Beginner Tips for Building Your Writer Platform

Ah, the writer platform. Something I didn’t think I needed until someone said to me, “I don’t know who you are, so why should I pick up your work?”. Since then, I’ve been on a mission. Take precious time away from my novel and put it toward making a name for myself.

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Since I’m in the “building your online presence” part in my writer platform journey, most of these tips have to do with social media. There are many other sides to being a writer, so if you’re looking for a more detailed read, I recommend checking out Create Your Writer Platform, by Chuck Sambuchino.

  1. At first you are going to fail.
    • I don’t mean this in a bad way, in fact failure is great! It gives you only one direction to go, up. You’re going to make grammar mistakes, embarrass yourself in online circles, and delete a few posts that you should’ve put more time into. But then eventually the tiny failures will come fewer and farther in between. You’ll start to get little victories, and over time, forget how you failed when you first started.
  2. Know that success doesn’t happen overnight.
    • I hate this. I’m the type of person who likes instant results, damn it! I expect to have some interaction with people online regardless of how long I’ve been here! Sadly, this isn’t the case. No, you don’t get famous overnight, or even put on the radar for that matter. You have to be patient, interactive, and above all, entertaining to your target audience. Just having a social media account doesn’t mean people will line up to follow you.
  3. Key word in “social media” is social.
    • I tried to interact in small doses at first. It didn’t work. Instead, I found actually talking to people helped build my platform in the writing community. Comment on other people’s works, share what you’re reading or working on, or just talk to people in general. You don’t have to jump up and down for attention, but actually being social helps boost your popularity as a writer.
  4. Be real.
    • Don’t follow someone just to get a follow back. When you comment on stuff, try to post more than an emoji. Show people who you are, not just a shadow of yourself. And above all things, do not, do NOT send automatic DMs (direct messages). This is so impersonal, and many people will just unfollow you.
  5. Diversify your platform, while still staying with your target audience.
    • I have an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Deviant Art account. Why? Because that’s where my readers are. I draw my characters, and I have some fans of my sketches, so I post on DA as a way to reach out to other artists. Find out what makes your platform unique and add that to your foundation.
  6. Don’t take all the advice given to you.
    • Hannah Heath wrote a great article about this, and I highly recommend you read it. In a nutshell, don’t take all the advice you get from other writers, especially not when it comes to creating your platform. What works for one writer might not work for you. Try to go at your own pace, and don’t feel like you need to take all the advice out there.
  7. Play games.
    • This is a big one. I didn’t know how to jump in when I first started out online, but hashtag games were a great place to start. I was able to see what other people were working on, and could interact with them on a creative level. There are hashtag games on Twitter that I would definitely check out if you’ve never done them before.
  8. And finally schedule your posts out.
    • I know I already said don’t auto DM, but definitely do get an app that can schedule posts. You’re going to burn yourself out if you try to stay up to date on all your social media. It’s best to save some of it for later, and post things up a little at a time, instead of all at once. Facebook and WordPress has it’s own scheduling system, but I use Hootsuite for things like Twitter and Instagram.

There are other people who have great tips about this, and who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. This is just what I learned as a novice in the writer platform potion of my writing journey. I’m still a beginner, but I hope what I learned over the past year helps you!

What part of your building process are you in? What tips can you give to the people who are just a step under you? Share below and let me know! 

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Learning how to edit

I’ve been working on Flightless since July 2016. I did my own NaNoWriMo, and finished the first draft in a month at close to 100k words.

Over the next year, I cut it back to 85k, submitted it, got rejected multiple times, and finally got some interest after I rewrote my query. Two agents asked for the full manuscript, and one got back to me and said sadly, I needed to refocus and make major changes.

I edited again, taking my time, fixing plot holes they pointed out, and staying up late to figure out how to make my novel more enjoyable. It was a tough lesson in writing, but I learned the importance of a fine tooth comb edit.

I thought I was done, but because I was in the middle of a move, I set Flightless aside and focused my attention on traveling. Then a funny thing happened. I got another idea. It was one of those ideas that should’ve been common sense, but that didn’t hit me till I was reading The Scarlet Gospels.

Make my antagonist more relatable.

I love my antagonist, Abram, but the problem was I loved him for reasons that weren’t in the book. In Flightless, I painted him in two dimensions. He was evil for the sake of being evil, something I can’t stand when other people do it, and that I was ashamed of when I realized my mistake. Here was a character I spent hours developing, crying over his character arch, but then gave him next to nothing when it came time to let him shine.

I’m back at edits again, this time with a few books about editing in hand, and narrowing my focus on my characters. I’m convinced this is my final round, and I hope that now that I’m close to being done, I can have Flightless back in the querying pool soon.

Here’s hoping, cause damn, it’s not the writing that’s hard when it comes to creating a book. It’s the rewriting.

Writing Wednesday – Modern Fantasy World Building Prompts

1This week’s “Writing Wednesday” was inspired by my recent rewatch of “The 10th Kingdom”. It got me thinking of a few fun modern fantasy ideas, and since I’m in a sharing mood, I decided to pass them along to you!

If you see one you like and would like to use, please feel free to. If you come up with some, add them in the comments below, and I’ll put them on the list.

  • City witches who use their mirrored phones, or just blank phone screens, as a scurrying mirrors.
  • Witches under 21 carving new paths of magic, and laughing when their elders are confused at how they made new spells with technology. Alternatively, witches over 50 watching the new generations and shaking their heads, but also are secretly proud of their new students ingenuity.
  • Vampires or orcs who post make up tutorials on YouTube to make themselves look more human.
  • Witches who sell glamore spells at Ulta.
  • Apartments that include “Brownie Clauses”, where tenants have to agree to leave offerings out because they’re the ones who fix anything needing repairs.
  • Necromancers who own law firms that specialize in wills needing to be clarified by the recently deceased.
  • Magic users who can’t have a garden going to Whole Foods for fresh herbs and chatting with others to find what spell works best.
  • Mermaids who live in city lakes and curse anyone who pollutes it. City gets known for having the cleanest park in town because everyone’s too scared to throw trash in it.
  • Benevolent Jinns helping children soldiers and kidnapped women escape their captors.
  • Werewolves who have to play in dog parks because it’s the only place in the city where dogs are allowed off leash.
  • Changelings finding out they’re fairies and staying with their human family and use their new magic to help make their lives easier.
  • Dryad funerals held by city fae when a plot of land is turned into a parking lot.
  • Leprechauns who change with the times and instead of collecting gold, collect bit coins, own credit card companies, and who know how to manipulate the stock market.
  • Fire Salamanders that live in furnaces of major metal manufacturing companies, helping keep core temperatures stable.
  • Yakshas that hold support groups for people struggling with bipolar disorders.
  • Pixies that break or change road signs to get people lost.
  • Ogres who own their own bodyguard business. They protect anyone who’s willing to pay them, so long as they get to eat anyone who attacks their employer.
  • Huldrefolk trolls that make underground houses, only problem is if you’re an annoying client your house will have problems throughout your stay there.
  • Goblins that sit in underground bars, smoking and drinking all while making bets with humans and swindling them out of their money.
  • Gargoyles that have learned the hymns of their churches and sing them at night to the homeless who come seeking shelter.

 

I could go on, but this is getting to be a long list. Let me know if you’d like to see something like this again in the future. I’m sure I could come up with more.

Time to Get Offline

I’ve always hated social media, a fact I talk about often, both on and offline. Talking to strangers on twitter is fun, but it’s kind of impersonal to me, and if I can’t have that personal touch, I’d rather not be touching at all.

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And like the 90’s girl I am, this whole post might sound very “Clueless”. Bare with me.

 

I’m so bad that I even sit around and day dream about living a life like Thomas Harris. What would it be like to be an author who doesn’t bother doing anything with social media, and just lives with his brain monsters (and family of course)? As an unpublished writer it’s very appealing, but I’m not Tom Harris, and none of my characters are nearly as up to par with Hannibal Lector. Instead, I have to focus on building a writer’s platform.

But like all necessary evils in a person’s life, or persevered evils, sometimes it’s good to take a step back from them. I learned this lesson the hard way. I moved to a small Texas town where internet takes forever to get set up.

It’s amazing what a couple weeks without internet did to me. I’m not going to say I’ve had any life changing, soul altering moments, but it’s definitely been great. No pressure to get tweets out every day, or to post up something on instagram, or heaven forbid find something interesting enough to add to facebook. I knew I had an app still making posts on my behalf, but I wasn’t having to try and impress anyone by coming up with new, clever posts.

Instead of building a platform, I took a step back and picked up some books. Not just the quick easy reads I normally read when I needed a mental break from writing, no I dove into everything. I finished Clive Barker’s “The Scarlet Gospels”, Mercedes Lackey’s “Firebird, and even a graphic novel I secretly love. From there, I moved to “Plot Verses Character”, by Jerff Gerke, and tackled a few other non fiction pieces from my husband’s library. It was like finding my writing voice that I had years ago. The more I read, the more I began to feel like myself.

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It wasn’t just books, however. I drew pictures, practiced my digital art, took my dogs for walks, and explored the new city I just moved into. I came to realize that life without internet was great. As much as I know I still need to build a platform, I know that it’s more important not to get so lost in your online life that your offline one suffers.

So here’s my goal for 2018. Get on the internet when I need to, but only jump on social media once a day. If I miss some hashtag games, or lose a few followers, so be it. Being more worried about my follower count than my word count is counter productive for me at this moment in my writing life. While sure, other writers are building a strong social media game, they’re at that point in their walk that they can do that. I still have a long way to go, and can’t compare my journey to their’s.

While I’m at it, I’ll be changing my blog schedule, focusing more on quality vs. quantity of posts. I’m also going to try and build a more conversational tone, since I know I can sound a little dry sometimes. I’ll also try to interact with other bloggers more, to build better relationships with you lovely people who are consistently liking and reading my posts.

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If you’ve ever been in my shoes, and have some tips for finding a better balance, please let me know. I’m definitely open for a critique!

Little Known American Folklore Writers Should Use

Welcome yet again to another Writers’ Wednesday. Time to talk about something I love, American folklore.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know this, but for those of you who are new, the older I get the more I want to know about folklore and fantasy of North America.

From common ghost stories to murderous monsters that lurk in back woods, chances are you’ve probably read a book inspired by the urban legends of North America. If you haven’t read a book, you’ve at the very least seen things on film.

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Here are just a few that came to mind that featured folklore and fantasy of North America

As many as folklore inspired pieces of work as there are out there, there are some that don’t get nearly enough love. Here are some that are definitely neglected and should fuel writers in future novels.

Xunaan & The Young Warrior – Mexico
It’s a story of love and a mother keeping a couple apart. There are so many ways this could be interpreted and reinvented. I’d love for more people to know about this story, and even put a twist in it where Xunaan saves herself.

Black Dog of Hanging Hills – USA
Most people, especially readers, can tell you black dogs are bad omens. Usually monsters and signaling death, the black dog in Hanging Hills Connecticut is smaller than its British Isles cousins and much more relaxed. In fact it has it’s own little saying by New York geologist W.H.C. Pynchon. “If you meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time shall bring death.”

Michigan Dogman & Beast of Bray Road – USA
A sort of twist on the werewolf myth, these American dog monsters are known to scare livestock to death, terrorize locals, and have a man like scream. While werewolves in the Bayou are fairly well known, these two wolf like monsters rarely make an appearance in urban fantasy.

El Muerto – Mexico/USA
I included Mexico because there were a few conflicting stories as far as where this story is more prominent, but it appears to have popped up around south Texas. While everyone is fairly familiar with the Headless Horseman, no one ever mentions El Muerto. El Muerto was once a hispanic man, and after being accused of theft, his head was removed by another folklore legend, “Big Foot” Wallace. Not only was his punishment to have his head removed, but Wallace tied his body to his horse, hung his head and hat from his saddle and let the horse loose on the countryside. When they finally caught the horse, the body had been riddled with bullets and arrows from locals and tribes that saw the body pass. They buried him in an unmarked grave, and he still haunts south Texas to this day, due to how horrendous his punishment had been.

You can tell I really love this story. I could go on about it forever.

 

Folklore Creatures in Groups Worth Mentioning –

Little People of the Cherokee – Cherokee Nation
When I first heard about these, the person who showed me explained them as “American fairies”. The more I read about them, the more I went, WHY don’t more stories feature these incredible little people? Too many stories only rely on the fairies found in Irish/Scottish lore, when really there are a numerous of them across the globe. I’d love to see a book one day where the Cherokee little people just look at the fae from across the ocean and go HA. You think YOU have it bad?

American Witches & Their Curses – Across the United States but mostly the Ozarks
Why does every witch in every urban fantasy do high magic? Why don’t we have more witches who poison livestock, or spoil milk? Heck, you can even make this more modern and say American witches know how to turn gas to water in a car, or who can cut out wifi with a witch bag buried in the person’s back yard. They don’t rely on athames and wands, but roots and bones. Give me gritty witches! Give me more American Folklore witches with old and dark powers who follow their own moral compasses! Give me American witches!

 

Of course, there are thousands more, but these are just a few I have tucked away. Have one you want to add to the list? Comment below, let me know! Want more folklore? Check out Folklore Thursday on Twitter.

Writer on the Road: Help me pick a plot! – Day 5

 

Almost done with my trip! I have one more day left on the road before we reach our destination, so today, I’m going to do a quick run down of plots I was working on while driving. If you see one that you like that you’d like me to elaborate on, please comment below! I’m looking for a plot to turn into a Wattpad project, so I could use some help with picking what sounds the most interesting.

 

  • Hades x Persephone – Romance –  I like the idea that Persephone didn’t get kidnapped, she ran away. That she was already in love with Hades and the two decided to run from Demeter, and Persephone only returned when she saw her mother was going to kill the Earth. I’d love to go into just how Hades and Persephone met and fell in love, and came up with a full novel for this retelling.

  • Medusa – Revenge Plot – I hate the hand Medusa was given. She was raped, turned away by her goddess, and then was killed and used even in her death. I’d like to give Medusa a more fitting end. She asks Athena to turn her into a gorgon to get back at those who wronged her, and kills whoever comes to kill her because she found her power in her pain.

  • Misery in Magic (possible title) – Urban Fantasy – Basically, this is an urban fantasy novel about an arranged marriage between two magic users from high standing families. Unlike the typical “forced wedding” romance plot, this one is more about how they have to work together to over come someone who uses magic to harm humans. It’ll have more of a “slow burn” romantic subplot, and really focuses more on the blurred lines between good and evil.

  • Salvation (possible title) – Supernatural Detective – Out of all the ones I’ve been toying with on my drive, this one is the most under developed. I have a demon. He goes on road trips. He’s got a priest with him that’s damned to hell that’s trying to redeem himself. That’s about it. Maybe it’ll be something like Clive Barker’s work mixed with a bit of Supernatural, but I really like the characters that came to mind while driving, so I’d like to have the in their own story

  • Modern Cinderella – Coffee Shop Romance- Yes. It’s been done. Yes. I know we don’t need another Cinderella story, but I want a story that follows the version where the prince and his friend switch places for the night. And I want it in a modern setting. Call me crazy, but I love this idea, and I think it’d make for a fun quick enjoyable read.

  • Forged in Fire (possible title) – Traveling High Fantasy – This one is one I’ve actually drawn out a character for a while ago, but I’m only just now trying to decide a solid plot. Basically, I have a high fantasy world where a knight is on the run, and comes into contact with a woman who does folk magic. She agrees to help him get his honor back, but for a price. It’d be pretty heavily inspired by Ladyhawk and Willow, since I’m a sucker for 80’s fantasy.
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Here’s the sketch of the knight character, Dawson.
  • Multiple Species High Fantasy – Escape High Fantasy – This one would have a lot more magic and different species compared to the one before it. It’s inspired by the worlds of Dragon Age, Witcher and Lord of the Rings, and would be a little heavier on the world building than the one I mentioned above. Out of all my ideas, this one is my least likely to pick, just because it’s a really big project, but hey, if you think you want to read a heavy high fantasy, let me know.

 

 

Which idea sounds like a fun, no pressure story that you’d like to read for free?

 

Writer on the Road – Day 4

We’re back in civilization tonight and had Whataburger for dinner for the first time in almost 6 months. For those of you who know what that is, you know how fantastic I found my meal after being away from it for so long.

We left Utah today and made it into New Mexico. With only two days of driving left, I spent a lot of time today thinking about writing and what I want for my life. 

When I first started writing, I had no intention of ever being published. I liked to write because it helped me escape from reality but it wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared with my friends, and while they enjoyed it, I never thought I’d one day try to sell my work. 

I kept up the work, even when I didn’t think I’d make it a career, until about three years ago I realized it’s what I want to do with my life. That being said, I’ve never been published. I’m not writing to pay the bills yet, I’m writing still out of passion, so I don’t have to worry yet about the career side of the writing world. 

As I realized this, I had to ask myself, do I really want a career as a writer? Do I want the work as well as the play? Why not just be a hobbiest, why do I want to be recognized as an author?

Being a hobbiest and being a professional are two totally different animals. There’s nothing wrong with either of these, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. 
Everyone has to answer that question to themselves. For me, I decided on day four of my drive that I wanted to be a writer, not because of the romance, but because I like the work. I like the hours bent over a manuscript. I love the feeling of starting a new idea. And as much as I complain, I even enjoy the editing. 

Work isn’t some four letter word to me as so many creative types make it out to be. It’s something I find myself embracing. Writing is as much of a career choice as it is a way to share my love of stories with others, and that’s why I’m perusing a job as a writer.

It was a nice realization and it’s fueling my fire as I keep on writing this November. I love the work that gets put into books, and I can’t wait to jump into the career side.

I don’t know why you write, but please let me be clear. Everyone’s reason is a valid one. If you want a career as a professional writer, you go after it with all the fire you’ve got. Everyone has their drive, tell me yours below and let’s share the love of the job! 

Writer on the Road – Day 3

There’s something about dying desert towns that makes me anxious. I drove through the small town of Green River, Utah tonight. As the sun went down at my back, the moon bleached out the buildings as I looked for my hotel.

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If you ever travel to Green River, you’ll notice one side of the street is lined with gaudy, half working neon lights, the other is long dead and empty. If you go on a full moon, the cold light will make the husks of closed motels and empty gas stations look haunted. \

When I finally made it over the river and looked back at the city behind me, I can’t tell if my imagination is running away with me, or if there really are figures moving on the plateau outlined in the setting sun.

It was unsettling to say the least.

But I learned some very important writing lessons today. One, every place you drive through can be inspiring enough to write a little overly flowery blog post, and two learn how to manage your time.

If you caught last night’s blog post, you’ll know I was having trouble at my last hotel with the wifi, and this night started out exactly the same. I downloaded my files to my phone, and managed to start last night’s words, even if I didn’t meet what I was originally hoping for. The funny thing is, I had net at one point, but thought “I can always finish this later, I want to screw around online right now”. I made plans for a later time, but that later time turned out to be problematic.

So here’s tonight lesson. If you want to write a book, start to notice when you’re wasting time, because you might not get it even if you plan for it. Even if you’re a night writer, if you get an hour in the morning, write in the morning. Worse case scenario, you get a little bit of work done, and you still have that night to write. Best case scenario, you lose that time, and you’re already done.

It should be an easy lesson to learn, but I’m still trying to figure out how to do this sort of thing. Maybe this trip will make it skip this time.

Writer on the Road – Day 2

This is a short one today, but definitely a good lesson.

Don’t rely on wifi while traveling. If a hotel says it has free internet, don’t think “Oh perfect! I can sign in to my online storage, download all my files and get some work done.”

There’s a chance they won’t have working internet and you’ll have to get all that important writing done on your phone.
In other news, 600 words into my NaNoWriMo novel and my protagonist is now a guy, my love interest turned into a strongwilled female lawyer, and my book went from a comedy to more of a fun romance.

Oh November. You’re full of surprises. My original idea will be recycled later, so don’t worry, those of you interested in my “Gilmore Girls meets Good Omens” idea. That one will come along in the same universe but different setting.

Okay all, time for bed. Sorry my post doesn’t have any pretty pictures to go along with today’s mini lesson. Have one of my dogs in the Uhaul instead.

Hope you all had a great writing day! Adios till tomorrow.

Author. Blogger. Traveler.