How Blogging Got Me Out of the Slush Pile

Information on blogging for authorsBlogging for Authors—Lesson #6

For years—as in a lot of years—I tried to land a traditional book publishing deal. No luck. Not that I didn’t get great feedback on my ideas, writing, book titles, and book proposals. I did. Every bit of positive feedback, however, came with that dreaded word: But.

But…you don’t have an author platform.

Author Platform Defined

What’s an author platform? It’s everything and anything you do to get people to know you and like you so that when you do finally release a book (traditionally or independently) these people run out and buy it. In other words, it’s how many potential readers you’ve lined up. Or, put it this way: It’s how many fans you have.

Without an author platform, agents wouldn’t take me on and publishers wouldn’t publish my books.

Building Platform by Blogging (Writing)

You can build a platform in many ways; most don’t involve writing. I wanted to write, so I started blogging.

At first I had just one blog. Then I started another…and another…and another.  Before I knew it I had five blogs.

Around the time when I had two or three blogs, I landed my first contract with a literary agent. This major event in my writing life occurred because I could prove I had at least some semblance of an author platform in the form of blog readership. That blog readership had extended out to my social networks as well, where my fan base was growing.

Literary Representation = No More Slush Pile

Representation by a literary agent meant my book proposals would move out of the dreaded slush pile on acquisitions editors’ desks at publishing houses. The slush pile is where query letters and book proposals languish when the agent or acquisitions editor has no idea who you are or why they should pay any special attention to your work. Now, when my agent sent my work to an editor, it got serious attention much more quickly. By the time I had all five blogs, I landed a contract with a traditional publisher. (I might note that by this time I’d also had contracts with two other agents.)

I’m not advocating that you have more than one blog. I am, however, advocating that if you are a serious aspiring author or a published author seeking an agent or a publisher that you become a blogger. A blog is the easiest and quickest way to build an author platform. Not only can you build a fan base around your awesome writing—your blog posts, you also can share that writing via your social networks. That means you will gain more fans and followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and even Pinterest (if you use photos in your blog posts). As your blog gains readers, all your social networks will grow, too. Before you know it, you will have a platform.

6 Tips for Blogging to Build Platform

Here are six tips for growing your blog platform:

  1. Post 2-5 times per week when you first begin blogging.
  2. Keep up this pace for 6-12 months (then you can slack off).
  3. Keep your posts short to make blogging easy and quick (250-500 words per post).
  4. Share all your posts with your social networks in your status updates.
  5. Share the posts of other bloggers who write on similar topics.
  6. Follow other bloggers on social networks who blog on similar topics.

Once you have an author platform you will not hear that dreaded word—but—from agents again. That means you move out of the slush pile for good.

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  1. I think it’s amazing that you’re able to maintain five blogs. Do you sleep? (Just kidding of course.) I’ve been told that my blogs should be at least 1,000 words, and that if I can’t produce lengthy posts several times a week that I should at least add posts once a week. What do you think of that advice? BTW: I look forward to seeing you at the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference where you will be a presenter!

    • There are two strategies: 300-500 word posts more often (3-5 times per week) or 1,000 words once or twice a week (although some manage that more often). I opt for shorter more often; Google catalogs new content and that raises you up in the search engine results pages faster.

  2. I forgot to check the box below that lets me know whether or not there’s been a reply to my comment so I’m leaving this extra comment. Sorry!


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