As Michael Hyatt pointed out in his post Three Reasons Why Authors Must Develop Their Own Platforms, there are some important factors to be considered concerning building your own platform even long before getting published. I've read advice like this all around the literary blogosphere over the past few months, so now I've decided to take the plunge and get serious about my own platform, when still in the querying stage.
Building a platform means putting yourself, your opinions and - as an (aspiring) author - your writing "out there". Out there, where others can see and experience you, where you can interact with your peers, where you can promote yourself and your talent. It means not only waiting for people to come and "find" you, but to participate in other literary social media and events, It means building a presence others are interested in enough to want to know what you have to say.
I think the last part is the really tricky part. Setting up accounts on facebook, twitter and blogspot is easy, but how do you get peoples' attention, get them to read and comment? Especially without sounding redundant, considering the other thousand blogs and twitter/facebook-accounts that all discuss the same writer-related topics. I think the answer lies not in the content itself, but in your own voice you bring to it. Give your opinion. Be personal. Be real. Give others a glimpse into what you feel, into your hopes, wishes and dreams.
I, for example, have been writing my blog for almost half a year now, but haven't had the guts to let anybody know about it. I haven't linked to it on my facebook-account, my twitter-account, my email-signature or my forum-signatures. The reason for that is simple: I'm scared of rejection, of people not liking me. Of "bad reviews", as it were.
The thing is, as an author I'll have to learn to live with rejection. If I ever do find myself getting published, I can't expect to get only raving reviews about my book. Some readers will not like it, and some of those might not keep their dislike on a professional level. Rejection hurts, especially when it gets personal.
On the other hand: f*** them! In the past two years I've been learning that it's not important that everybody else likes me and thinks I'm a good little girl. It's firstly important that I like myself. The fact is, I do like myself, especially as a writer and I don't need everybody else to do so as well just to keep that feeling. As long as I maintain that attitude, I can handle the nay-sayers.
So. Here goes nothing.
I've opened a shiny new email-account for my writer-alter-ego: firstname.lastname@example.org. From this account I will contact only "literary people", as in agents, editors, authors, writing buddies / brothers in arms.
Based on this new email-address, I've created new facebook- and twitter-accounts (you'll find me under Pia Newman in both), from which I will only follow and befriend those literati mentioned above.
Also, I have linked this blog to the new email-address and cross-mention it on facebook and twitter.
These measures hopefully present the foundation of my own writing-platform, for now limited to social media. Of course there are many other ways to get your voice out there. Off the cuff, writing contests and writers' conferences come to mind. For me, participating in writers' conferences isn't possible at the moment; I'm sure they exist in Germany, but as an English Urban Fantasy writer I don't have high hopes for my niche being represented here, and flying to the US isn't in my budget just yet. I can definitely keep my eyes open for contests, though.
My one concern is that I'll now start spending all my already limited writing-time on facebook, twitter and the blog, without ever getting any actual writing done. I'll have to find a balance, and maybe limit my platform-time to xxx minutes per day. For now, I'll start with fifteen minutes per day. That gives me a 1/4 hour platform-time, plus 3/4 hour writing-time, since one hour of every day is reserved for my favorite pasttime. Time and experience will have to tell whether that is enough. I guess, if all goes well, at some point it won't be anymore.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the literary persuasion: Behold the gates behind which lurks my Writer-Self and which I hereby unlock for you.