By Andrea Merrell
Do you ever feel like a lone duck—swimming around with no one to help you succeed?
That’s exactly where I was a few years ago. God placed a passion in my heart and gave me words to share, but I was clueless. I had no idea how to format a manuscript, what to do with it when I was finished, or anyone in the writing and publishing industry to turn to for help. Maybe I thought God would send an angel to my door one day and he would say, “We heard you’ve written a best-seller and we’d like to publish it.”
Not so. No angel—well, at least not one who came knocking on my door. My encounter came through a business card that just happened to fall into my hands. I made the phone call and received the best advice I’ve ever received as a writer: "Join a critique group, go to writers’ conferences, and network, network, network."
And so my journey began.
One of the first things I learned was the importance of establishing a platform. When you submit your work to an agent, editor, or publisher, this is one of the important elements they look for. That’s why networking is invaluable.
So how do you build a platform?
- Start by attending a writers’ conference or workshop. You will meet people from all across the country, from newbies to multi-published authors, to agents, editors, and publishers. Exchange business cards. Follow up with them after the conference and establish a relationship.
- Be active on social media. For some of you, that seems overwhelming. It was for me. It took me a while to master Twitter, but in a few short months, I went from thirty followers to over 800, just by making it a daily habit.
- Learn to use Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google +, or whatever venue you choose. Social media will connect you with people you would never know any other way. Follow people you know, and those you don’t. Be quick to share in someone’s success and promote them whenever possible. Some people use a five-to-one rule: for every five posts, four are about others and only one about your book, blog, quote, etc. This is where we can apply the principle of sowing and reaping.
- Visit blogs that have valuable content and follow them. Sign up for their daily, weekly, or monthly posts and newsletters. Leave comments and get involved. There is so much wisdom and knowledge we can gain from each other.
- Start your own blog and keep it updated. Invite others to share guest posts that your readers will enjoy and benefit from. Be quick to respond when someone invites you to be a guest on their blog. (As a side note, be sure your blog or website has enough information without overkill. I visited a website recently and searched the site for the author’s name or photo. Nothing. The site had a title, but no information about the author—no social media buttons, no contact info, no nothing. I could not interact with a person because they remained invisible. People want to connect with a person—not just a blog or website full of information.)
- Remember ... platform is not just about numbers; it's about people and relationships.
- Stay current with what’s going on in the industry.
You never know when God will give you a kingdom connection, and you never know how it might come. He may surprise you with those He chooses to pour into your life and help you move forward. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.
Whatever you do, be ready. When you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.
(Photos courtesy of zazzle.com and pacrimadvisory.com.)