How Can You Get Published If You Don’t Have a Platform?

I received an email yesterday from a young lady who wanted to write a book. She complained that neither publishers nor agents would give her a chance. According to her, their main objection was that she didn’t have a platform. “How can I get a platform,” she wrote, “if no one will publish me?”

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Sean_Warren, Image #7152512

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Sean_Warren

Frankly, I get this question a lot. The answer is simpler than you think: build one. It’s never been more possible. For the first time in history, perhaps, you don’t need a lot of money or even the right connections. What you need is something to say, a fair amount of determination, and persistence. But it is possible.

By “platform” most publishers mean the ability to influence an audience that is large enough to make publishing a book less of a risk. Just a few years ago, this meant you had to have a television or radio show or write a regular magazine or newspaper column. This typically required a lot of money or important contacts.

But today, by starting a blog and making use of social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, you can build a big platform with little more that the investment of your creativity and time. I’m not saying it is easy, but I am saying it is within reach. (By the way, I consider my blog to be my “homebase” and Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, etc., to be “outposts.”)

Therefore, if you are thinking about writing a book, and if you don’t already have a large media platform, I would strongly urge you to start blogging. Why? I can think of four reasons:

  1. It will hone your writing skills. The truth is, that if you can’t muster the discipline to blog consistently, you won’t have the discipline to write a book either. In addition, blogging enables you to “find your voice,” one post at a time. The more you write, the better you will get. There’s no substitute for practice—and lots of it.
  2. It will provide near-instant feedback. The problem with writing a book is that it is a long process. You won’t get much feedback along the way. And you won’t really discover if you have hit the bulls eye, so to speak, until after you have invested a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears. With blogging, you get almost instant feedback, particularly if you encourage comments. This will give you a tremendous boost to stay with the process and keep writing.
  3. It will enable you to build a tribe. If your writing is good, and if it connects with people, then they will begin to tell others. Whether they mention your blog in casual conversation or Twitter a link to a post that was meaningful to them, you will start to attract readers. This will be slow at first, but you must persevere. Like almost everything in life, it’s difficult to overcome inertia and get the flywheel turning. But once you do, the growth will come more quickly.
  4. It will eventually get an agent or publisher’s attention. Once you are getting 500–1,000 unique visitors a day, you suddenly have a platform that can be leveraged into a book deal. In order to track this, I would strongly urge to sign up with Google Analytics. This will provide you with a verifiable way to prove to an agent or a publisher that you have the traffic you claim to have.

Obviously, you can blame agents, publishers, the industry, or even the economy for why you can’t seem to get published. Or, you can roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Question: What’s keeping you from blogging consistently? What can you do today to get back on track?
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  • Davke

    Michael this is excellent :)
    Thanks..haha well for those who write.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/misternifty misternifty

    Great post! There are also plenty of ways to self-publish a book if you don't have a documented platform. There are online venues to get a book in your hand and share it with friends and family to start. It's just a beginning before getting a book deal from a major publisher later. Building a following means that every visitor to your blog is a victory. It's building one brick at a time and one day you wake up and you've got influence with a large group of people.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely! Self-publishing has never been easier. And it no longer has the stigma attached to it that it once did. It is worth considering.

  • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com Daniel Decker

    Great post. Glad you also linked to TRIBES by Seth Godin as that is a great practical example of how anyone can build influence. They key is creating influence to actually influence, not just for the sake of creating a "platform." There is a difference.

    I work with authors helping them create platforms or expand their existing platforms. The biggest issue I see (from new authors or those with little or no "platform") is the gap in time and expectation. Many new authors don't think about building the platform until they are ready to get published. They are writers, not marketers. Then they have a sense of urgency and become frustrated by the amount of time and energy it takes to build a genuine platform. Add that to the fact that many just don't know how to really build a platform properly. Many confuse self promotion with platform building.

    Money (hiring someone to help and putting certain tactics in play) can help expedite the process but money is not always required. Good old sweat equity works wonders! :) Many overnight successes are 5, 10, 20 years in the making.

    • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com Daniel Decker

      Let me add, you can also build a platform based off an initiative around your book/ ideas and not just your writing itself or you. Depending on your topic, the platform can grow from the WHY behind it. My wife and I started a fun idea called http://www.GiftofKindness.com a few short years ago "website is being upgraded btw…". We sent out free kindness and thank you cards. Sites gets a ton of traffic and has over 1000 people requesting cards each week from all over the world. Purpose to push intentional acts of kindness. We didn't start it to build a platform. We started it to help teach our kids to make a difference and inspire others to do the same locally in our community. It grew on its own to an international level. Now it's a platform. With very little effort and a not so great website, it has traffic, a TRIBE and over 15,000 subscribers to its newsletter. Just an example with little effort. Another great example of this mentality is Andy Andrews "Noticer Project." http://www.thenoticerproject.com

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Daniel, you are exactly right. Would-be authors often get it exactly backwards. Instead, they should start blogging and build their platform first.

  • http://www.josephmcole.com Joseph Cole

    Thank you for the encouragement! I started blogging this year largely due to your persistent influence. I've already noticed a shift in my thinking concerning writing. I now write with an audience in mind, and not merely for personal satisfaction, which I've found to be more rewarding. The posts I place come after careful consideration of whether my readers will want to read it. I believe that this is a lesson that will be invaluable to me and a publisher when my dreams of writing novels becomes realized.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This is a great point, Joseph. If I had thought of it, I would have added it as an additional benefit to my list. The more you can write to specific people, the more compelling and relevant your writing will be. (That's one of the reasons I did my recent 2009 Reader Survey.)

  • http://www.jointheanthem.com Matt Larson

    Michael, do you think its possible that ideas will create their own platform? In other words, should people take the idea they have for a book and generate a following out of that particular idea rather than marketing their personality? It seems, especially in the Christian world, that an idea can often take on a life of its own.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think this is definitely possible. I think personalities, themes, and single ideas can all work.

  • http://amysorrells.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/you-rock/ Amy Sorrells

    Good morning, Mr. Hyatt,
    Evidently WordPress and Google Analytics don't have a way to interface at this time (after searching multiple help sites, including Google and Worpress). Someone please chime in and correct me if I'm wrong. In the meantime, WordPress itself provides a lot of unique visitor stats, and I'm wondering if that is sufficient for platform-building . . . particularly if I have a lot of other ways I'm working on my platform, including speaking, local, regional and national magazine and news publications, speaker's bureau memberships, etc.? Thanks, Mr. Hyatt, for being so willing to take your time and share this kind of information and help those of us who are new to the publishing scene. It really means a lot . . . particularly when I'd rather be writing. :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/PattiM PattiM

      If your WP blog is on your own hosting, have a look for a Google Analytics plugin. You'll need to put the code from the Google Analytics site into the plugin so the two talk to each other. Once you find the plugin, you can explore from there what to do.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, Google analytics is already built into hosted WordPress blogs. See this article on the WordPress site. You don't need anything else, other than your WordPress stats.

      Thanks also for your kind words.

  • http://glynpope.blogspot.com/ Glyn Pope

    Very useful. thank you.

  • http://www.juliegillies.com Julie Gillies

    Excellent advice. I'm already blogging, Facebooking and Twittering, but you're right: building a platform requires determination and old-fashioned hard work. That, and God's help. Thanks, Michael for this encouraging post.

  • http://www.marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    Brilliant. From my experience so far, your advice is dead-on.

  • http://nlpg.com Robert Parrish

    There IS no easy workaround, is there? Good advice, Michael, to blog first and then write. Thank you for ALL your sharing, from tech tips to social media to the business of writing and publishing. Yours is a MUST-READ blog.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Robert. There are definitely things you can do to shorten the process, but it still takes hard work. And, of course, you have to balance this with actually writing.

      Hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. ;-)

  • http://wwwpenandpalette-susancushman.blogspot.com/ Susan Cushman

    Good wisdom, as usual, Michael. I started blogging almost 2 years ago as pre-marketing for my book-in-progress. My hit counter is now showing over 100 hits/day, but no where close to 500. So, until that number grows, I probably don't need a more detailed analysis of the hits, do I? I use Twitter to link back to the blog a couple of times a day using different key phrases. I think the only problem with all the platform-building activity is that it can suck away my time and creative energy for my serious writing, if I'm not careful. It's addictive, all the feedback and buzz.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, the stats provided by your blogging service should be okay.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Susan, a "hit" is an irrelevant metric. The number you are looking for is unique visitors. Sometimes people use the two synonymously, but they are very different.

    100 visitors is very good. You just have to hang in there and keep posting and engaging your audience. Assuming you have good content that is relevant, you will eventually hit critical mass and grow much faster.

    I don't know what you are sing to analyze your stats. If your blog gives you unique visitors than that is probably sufficient.

  • http://lynnrush.wordpress.com/ LynnRush

    Great post. It's so true about blogging/twitter/facebook. Working them all together can really help.

    Heck, I've even had one of my characters from one of my books "host" my blog for a week. It was great fun, and it had an awesome response.

    Oh, and WordPress has it's own counter. If you go to dashboard, click stats. It has awesome informations. Tells you where people clicked to your site from, how many hits, etc. It's great!

    So, write on! :-)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, the WordPress stats are great. They are also sufficient to show to a publisher.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Wayne_C_Allen Wayne_C_Allen

    I've had a site since 1998, and a back list of 7 years of e-zines, and 3 with my blog. My books have been moderately successful by Canadian standards, and one is used as a textbook for "baby therapists." In all of that, my daily hit count is 100-200 and my blog subscribers hovers around 500.
    The take-away? I'm a good writer and am not very good at marketing – platform building.
    I'm finally admitting that.
    And starting to look for the right person to work with on the platform side.
    Because everything has both a benefit and a cost.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It's really important to focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That has made ALL the difference for my site.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Interesting post Mike.

    Do you think that building an online following works across all genres?

    I can see how writing a blog relating to a non-fiction book would be useful and I can even see how maybe creating a popular blog for sci-fi fanatics would be useful when writing your own sci-fi/fantasy novel but does it work for other kinds of fiction?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's a great question. Honestly, I am not sure. Perhaps some of the fiction writers who read my blog will chime in.

    • http://wwwpenandpalette-susancushman.blogspot.com/ Susan Cushman

      Successful fiction writer, Joshilyn Jackson, is the person who encouraged me to start a blog as pre-marketing for a book I hope to publish. She taught a class on marketing your books, saying that once your book goes to press you should also have a web site in place. She has a huge following on her blog, as does fiction writer Haven Kimmel, so I think the "platform" thing is important in all genres. They are both also very generous with their time in helping fledgling writers get started. What goes around comes around.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

        Thanks Susan, and thank you for taking the time to respond to me personally via email also.

        I very much appreciate your time and assistance.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

      Intense debate tells me there are two replies to this but I can only see the one from Michael. What does the other say? Can anyone see it?

  • http://www.emergingintofaith.com Dr. David Frisbie

    This is helpful, practical advice for anyone wanting to get published.

    For nonfiction writers, do you speak to audiences regularly? If so, how large are those audiences and how frequently do you speak? Your own speaking dates will be prime book-marketing opportunities. If you can document your speaking activity and the breadth of your audiences, you have a great tool for influencing a publisher's opinion.

    Right now Lisa and I are working with two young adults (19 and 22) who are regularly speaking to high school and youth audiences. This gives them "the power of presence" and makes their projects attractive to publishers.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Your speaking schedule is VERY important. Thanks for pointing that out. It is definitely a platform.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/digitalchiro digitalchiro

    Thank you, Michael, for an excellent post!

    Just like Donald Kendall once said, "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

    It takes a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to land a book deal. And, what better way to establish yourself than through a blog. Many entrepreneurs have utilized blogging as the platform that propelled them forward toward meeting their business goals.

    I applaud your sound advice and simple-to-follow steps to success. I just hope that the individual that emailed you will learn from your wisdom and apply it within her own set of circumstances.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I hope she will, too. Regardless, her question was really a good one that applies to so many writers—and, as you pointed out, business people.

  • http://www.richdixon.net Rich Dixon

    I agree! There's no point to blaming, and every "overnight success" is usually preceeded by months and years of hard, invisible work. I self-published my book (RELENTLESS GRACE–http://www.relentlessgrace.com), I send a newsletter bimonthly to a list that's grown to 800, and I blog 3-4 times per week (http://thoughtsabouthope.wordpress.com). I've also started landing speaking gigs (2-3 per month).

    A small audience is slowly growing, and the feedback is rewarding. If the process leads to something bigger, great. If not, I'm still telling my story.

    Coaches will tell you of the danger in becoming results-oriented. If you concentrate on quality processes, good things will happen.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Rich, this is a great example of exactly what I am talking about. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • http://teawithtiffany.com Tiffany Stuart

    Again, helpful.. Thank you!

  • http://www.maclakeonline.com Mac Lake

    Once again you encourage me to keep going. Thanks!!

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Mike, I read a different post of yours awhile ago recommending Google Analytics. I checked it out then but didn't act.

    Well, you finally got me to do it. Yes, it was a hassle to modify my blog and website to work with it, but I think their will be a lot of benefits. Yes, my blog gives me stats. Yes, my website gives me stats. But Analytics looks second to none.

    Thanks for the encouragement to implement it.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think you'll really benefit from it, Robert. It's been hugely helpful to me.

  • http://reflectionsbykrista.blogspot.com Krista

    Wonderful advice! Thank you! I'm already blogging, should probably do so more frequently, but I try to post at least 3 times a week. Things I want to do to improve? I'd love to get on a schedule, and learn to preplan my blogs a bit so I'm not doing the whole, "Hmmm, what should I blog about today, I wonder?" Time is my biggest frustration though. My writing time is limited and precious to me, I'm constantly struggling to learn how to spend it wisely.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think three times a week is excellent. That already puts you in an elite group. I find that my intention to blog puts me in a constant state of being aware of the stuff that is happening to me and around me.

  • http://www.kenwords.com Ken Summerlin

    A good example of how a successful blog creates a platform that makes a new author attractive to a publisher is Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like blog. His book by the same title will be published by Zondervan next year.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Jon's blog is one of my favorites. I am just sorry we didn't jump on it before our friends at Zondervan. Regardless, I think he has built quite a following.

  • http://billycoffey.blogspot.com Billy Coffey

    The writer's platform is something I fought for a long time. It just seemed too big and scary. But then I began blogging on the advice of an editor, and I couldn't believe the doors that began opening. You're right, it does get a little lonely at first, especially when your only readers are your spouse and your mother. But put your work in, and people will find you.

    • http://amysorrells.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/you-rock/ Amy Sorrells

      Um, yeah, and amen. In just the few hours today I spent on "platform building" via facebook and my blog, I've acquired one of my higher blog visit days, as well as a few dozen members of a facebook group I started today, and in one day. My knees are buckled in gratitude to my God and to folks like Mr. Hyatt and yourself who take the time to encourage and help out naive (but seasoned) writers like myself. Again, I say thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone here on this blog and Christian writers everywhere . . . and the agents and editors who support them. It facinates me that God still chooses to use a book . . . The Book . . . to communicate to us today. It is a privilege to communicate and attempt to use word to communicate for Him this day, too. (Love the spouse and mother part. . . LOL!!!).

  • http://terripatrick.wordpress.com/ terri patrick

    I think your GiftofKindness site is great, thanks for sharing. I love the story of how it started, just as a good example for your kids, and now, what an awesome benefit it is.

  • http://www.mysticmadness.com Personal Growth

    This is just great.
    I spent last evening browsing through your earlier website and this one too. I think the stuff is just great. I have subscribed to RSS.
    Related to this post, It think no matter how the great idea is– it is important how you market it. Its at times hard for people who are unknown because no one would relate to such folks. On other end everyone try to relate to a successful person.
    A requst or suggestion- there are lots of post on this. Can we have an anchor post of yours in this subject.

  • http://carryingdaily.blogspot.com Martin Richardson

    I struggle with sitting down and writing sometimes, my schedule or location conflicts with writing. I've been trying to blog daily but sometimes it just ends up being something small and insignificant. I think the things that are helping me stay consistent is blogging via cell phone(although formatting control is limited) and being able to draft ideas and then go back and further develop them later.

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  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary E. DeMuth

    I would venture to say my online platform (blogs, twitter, facebook) is greater than my offline platform, though I do speak and do media. The critical mass of all that steady, behind the scenes work is finally coming to fruition, though there were many times folks questioned my time use siphoning toward blogging. It was not a waste. As you said, I honed my writing skills while wooing an audience. By God's grace, I now have folks who champion my work–people I've never met in person.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubbasmith bubbasmith

    Michael,

    Thank you so much for being willing to write posts like this. It is so encouraging and at the same time gives us a realistic view of what it will take to accomplish our dreams.

    Thanks for everything you do!

  • http://www.godmessedmeup.blogspot.com Pam Hogeweide

    You totally nailed it. I am a cleaning woman with a high school education but I am a great writer. I took what I had and started a blog. Blogging has contributed more to my writing skills improving than anything else. It is where I have cut my teeth and found my voice before ever having one article published.

    Social networking has connected me to authors and editors whom otherwise I would never have contact with. Like right this moment. It is not lost on me, a cleaning woman you've never heard of, but who can capture the attention of a CEO of a large publishing house (if only for a few seconds) due to the access of the platform from the digital world. I LOVE the internet!

    The future is wide open for me. And it's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

    {i love your blog, michael. you are a digital mentor of mine. i am paying attention. thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise!!!}

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Audrey4j Audrey4j

    Thank you for summarizing all the points that are floating around into clear, understandable words. When the subject first appeared on ACFW and other author resources, the idea was nebulous and hard to comprehend. Today you summarized the important points that I can refer back to when I need them.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RachelleGardner RachelleGardner

    So Mike, Google Analytics says my daily average is 939 visitors to my blog. I don't think that counts my 1000+ subscribers through Google Reader, Feedblitz, and Bloglines. Does that mean I'm ready to publish a book??? :-)

  • http://www.godmessedmeup.blogspot.com Pam Hogeweide

    rachelle, stop showing off!

    :-)

    {but you go girl!}

  • http://www.StephenBlandino.com Stephen Blandino

    Michael, great insight. Thanks for all of the posts on publishing, technology, and blogging as well of the helpful links to relevant online tools. Very helpful! Keep 'em coming.

  • James

    Great article, but 500 to 1,000 unique hits a day are unlikely to impress many agents. A reasonably good blog will achieve numbers like that without too much difficulty at all. Multiply by ten and you get the sort of figures that will actually help leverage a book deal. I know that’s not what many people will want to hear, but several thousand unique visitors a day are what aspiring novelists need to be aiming for with their blogs. .

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/nicolenwick nicolenwick

    Very helpful information. I started blogging a few weeks ago and love it ( http://nicolenwick.wordpress.com ). It's exciting to see my blog mentioned and to watch my followers grow. Plus, it is certainly developing the type of discipline I need to further any future writing projects.

    Tip for new bloggers: carefully research host sites before you start. I began blogging on iWeb and had to change to WordPress for technical problems. Unfortunately, I had to start tracking readers all over again. I which I had started with WordPress in the beginning.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • http://www.chattykelly.blogspot.com Kelly Combs

    This was a great post, and I have to say that I enjoyed the comments too. Great writing, and a great group of people following you. All of us united in the same goal. Pretty neat, actually.

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  • http://forrestlongart.com Forrest Long

    Great advice. When I had my first book published I knew none of this and although the book sold ok in its genre, it could have done much better. Now I have one book ready for publication and two more on the way, but I am taking my time and focusing on building a platform. Things are different today and writers need to keep on top. Thanks. Always enjoy your posts.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SwitchingGranny SwitchingGranny

    Wow This blog post has to be the most concise, articulate and comprehensive answer to this question that I can imagine.

    So True!

    So Exciting!

    And how ultimately encouraging this is Michael

    Thank-You

  • http://www.awomansview.typepad.com Lenore Buth

    Great post, Michael, and helpful comments, too. Thanks, everyone.

    Question: Does a blog help with platform-building when it's more generalized?

    I've published and I'm presently working on a book for moms. My blog subject matter ranges wider than just mothering and rearing children. Does that mean it's irrelevant? Must I start another blog?

    One author I know started a blog with the same title as the book she is working on. Is that a good thing or not?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think it needs to be personal to you and to your interests. Mine is that way. Building your personal brand is important because, over time, that's what you want people to connect with . Then, no matter what you publish (within reason), your audience will read.

      I think a blog with the same title as a book is too narrow. It will only have relevanance as long as the book is relevant. Instead, I would probably create a category that is the title and perhaps put a separate tab on my navigation with that title.

      I hope this helps.

      • http://www.awomansview.typepad.com Lenore Buth

        Thanks, Michael. That's the tone I picked up from yours–and have enjoyed for a long time. I like the variety. I appreciate what you said and it rings true with me.

  • http://www.amyeslater.com Amy Slater

    Again…timely and encouraging advice – thank you!

  • http://heypcs.com Norman DeArmond

    I have been writing on a website with now hundreds of articles called heypcs.com . The first 25 chapters of my now 33 chapter finished book are there, not as well edited as the final manuscript.
    But I don't have the visitorship or any way people can comment or feedback or network. I guess I narrived in the stone age part of what to me is the space age. I guess I'll have to learn to face the book, fill my space, twitter and tweet, figure out how to Link in and meet Plaxo whose brother Plato is a character in my new book.

  • http://www.theheartofwriting.blogspot.com Cynthia (cswriter59)

    Another great post, Michael.
    You are so helpful.
    Thank you!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks. You are welcome!

  • http://writingtodistraction.blogspot.com Carla Gade

    Excellent post, Mike. I've been building my platform on line for about 3 years. Now I need to polish up that manuscript!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/apostleron apostleron

    This makes a lot of sense. Besides, blaming others for not achieving our dreams will only serve to keep us away from discovering the problem and realizing a solution. Most often the thing we need to do most in life and or writing is to persist and persevere.

    I am a firm believer in purpose. As we find our voice our platform will materialize. The main thing is to write about what we are passionate about. Passion is the soul's recognition of God's gifts. Finding our passion will lead us to our purpose. In other words, become purpose driven!

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  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Last summer I surrendered and began a twitter account. My biggest problem was what to post at 140 characters or less, and that was when I read your blog as well as a blog in Christianity Today regarding leadership. In 140 characters or less I can show people I care and maybe shine Jesus' light into that secular world. Where once I began a blog and Facebook and Twitter to build a platform, now I have multiple motivations to do this. I am encouraged by the responses and the people who choose to follow me. It is now fun and not a job in order to have an online presence when my book is ready to send to publishers/agents.

  • http://Thinke.org Matt Brown

    I am absolutely loving your blog and tweets. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to pour your wisdom into people like me : )
    Matt

  • Frustrated writer

    I have a solid platform of at least two-thousand, on fan created blogs. I even have a Wiki-page, but still I can't get published. Is it because the trend for books and the agency fields are Female-Liberal dominated? Am I being held back because I am a Male with conservative views in my writing?

    Solid Query Letter–Check

    Refined Manuscript–Check

    Platform–Check

    Now what?

    • Stephen Hill

      I am having this same problem. I have a platform and a well ironed manuscript, but I feel because my manuscript leans right I am being rejected. I would also like some input on this.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I doubt it. See above. On average, I think conservatives have a better chance of getting published than liberals. Please see my comment above.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You mean like former President George W. Bush, #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list as I write this, or Sarah Palin at #2, or Glenn Beck at #7?

      Seriously, I don’t think it makes any difference whether you are conservative or male. Liberal females might have the same complaint.

      Two thousand is not a big platform. I don’t intend to be cruel. It is a start. But a commercial publisher will be looking for way more than that. I would say you need a minimum of 10,000 unique visitors a month. The good news is that you have something to build on.

      I would suggest that you read my post, “So You Can’t Seem to Land an Agent.” It contains my best advice for someone in your situation.

      Thanks.

  • http://www.thedefaultlife.com SammcL

    Learned this lesson when I met with IVP in June… been steadily blogging since then. Wish there was a quick fix solution to get 1000 views a day… you know, besides inserting ‘lindsay lohan celebrity rumors’ into your tags. Is that cheating?
    ps. Mike, if you have a sec, check out my latest blog post on Atheists vs Christmas. If you don’t laugh, I’ll…. do better next time!

    http://thedefaultlife.com/popculture/can-busses-be-atheists/

  • Nicole

    I was challenged on this same thing at a writer’s conference I went to recently. I had stopped blogging over a year ago because it didn’t have much direction. Now I have a more focused idea in mind, but there seems to be so much to do before I can start again! I use Facebook and Twitter regularly, and have run the idea off friends for encouragement. There seems to be some interest in my topic, so – Lord willing – I will try to start again in January.

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  • http://thoughtbythought.net/ Tresha Thorsen

    really practical sound nuggets here. thank you. stuff one knows and yet you helped echo the ‘why’ today when i needed that reminder. high five. ;)

  • http://thoughtbythought.net/ Tresha Thorsen

    really practical sound nuggets here. thank you. stuff one knows and yet you helped echo the ‘why’ today when i needed that reminder. high five. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/lkblackburne Livia Blackburne

    Platform is good, but it has to be carefully done.  I actually think a lot of fiction writers are wasting their time by blogging without a purpose or blogging only for writers.  I blogged about that recently

    http://blog.liviablackburne.com/2011/07/author-blogging-youre-doing-it-wrong_21.html

  • http://ivettealegria.wordpress.com/ Ivette

    Brilliant, practical advice that I need to put into action. Thanks!

  • adela tamayo

    I like this blog. I just found it the other day becasue I was looking for litrary agents that work with christian authors. I working on a book called confession of imperfect sinner. It my journey of walking with Jesus. I also started a blog but the book is only half way done.
     Here is my blog if you want to check it out http://adelaslove.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Schultes/500073783 Bruce Schultes

    I wonder about the ideas less traveled for which there is not a ready categorized set of readers.  Seems like a short pointed message – a voice in the wilderness – would never make it in today’s marketplace.  Like Solomon said.  Too many books.  Who can even read all the titles with over 2000 being published every day.  If God’s words are like gold and  mans words like straw – finding the golden needle in this haystack seems impossible.  Is it an industry for the profound or the profane?  Is it an industry to promote God or bury him in an unending stream of dusty utterance?  What makes us so wise?  God stopped at 66.  I want to write a book but I feel I am casting a poor echo into a churning sea of voices and to what effect?

    http://markthearrow.blogspot.com/search/label/Testimony

    I would write a book, but all I ever felt authorized to write, commanded to write, fit on four pages.  I blog, but my rants can’t touch what He has already said and who am I that I should elect myself to be a fomentation.  Testify.  And the occasional love poem.  I do not want to be a lamp shade and obscure the more pure light of His original 66.  I am an arrow that can do nothing but point to the target, point to the word. For this, I need few words.

    That, for me, is the hard part.  Finding the authorization to say anything beyond my simple testimony, to say anything beyond the four pages I wrote in 2006.

  • Dr. Stalworth

    Dr. Stalworth

    Hi Mike,

    Yes, its evident that you are a brilliant man.  I’m going to get started on creating a ‘Platform.’  The one question I have is “How do I start a blog like this one.”

    I am already with facebook, but I need to also join twitter.

    Thanks for the info Mike. 

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Finding topics is the thing that keeps me from blogging consistantly. And I also have been writing around 400-600 words. I don’t think I can keep up with that pace. Perhaps I need to do much less to keep it consistent.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Daren,
      I am with you 100%. I think the biggest challeng in blogging is trying to find daily content that is compelling. However, I will say that after you push through it, it ends up being one of the biggest blessings as well.

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        I think most people have the life experience to write on most articles of content. I think someone should write the blog post with a list of articles to write on. Perhaps it shall be……

  • http://delightfulrepast.com/ Jean | Delightful Repast

    Thank you, Michael, for this information. Looks like I’m closer to having a “platform” than I thought — about 2/3 there! Is it too soon to start looking for an agent? 

  • Cy Bishop

    Coming into the game a little late here, but I do appreciate the advice. I’m feeling a little lost, however. I understand completely how a blog will help a non-fiction  writer – it would prove he/she is knowledgeable in that field, has interesting things to say about the topic, and can maintain an audience. But what about fiction writers? I’m not even sure what the topic/aim/point of a blog would be for me. Maybe I’m just jaded because the only blogs that have ever interested me are humor ones like Cake Wrecks, or because I’ve seen far too many blogs that amount to “My cat just puked in my shoes LOL”… But I just don’t understand what an unknown, aspiring fiction writer would write about in a blog that would create a platform for later publishing.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I agree that writers need to build platforms.  I spent most of my spring and summer putting 3-5 hours per day working on my platform for my first book “A Train Called Forgiveness.”  Even after spending that much time, there are still dozens of things I have not had the time to do.  I also do not have top-notch technical abilities for gaining more traffic to my blog, danerickson.net, and I don’t have the finances to hire those skills out.   I’m a single dad of a seven year old and traveling for lectures and book signings is near impossible for me.  On Facebook and Twitter, I felt like I was being an overbearing self-promoter even though I was probably promoting less than most.  After five months I’ve sold less than 1oo books.  My personal health and spiritual life was suffering because of the time I was putting into building a platform.  I had little time to continue writing my second, “At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy,” and now third book, “The Track to Redemption.”  Blogging became a burden instead of a joy.  Now, as a teacher, I have to go back to work in a couple of weeks.  Therefore, I have decided that my platform is going to have to be built much slower, with less intensity and stress involved.  I’m considering moving toward using more traditional methods of agents and publishing, but as your recent messenger mentioned, that can be a hard road, too.  

    However, all this said, I will continue to write, promote, sell, and even give books away if I have to.  Why?  Because I believe my message about childhood abuse, religious abuse, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption is a healing message and I’ve already received feedback from several individuals how my book has helped them in their own journey in forgiving others.

    So from my perspective, creating a platform is not an easy thing to do, especially for those of us that have a plethora of other responsibilities.  I’m continuing my blog, although less frequently, and continuing my Facebook fan page for “A Train Called Forgiveness,” but I really don’t have the time to tweet repeatedly to get very little response.  I’ll just take it a day at a time and not push.  Humans push, nature and faith pull.

  • Chickwitbrains

    What if you want to write fiction? How do you use blog, Twitter, etc. to build a platform for that?

  • http://twitter.com/scgandhi Sunil Gandhi

    Keeping me inconsistent;  

    1) Topic Idea  

    Any help here? 

  • Ash Wakeman

    I don’t get how, if you work a full time job unrelated to writing and have other responsibilities, you are supposed to find time to not only write your book or short stories collection or whatever, but ALSO blog regularly enough to maintain a strong readership. Really. Knowing this makes getting published all the more daunting. I have been working regularly on pieces that I expected to submit to publications, but I seriously do not have time to completely maintain and bolster my blog as well.

    Anyone else with this frustration?