slideshare.net, which is where I upload my presentations. By the way, I’m in the Top 2% of contributors on Slideshare, so I’ve got some fairly serious content out there for free. Finally, there’s a link to the site’s RSS feed, for people who’d like to have my blog entries delivered to them via a feed.

These are all important aspects for building my own platform. I’d be pleased if you’d help me build my web presence. In return, I promise to continually challenge myself to produce the best content that I’m capable of. Stick around, there’s good stuff coming down the pike.

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Keenersaurus: My New Twitter Handle for Fiction

I just created a new Twitter account, @keenersaurus, for my speculative fiction. I felt that my fiction warranted a different Twitter handle than my technical alter-ego (you know, the version of me with the day job that actually pays the bills), who tweets about Internet technologies.

I put a couple of tweets out there using @keenersaurus, retweeted a couple of interesting things, and soon found that I had gained my first follower — Gail Carriger, author of the New York Times best-selling Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series. This was pretty cool, so I decided it warranted a plug for her books, which are actually quite good.

Parasol Protectorate Series - By Gail Carriger

For the 5-book Parasol Protectorate series, imagine a steampunk London with vampires, werewolves, dirigibles, tea, and all sorts of nefarious factions plotting mayhem. Mix in Alexia Tarabotti, a spinster with: 1) little hope of ever securing a good marriage, 2) impeccable manners, 3) a trusty and unusual parasol, and 4) a streak of stubbornness destined to land her in all sorts of trouble. The books are good fun. Highly recommended.

Oh yeah, by the way… Would you like to follow me on Twitter at @keenersaurus?


Editorial Note: One of my friends asked me, “Why did you pick keenersaurus for a Twitter handle?” Well, I couldn’t get my name as a Twitter handle. I could have chosen some variation of my name, but that seemed counter-productive. There’d be multiple Twitter handles out there like mine, only slightly different — not good for branding.

I decided that I needed something different for my handle, something that clearly referenced me in some way, but was memorable. A handle that might spark a conversation (like this one, actually).

As a child, I developed a passion for dinosaurs, which I never outgrew (my wife would say it’s because I never grew up). I liked the sound of keenersaurus. I thought it sounded memorable. It also instantly spawned ideas (which I’ll be implementing soon) on how to use it in unique and interesting ways. So that’s why I chose it.

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