Building a Platform

The professionals tell you to build a platform, such as an online presence which includes a Web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc., to market your books or other wares. But what if this does not match who you are?

For example, if you are a Christian, does your online presence display this? Now, you do not need to be overly religious in your work, especially if you want to appeal to a broader audience than just the faith community, but it should promote your values. These principles are determined by you. However, in no way should they stray so far from your worldview no one who knows you recognizes you.

As in politics or other forms, religious people are held to a higher standard. This does not mean you cannot be human. The worst romance I read was a Christian romance. The characters were not believable. If you see someone for the first time, you notice their hair, their manners, their voice pitch, etc. However, in this novel there was none of that.

What you want to do is to show you are human with emotions and a writer who also can develop real characters with heartaches and joys as those you experience and meet in your daily lives.

Portray who you are but also hold back some of you. For example, sharing all your personal woes will not draw an audience. People have enough of their own troubles to constantly hear yours. What you can do, however, is reveal some of you.

Those who know me or read my book, Seasons of the Soul. Also, know I am the mother of two different autistic sons. Stories about the boys are in my book. This is highlighted on my Web site and occasionally posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Brad, my low-functioning, oldest nonverbal son, turns 30 Sept. 7. (For your information, I labored on Labor Day.) I will talk about his birth on my Facebook and Twitter pages next week. Thus I tell you a little bit about my family without exposing everything.

I chose not to state exactly where I live on my Facebook or personal site. For example, my Facebook page says I live in the Midwest. Why? I want to get to know you, but I also do not want to become so familiar to you that you look me up and come to my house. If you, however, feel comfortable stating your location, then list it. One reason I did not want to do this is because I am easy to find. My town is small. If, though, I lived in Denver, I probably would not had a problem with it.

Whatever you do be authentic. I love literature, symbolism and heartwarming stories. A little of this flavor comes into my award-winning short story, “The Silver Lining.” This is posted on my Web site:, I wanted to showcase this literary story, but then again I did not want to display too much of this part of me.

Right now, I am wresting with a series of suggested titles for my soon-to-be released, historical romance. The protagonist, nicknamed Red, keeps a secret from his bride/wife which leads to dire consequences. My concept editor and others suggested these titles:  A Hidden Love, Seizing Love, Her Groom’s Secret, The Groom’s Secret, Her Groom’s Secret, His Secret, Always my Love, A Thorn in the Roses and Bittersweet Blessings. What peaks your interest and from what you know about me reflects my values?

To summarize, watch what you portray online and in your work because they need to reflect you. If I had it to do over again, I would have set up two Facebook accounts – one as an author and another as a personal account. This is because at times I would like to separate these two worlds. However, now it would be too difficult to undo what took me a couple of years to establish. Try to think ahead when developing your Web site presence by answering this question:  Who am I?

I know who I am. I love my country, my family, my writing, my walks with my dear friend, my high school chums, interacting with people and standing firm for my God who gave His all for me.

6 thoughts on “Building a Platform

  1. Rose Gordon August 30, 2011 / 10:34 pm

    I think you’ve hit on something that is really hard for everyone at some point. Building a platform is something we’re all told to do, but most–myself included–struggle with it, especially when first starting out. And yet, the answer is so easy. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Consequently, without doing it intentionally, I’ve followed so many of your suggestions and I certainly agree that when writing and/or presenting oneself or their work to the world the most important thing is to remember to let it reflect you. Though I don’t openly advertise it on my website (or anywhere else for that matter) I’m a Christian and my books reflect it. By no means could they be considered a Christian romance due to something they contain that Christian romance usually do not, and vice versa, there is no Bible quotes nor praying for direction. Instead I keep it simple and honest by writing the characters to display the morals I have, and some people have picked up on this and have written to ask me about it.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I just wanted to say I think this was an excellent post!

  2. David Knight August 31, 2011 / 5:33 pm

    Brill post Janet….honest, heartfelt and endearing. Thanks for sharing….God bless and good luck with your writing. Dave AscensionForYou

  3. Ruth Ann Nordin September 1, 2011 / 2:33 am

    I find the best books I write are those that are a part of who I am at my core. I don’t know if we can truly write against our core values and beliefs.

    Loved the post!

    • Ruth Ann Nordin September 1, 2011 / 2:34 am

      I should add, that I don’t see how we can write opposed to our core values and beliefs and love what we’ve written, if that makes sense.

  4. Sharon Gibson September 1, 2011 / 2:47 am

    Thank you Jan, this is great insight! I like your caution and encouragement to use discernment in what you share. “Understanding will guard you and discernment will protect you.”

    Keep up the good writing and sharing of wisdom!

    Sharon Gibson

  5. DM September 2, 2011 / 10:57 pm

    This is all so true. Sometimes we spread ourselves all over the internet and then have no time for writing. But today webpages, facebook, twitter are just about ‘musts’ for writers to be known. Good blog.

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