Climbing 10 Steps to a Writer’s Platform


The Eiffel Tower's second platform is near the center of this photo.

The Eiffel Tower’s second platform is near the center of this photo.

To unpublished writers of nonfiction: Unless you’re a major celebrity or you’ve survived a cataclysmic disaster that was headline news, the first thing you’ll hear from a prospective agent or publisher is that you must have a platform. More than a soapbox—think the second platform of the Eiffel Tower (the highest one reachable by stairs). You are expected to have a ready-made audience for your book: a large number of folks who will line up outside all the Barnes & Noble stores the morning it is to be released and demand that the doors be opened early. How does someone who’s led a quiet, mundane life attain said platform? I don’t have a magic formula, but step by step, this is how I’m doing it:

  1. Denial. Platform? I’ll work so hard to make the book great—I won’t need no steenkin’ platform!
  2. Anger. Why does everyone keep pestering me to get into social media? How would I find time to write the freakin’ book if I waste so much of it on Facebook and Twitter?
  3. Ignoring the problem. I’m too busy writing – I’ll deal with my platform tomorrow. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day
  4. Grudging acceptance. The book’s nearly done. Might as well bite the bullet and start a blog. Damn, this is time consuming! To the last syllable of recorded time;
  5. Ignored. Nobody’s reading my blog. How can I use a blog to build a platform without a platform to draw attention to the blog? And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
  6. Dejected. What’s the use? I’ll just stop posting, since no one’s listening. Back to the writing and revising. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.
  7. Depressed. I’m an idiot. I pour my energy into writing, but it’s all for naught if no one reads it. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
  8. Acceptances! Revising those poems again and again finally worked! A few words are actually in print – and   The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it…
  9. Hope. At least someone thought my writing was worth sharing. Not much of a platform to attract an agent for my book, but it’s a step up. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged
  10. Persistence. Sign up for Twitter, blog more, send out more queries, send out more poems, start a new book… If I create enough sparks, I may eventually light a bonfire. Missing me one place search another

Actually I did climb to the second platform of the Eiffel Tower, all 700 steps.  My writer’s platform?  10 steps down, only 690 to go…


3 thoughts on “Climbing 10 Steps to a Writer’s Platform

  1. Sounds like childbirth, eh, Judy. Just when we are about to quit, someone calls to say they love our book. We find a new review that says we don’t suck. We grab an inspiration to keep soldiering on, paws on keyboard, as words pour forth. Write on, right now.

  2. These are all great, but I’m convinced that persistence is the key. I’ve noticed that the people who succeed in any endeavor may not always be the smartest or most talented, but they were the ones who never gave up. I also believe in the “spaghetti” theory. Throw enough spaghetti at a wall and some of it is bound to stick. Submit, submit, submit. All those “declines” just make the “acceptance” that much sweeter when it comes.

    • You’re absolutely right. You give a great visual for “stick-to-it-ive-ness!” A healthy dose of optimism helps, too. I’ve hung an empty 8 1/2 x 11 frame on my office wall, ready for a letter or email from my future agent, then publisher, then book reviewer.

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