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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

TAKING THE PLUNGE: PLATFORM ANYONE?


Remember when you were a kid splashing in the kiddie pool looking over at the ten-year-olds jumping off the side, laughing and having the time of their lives? Two summers later, there you are, heart pounding, plunging into water that’s two feet over your head.

You sign up for swimming lessons, learn the strokes, and hang around the pool afterward, watching the lithe, stringy teens swan dive off the high board, and you promise yourself that someday that will be you.

Becoming a writer is a lot like becoming an accomplished swimmer. You don’t go from the kiddie pool to being a published author in a heart beat. But there is a passion born in the tenderness of youth, a desire to one day realize your dreams. At least there was for me. At a young age, books became my best friends, and someday I knew I would write my own book.

Then, one day I did. Wrote another one. Looked for some seasoned coaches. Sought out others who shared my passion. And after several seasons of practice, competition, and more practice, I had a manuscript I believed in. Before long, someone offered me a chance to be on the team. An agent. Then a publisher who wanted to pay to publish my book. In no time I knew I'd be swimming in the fast lane.

Uh . . . not so fast. No one knew me from the thousands of other contracted authors.

Enter the unknown waters of marketing. I’m back in the kiddie pool. Things are a little murky, but everywhere I turn, I keep hearing the same thing.

“What’s your platform?”

“Well, a few people read my blog.” (THANK YOU, friends, who faithfully read my drivel and still come back – you are my life raft).

“What else?”

“Umm. Facebook?”

“Good start. How about Twitter?”

Ugh. Too personal. I have nothing interesting to say. No one wants to know what I had for breakfast or the latest adventures of my doxie, Zelda. What can I possibly say in 140 characters?

“But this is the best way to create buzz about your book.”

Yeah. Yeah.

I don’t jump into deep waters without considering the cost and the reward: time, learning new technology (not to mention a whole new set of vocabulary words), finding people who would follow me. Following other people. Making new contacts. Building a platform. Learning more about the industry I’m honored to be part of. Yes, it’s clearer now. It's time to jump off the high dive. Twitter, here I come.

Okay. Today was the day. I slowly climbed the steps one by one. Only looked back a couple of times, then stepped onto the board. Crept to the end and took a couple of practice bounces and four deep breaths. Then I took the plunge and made my first tweet.

I’m taking it slow, dog-paddling in the oceanic water of Twitterdom. I have less than a dozen followers and am following a few more than that. Care to join me? If you do, my user name ChasingLilacs. I’d love to have you on board.

8 comments:

Faith Imagined said...

I can so relate to this but I think I am doing it backwards! Haha!

I am now following you on Twitter! I am looking forward to finding out what you eat for breakfast!

-Alisa Hope

Faith Imagined

carla stewart said...

Thanks for the follow, Alisa! And keep writing. Just think, when you have a contract you will already have a built-in platform. I think I'm the one who may be backward.

Erica Vetsch said...

Heading over to find you on Twitter!

For me, the jury's still out on the effectiveness of Twitter, but I'm still trying. :)

Koala Bear Writer said...

Good for you for jumping in! I'm resisting the Twitter movement for a bit - Facebook and blogging are enough for me!

Patti Lacy said...

Let me know how it goes, Carla.
I am keeping my feet dry and will watch you from my luxurious lounging chair, latte in one hand--Chasing Lilacs inthe other!!!!

Patti

carla stewart said...

I'm not a natural at social networking, but I have enjoyed facebook and reconnecting with old friends and staying connected with family. Will have to decide about twitter.

I'd rather be by the pool, Patti :-))

Myra Johnson said...

Glad to have you on the Twitter bus, Carla--but I have to agree with Erica. The jury is still out on its effectiveness. Oh, how I long (sort of) for the good old days when writing time meant WRITING time and not jumping around the 'Net checking blogs and social networking sites!!!

carla stewart said...

Yes, Myra, the jury's still out on Twitter. Balancing social media (aka marketing) with real writing is a conundrum. Why write if no one knows about you? How will you have something for people to know about if you don't write. If you discover the magic formula, let me know.