• Celine Keating
  • [SWP: Behind the Book] 5 Ways to Build Your Platform—and Build Community in the Process
[SWP: Behind the Book] 5 Ways to Build Your Platform—and Build Community in the Process
Contributor
Written by
Celine Keating
June 2017
Contributor
Written by
Celine Keating
June 2017

In the two years since my novel with SWP, Play for Me, came out, I’ve discovered there are ways to be involved in platform building (that dreaded concept!) that don’t have to do with social media. Here are some ideas that I have found personally very fulfilling and that you might consider as well.

1. Reviewing
I have had experience writing music reviews, yet I never thought of doing book reviews for publication until I was asked by a writer friend whose book I loved. Now I’m reviewing regularly. I find that not only does this exercise my critical-thinking muscles and make me feel part of the literary conversation, but it also has gained me the appreciation of authors, publicists, and publishers. You could also consider starting your own blog to discuss books, interview authors, or work with blog tour operators to build your following.

2. Volunteer in a writers’ organization
Many writers’ organizations are eager for volunteers; joining will give you the opportunity to hone new skills. I joined the The Women’s National Book Association and now serve on the National Board. I’ve made terrific contacts, worked with well-known authors on events, and was invited to be on a panel discussing my work.  

3. Organize a group reading 
After Play for Me came out, I helped organize a tour with other SWP authors who live in the northeast. Most recently, I co-organized readings with several writers (including SWP author Garinè  Issasi) on the theme Novels That Rock. We scored a reading at the flagship B&N in New York, added a music duo to the mix, and had a packed house. Group readings are more work to pull off than solo events, but you’ll gain the benefits of a wider audience while providing more of a community experience for everyone involved.

4. Teach a free class

Many libraries are grateful for the offer to teach for free, so I ran a fiction workshop for my local branch. The library handled the logistics, outreach, and promotion, and the students were super appreciative. In return, the library hosted me for two readings and has asked me to lead a reading series.

5. Put together an anthology
Creating an anthology is a huge undertaking, one you shouldn’t take on unless you’re truly passionate about your theme. Montauk is a beach town close to my heart, and I wanted to capture its essence. On Montauk: A Literary Anthology also includes a story of mine that won a national award. The editing, production, funding campaign, and administrative work took more time and effort than expected, but there were huge payoffs. We held eight events in bookstores and libraries in the region and garnered tons of media, from newspapers to radio and TV. Unexpectedly these spawned additional articles and appearances just about me and my novels. I made 50 friends in the authors chosen for the book, but most gratifying was hearing the appreciation from local people – especially because the profits from the sale of the book go to local environmental organizations.

The primary goal with these activities isn’t to get more Twitter followers or book sales, but those will come from connections that occur naturally. At the very least, you’ll be doing tangible good, developing skills, building a network, and gaining recognition in your community.

 

 

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