This week, I move into my new home. 

The box towers in my house have grown so large, my cat, Miss Foxy, recently gave me a look that said, “Your box kingdom has exceeded my ability to guard it.” 

Like my kitty, I’m ready for a return to normal life. 

Living in transition makes it easy to see why author platforms are so daunting. 

How do you get everything done when your to-do list never ends? 

The answer is simple, <<First Name>>. 

Work smarter rather than harder.  

So far, we’ve talked about online platforms and how to write your way to a bigger audience.

Now let’s capitalize on what you’re already doing. 

Speaking 

You don’t have to wear a microphone to call yourself a speaker. Think of the people you’re already in front of—students, spiritual communities, clubs and volunteer organizations, other writers.  

To work smarter rather than harder: 

  • Make a list of your official and unofficial speaking gigs.
  • Try to expand your reach. Could you speak more frequently or on a larger stage?  

 
To up your game: 

  • Pitch a segment to a podcast.
  • Start a podcast.
  • Sign up for a local reading, Moth, or other storytelling event. 
  • Volunteer to speak at your local library or writing organization. 
  • Pitch a session at a writing conference.

 

Joining 

Supporting your community can help you build meaningful relationships with people who might one day become your readers. When joining an organization, there’s no need to promote yourself. If someone asks what you do, tell them you’re a writer, but don’t make it your focus. Instead, find ways to be of service.

To work smarter rather than harder: 

  • Make a list of the organizations you belong to—start with writing-related groups like book clubs, critique groups, nonprofit writing organizations, then expand your list to include alumni organizations, religious/spiritual/self-help organizations, business organizations, and nonprofit and volunteer organizations. 
  • Assess which organizations align with your passions.  

 
To up your game: 

  • If you’re a passive member of an organization, could you either leave or become more involved? For example, could you become a reader for a literary magazine or help with an event? 
  • Volunteer to support the causes you write about. Think about the beats I mentioned in last week’s blog post. If you’re looking for inspiration, see Carol Michel’s essay on marketing your book without social media.
  • Support your local independent bookstore. Attend their events and regularly buy their books. I can’t stress how important this is. Local book stores support the local authors they know. Unless you have a big platform, they’re less inclined to help strangers.  

 
Pass The Torch

When it comes to teaching, writers frequently think of MFAs and tenure track positions. But Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, started her career teaching free classes in church basements. 

Guess what? I did the same thing—only I taught free mindful-writing courses at a mental health center. And for those of you who are curious, I don’t have an MFA. 

To work smarter rather than harder: 

  • Make a list of the ways you’re already teaching others. 
  • See if you can do it at a higher level or for a larger audience. 

 
To up your game: 

  • Teach a free seminar at your local library, religious organization, or community center. 
  • Volunteer to run a group at your local nonprofit writing center or library. 
  • Volunteer with organizations that mentor young writers like America Reads, or NEAs the Big Read. 
  • Teach skills other than writing—think gardening, building bookshelves, cooking, etc. 
  • Pitch a session at a writing conference.   

 
Be a Good Human 

This is probably the easiest and most overlooked way to build your author platform. It’s also the most fulfilling. 

Get to know the people around you. Ask them questions. Be curious about their answers. See if you can be of service. 

Above all, treat everyone with kindness and respect. The person you least expect might be integral to your writing career. 

Being a good human in real life will increase your authenticity online. 

To work smarter rather than harder: 

  • Make a list of your regular connections. 
  • Ask yourself: How am I lifting these people up? How am I being of service?

 
To up your game:  

  • Post online about your colleagues’ successes and share their publications.  
  • Write reviews for the books you love. 
  • When possible, attend the readings of the writers you know and admire. 
  • Complete random acts of kindness. 
  • When appropriate, ask cashiers, servers, and others you engage with how they’re doing. Listen to their answers.  

 

To really work smarter rather than harder, clarify your priorities.  Remember, you don’t have to do everything. In fact, doing a few things well can be more effective than spreading yourself thin. 

Quitting, setting limits, and saying no are just as important as saying yes. 

Have some platform or limit-setting questions? Send me an email. 

In fact, as we end this month, <<First Name>>, tell me something you’re ready to quit so you can say yes to your writing life. 
 

 

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