How You Can Help to Build a Writer’s PlatformPosted: March 3, 2016
Everything I’ve ever done in life, I’ve done my own way, usually depending on myself and no one else. One thing anyone who knows me can tell you is I’m persistent. When I set out to achieve something, I don’t stop until I do. It has been no different with writing. But I’m discovering that I need a little help with this endeavor.
I had an unpleasant experience with a student teacher in the English department as an undergrad, so just when I was beginning to learn that I liked writing and maybe English should be my major, I was soured on the whole idea by the feeling that the field was too subjective for me, and I chose to major in psychology instead.
But after I’d been out of college for a few years, I discovered not only that I had a love for the written word, but also that I had some talent for it. I started out writing poetry, which I’ve since learned, is not my strong suit, but even there, I don’t do too bad. I sold my first poem to Dusk & Dawn Magazine in 1996 for $5. Problem was, that didn’t even cover all the postage I had spent submitting, and I couldn’t afford to play the starving artist. I had a family to help support. There were others to consider. So, writing went onto a back burner, just simmering for about twelve years.
Then, I discovered the Internet and rediscovered my abilities for writing as new opportunities presented themselves. The rise of the Web actually changed the entire publishing industry over time, opening up all kinds of new opportunities for writers, including, but not limited to, self-publishing, marketing via social media, vanity presses, and content mills. As blogs and websites grew in number, more content was needed than ever before. Problem was, I’m technologically challenged. Slowly, over time, I have learned to use social media to my advantage a little, and I’ve learned to use many of the writing sites and content mills to make minimal amounts of money.
One of the coolest things happened in my writing endeavors didn’t involve any money at all. I had one of my poems featured in a painting by artist Mitch Barrett and displayed and sold at the Kaleidoscope Gallery in Battlesea Park, London. (There’s a lengthy story behind how this came about, which I may relate in a future blog post. Anyone who knows me is surely tired of hearing it.
As a freelancer, I became the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner for Examiner.com, which didn’t really pay, but offered opportunity to meet other writers, get free books for review and obtain credits for my portfolio. I also cranked out articles for other content mills which did pay, at least a little, which added to my skill set, diversifying my writing talents, and I was published in Freeman, which was a bit more profitable.
I thought I was quite fortunate when I was able to obtain a publisher for one of my children’s stories. After seven wasted years, it turned out I was not so fortunate, since my book still wasn’t published. But we learn from experience.
Still struggling to launch my writing career, I discovered the low residency MFA program for Creative Writing offered by Western State and I applied. Maybe I couldn’t do it on my own, but I would learn what I needed to know, one way or another. And I have learned a lot. I’ve learned about my own writing process. When I started at Western, I’d never even thought about it. I’m not even sure I was aware I had a process, but I did and still do. Now I’m just more aware of it. I learned how to craft my words to be pleasing to the ear. I learned how to read aloud in front of an audience, and I’ve learned that I do it well.
Last summer, I completed my emphasis in genre fiction and read from my thesis novel, Playground for the Gods: Book 1: The Great Primordial Battle. I’ve learned how to treat my writing as a business, at least in theory, although I’m still trying to get it off the ground. And I’ve learned how advances and royalties work, and that you have to sell a lot of books before you will ever receive royalties.
And I learned that screenwriting is where the big money is. When I took genre screenwriting for my out of concentration class, I also learned that it was fun, it came pretty easy to me and I was fairly good at it. So, instead of graduating, I stayed in school for another year to get a second emphasis in screenwriting. What I’m learning this year, is that there’s a lot of competition on screenwriting and it’s tough to get a break. You practically have to live in L.A. to get anywhere. Yet, I am determined to make all the money I now owe for my schooling pay off. I haven’t given up yet, and I don’t intend to now.
I’m currently shopping my thesis novel and two of my children’s stories, five short stories, and various poems. I’m also very close to finishing my western novel, Delilah. At Western, thanks to my instructor, Russell Davis drawing us out of our comfort zones, (and maintaining as much discomfort for us as possible), I discovered that I enjoy writing in the western genre, and although it is not one of the bestselling markets, I do it well. And I’m working hard, through this blog and social media, to build a writer’s platform and gain a following to make myself look more appealing to agents and publishers.
Here’s where you, my readers come in, because you can help. Without my readers, my writing just sits there on the page, not doing much of anything. You are my writer’s platform. You are my following.
Many people don’t realize that liking a link on Facebook, while cool, doesn’t really help the author grow their platform unless they actually read the post and subscribe by email. What does help, is if you’ll take the time to read the post here, on my Writing to be Read site, and subscribe to the blog. That’s what shows how large my reader following is, and it does my heart good to watch as it grows.
You can also like the post below it, with all the “share” buttons, but you must have a WordPress account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one, but then, of course, you will have a blog to maintain, so be sure you know what you’re getting into. I’m guessing that many people just like the link on Facebook to show their support, but they don’t actually click on the link and read the post. But, if you leave a comment, I’ll be able to tell that you read it, and if you subscribe, it will show you liked what you read. You’ll make my day.
If you’d like to show even more support, you can buy my short science fiction story, Last Call. If you like it, write a review on Amazon. And, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pintrest. Help an old writer get a break.
Your support is always appreciated. Thank you for being a reader of my work. After all, for me, it’s not really about money. It’s about Writing to be Read.