Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writer's Platform Part II: Public Presence

Last week I started a series on writer’s platform based on a breakout session I presented at a conference. (See this link for last week's article.) One of my resources was The Shy Writer Reborn by C. Hope Clark. I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing lady at two conferences and spoke with her for several minutes at one of them. She is a master at public platform despite the fact she is an extreme introvert (as many of us writers are!) and has successfully built herself a quiet little empire with public appearances, Funds for Writers--a newsletter that helps writers find contests, grants, conferences, etc.--her Facebook network and so much more. For those of you who have the introvert gene in spades, this is a book to help you work past that fear to bolster your public presence.

Because, you see, public presence is a key element of platform that a lot of writers don’t want to deal with. Or they don’t think it’s as important as a web presence. I beg to differ. If you’ve ever been in sales or known anyone in sales they’ll tell you: person to person contact is the BEST way to close a deal, NOT calling, emailing, sending reminder fliers, etc.

My job as an educator has forced me to adopt an extrovert persona. I admit that it is a persona. When I’m in public and I’m “on,” I’m bubbly, friendly, I joke around, I make sure to introduce myself to everyone and make myself stand out in the crowd. “Life of the party” comes to mind. However, after a few hours of that, my “social energy” is depleted and I need some alone time to recharge. It isn’t that I’m not bubbly, friendly, and a punster in private, but I have to work harder to do so when in large groups of people I don’t know or don’t know well. This public persona is necessary for my writer's platform when I teach, when I present workshops, when I attend club meetings, and when I socialize so others see me and get to know me. Remember, writer's platform is a stage you build to stand above the crowd so others easily find you among the myriad of other choices, so when I'm out in public, I'm on stage whether I like it or not!

And as Hope Clark’s book will tell you, this public presence is essential to building your platform strong and steady. You have numerous options including:

  • Teaching classes 
  • Presenting workshops at conferences 
  • Recording radio or TV spots/commercials 
  • Writing for local magazines/newspapers 
  • Writing your own newsletter 
  • Joining local clubs and/or holding leadership positions 
  • Joining writing clubs and/or holding leadership positions 
  • Getting to know more people 
This list isn’t a limit and you shouldn’t try to go out and do all of them THIS WEEK. Goodness! We have lives to live right? Pick one that’s just out of your comfort zone, get that one generally mastered, then start on the next.

Does this work? Yes. And here’s an example.

I’m a member of a runner's club in my area. I meet different groups and run with them. I shop at the locally-owned runner's store. (They are, by the way, much better than the chain stores in every way, shape and fashion, but I am a little biased. When you walk in and EVERY employee knows your name, THAT'S customer service. Or it means I buy too much. But I digress.) During my runs and while I'm socially hanging out with runners, we talk about anything and EVERYTHING including the fact I'm a writer. No topic is taboo. Nothing. It's kinda like Vegas, though. What's discussed (and what happens) on a run stays on the run. And if you're a runner, this will make you smile because you know exactly why.

I hang out at races and cheer on everyone, not just my friends. That's the kind of community we have in this area. As a mid-packer (someone who is faster than the average bear but not someone particularly speedy) and someone who's injury prone, sometimes I'll show up at a race and merely take pictures to post for everyone else.

I'm also a member of the local Facebook page for runners in my area. I post several times a week about running. Sometimes I post silly things, sometimes I post articles, sometimes I mention the fact that I’m a writer. I NEVER try to sell anything because that’s not the point of the page. They would kick me off. But the things I post are intended to fit the brand--the persona--I wish to show the community.

What do I get out of this besides a whole bunch of new friends, a great support group for my running (and my mental stability! LOVE THOSE GUYS AND GALS!), and new shoes every six months? (I swear I pay more for shoes that women with closets full of designer stilettos.)

A few weeks ago I walk into that locally-owned running store to sign up for a race and a TOTAL STRANGER comes up to me and asks, “Are you Janet Cannon the writer?”

I nearly passed out.

Because I am part of the community of runners, I was recognized for my platform. Yes, part of it was from Facebook, but if I hadn’t had that public aspect of hanging out with runners, I don’t think she would have recognized or talked to me.

Public presence is ESSENTIAL to your writer’s platform.

Now your job is to find ways to expand your public presence. You already have something. What can you do to build on it? Are there clubs that fit your interest? Are you an expert at something and can write articles or record a radio or TV interviews? Are you willing and able to share your expertise at a local career center? Are there other ways you can think of to expand your circle of influence?

There are literally thousands of ways you can start putting your name in people’s minds so that when your book is finally published, they’ll see it, think, “I know that person!” and buy it BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU.

People judge a book by its cover and a person by their public persona. Do you need to revise yours?


Next main course on Revision is a Dish Best Served Cold: 
Writer's Platform Part III: Publishing Presence

Also look for my articles on Walrus Publishing’s website. 
Currently: Adverbaholics Anonymous

Like Ghost Stories? I’m published in Rocking Horse Publishing’s