Platform building starter prompts

Earlier this year we had a little competition. Twelve weeks, twelve prompts. While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group.

While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group. That got me thinking that 12 prompts to kickstart your platform might be a good topic to post about.

So here they are.

12 prompts to kickstart your platform

What other prompts would you add?

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A Round Robin of Writer Blog Posts

Every now and then I like to publish a list of cool things to read on other people’s blogs. This is not quite one of those posts but there are links to other people’s blogs.

However, there are a few posts on those other blogs, that I have written along with other people’s [psts on similar topics. I did something sort of similar with 5 Writer Blogs you Should Definitely Read.

Author Platforms

Sometimes it seems Author Platforms is all I talk about. I promise this is not the case.

First up, for Author Buzz UKA Comprehensive Guide to Author Platforms really is very comprehensive. Hopefully, it is the most definitive explanation of Author Platforms that will ever be needed.

Other posts on author platforms worth a read:

How is your author platform going? Got any questions?

Scary Stories

I recently published an article titled “The thin line between scary and hilarious” on my own Author Buzz network blog. I took a look at how humour and horror were essentially the same things.

I don’t have a list of other writers blogs with scary stories on them. Maybe because I have not found many indie author blogs with scary stories on them. Other than The Legend of Spicer Cove by L. L. Winder, I got nothing.

Can you recommend an author blog with scary stories on it?

Author Earnings

Talking of scary stories, what most authors earn is scary. Scary low. Ever since Author Buzz published the “The Shocking Truth about Author Earnings“, it has been bothering me that we authors do not earn that much. Here are some other views on the subject.

 

 

What do you think about the state of author earnings?

A character I most regret killing off

As writers, we often form a close connection to our favourite characters. Sometimes though, these characters are destined by plot or by design to die.

As we said in the last prompt (Favourite line that you cut from a story) it is an often repeated truism that:

In writing, you must kill your darlings

That applies just as much to characters as it does to excessive prose.

For today’s platform prompt, tell us about a character you most regret killing off.

Why would I write about that?

I still hold that it is true that there is something wonderful about getting to see inside the editing process of a writer. Never more so than when talking about the characters you would have liked to have kept alive or that you regret killing off.

You never know what will hook a reader into buying a book but if you are willing to share some of your passion for your story, that passion can infect new readers.

We said of sharing favourite cut lines:

There is little or no downside to sharing much loved but ultimately cut moments from a work but plenty of potential upsides. If only because it gives you something to write about on your blog while you edit.

The same is true of sharing favourite characters that you finished off in some gruesome way.

Don’t make this one mistake

There is one mistake you can make when sharing your regret over the death of a character. One mistake you must never make.

That mistake is major plot spoilers. Do not post unmarked spoilers unless you want very unhappy fans.

Without any spoilers, which character do you wish you had not killed off?

The Final Contest: The Big Vote

Well, we are finally here. You have written, comments, and voted you way through twelve weeks of platform building themes designed to prompt you into establishing your authorial platform. Well done.

This week instead of writing an entry you will be picking a winner. Of course, I will be reading the last entries and picking winners. This last batch of winners will include three editor picks that did not win in their week but deserve a conceptual prize anyway.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriterThat (image to your right) is an artists impression of me trying to figure out which amazing post deserves to be a winner.

Before I get to giving you the details for the big vote, a few words about building on what you have created.

How to make the most of it

Over the last twelve weeks, you have written drawn an audience. Some blogs take months to get to that level of audience. Some of you seem to have a full year’s worth of audience building under your belt in just three months. That is very impressive and you should make the most of it.

For example, this blog took two months before anyone besides me even properly recognised its existence. We launched last year to no fan fair at all and came up the hard way. For those of you that took part in even some of the contest, you have a head start. A huge head start.

Make the most of it – keep writing posts. Build that platform and when your first book comes out enjoy being able to tell loyal readers all about it.

If you prefer to write to prompts we have two entire categories of prompts, which I try to put something out for each week.

  1. The Platform Builder Prompt
  2. The weekly story prompt

There might not be a winner announced each week for these but the prize was always the thing that you created not what I gave out.

You may also want to consider making a platform at Author Buzz UK. It is a website that I am helping to build (based on WordPress) specifically for authors to build a presence. It is based on a lot of the platform building theory that I have been talking about here. The forums will be a good place to chat with fellow writers once we start to pick up steam.

Whatever you do, keep writing. Make amazing art.

The big vote

The big vote has two parts to it.

  1. Sharing as many of your entries as you can
  2. Voting on the entries that have been shared

The big vote takes place at /r/ThanetWinners2017 and will run until at least one items gets a solid lead or we all get fed up with waiting. The deadline is, erm, sometime randomly decided after Monday the 5th of June so share soon, vote often and may the best post win.

Getting your fans to go vote for you is allowed. Anyone can vote for the grand winner. Anyone at all.

Also, any theme that you wrote for outside of the deadline time can be entered. So if you missed a week, you still get a chance to shine.

Best of luck to you all. You wonderful writers, you.

Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

Favourite line that you cut from a story

Hands and paper

The editing process can be brutal. Often you have to cut something that you loved because it does not work with the rest of the story.

What is your favourite line that you cut from a story? Just as importantly, why would you write a blog post about it?

There is an oft-repeated proverb for writers:

In writing, you must kill your darlings

As to who really said it, I don’t know, but the truth is that sometimes the bit you love has to go. But just because it is gone from the story does not mean that it cannot make one last triumph in a deleted scenes section of the DVD of your novel.

Mixed metaphors aside, there is something wonderful about getting to see inside the editing process of a writer. Not only that but sometimes a scene which failed to advance the plot can give fans something really interesting to argue about.

Is that date between the protagonist and the secondary character part of the cannon, and if so, will it shape the next book in the series?

You never know what will hook a reader into buying a book but if you never share any secrets from the cutting room floor you can be certain those secrets gave you nothing at all.

While there is no way to know if a much loved but later cut moment will sell a single book there is very little chance that sharing a few choice moments will not at least titillate fans. There is an outside chance you will draw in a visitor who, having read the scene finally goes out and buys the book to read what happened to those characters.

There is little or no downside to sharing much loved but ultimately cut moments from a work but plenty of potential upsides. If only because it gives you something to write about on your blog while you edit.

This week’s prompt is to share something you cut but that you really loved.

How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

What I do differently with my genre?

To compliment Fiction Friday, I have compiled a long old list of theme ideas for platform building blog posts.

This collection I think of as the Business Monday Platform Builder Prompt.

What I do differently with my genre?

This is an area that a lot of writers fail to address and we do so at our own cost. In business, we talk about the USP – Unique selling proposition. Your USP is the reason why someone should come to you rather than anyone else.

As writers, we are not also naturally attuned to thinking about what we do differently. Howeve5r, what we do that is unique or special is part of the character of our writing and the kind of stories only we can tell.

Each writer has a story that only they can tell. Give the same plot, characters, setting, and chapter notes to another writer and you will get a different story.

Reflecting on your uniqueness is as important for you as a writer as it is for the reader who might be looking for exactly what you offer.

What is your genre?

Of course, to be able to know how you set yourself apart in your genre, you must first know what the genre is.

Rock your Writing gives a great guide to figuring this issue out. I would certainly give that article a read if you are struggling to identify which genre your multi-genre break-out novel sits in.

For example, for all the urban fantasy elements I cram into some stories I know that they are actually soft sci-fi while others, despite the science bits are really science fiction. One with both is actually a coming of age story about childhood. The magic is secondary to that.

  1. Step one, know your genre.
  2. Step two, figure out what you do differently.
  3. Step three, write about it.

Let us know how you get on. For most platforms, linking to this post will ping it and make a link back to your post. Then we can all come and read what you have written. I look forward to checking out your platforms and your reflections of what you do differently.

Write well.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.