Last weekend at the Midwest Writers Workshop, I offered a workshop on author platform building. Part of the workshop included 5 worksheets to help writers take an inventory of their platform (as it stands today), and also brainstorm how to better grow it.
Good news for you: I’m making my platform worksheets available for free.
Below I’ve offered an explanation of each worksheet.
New writers may think they don’t have a “platform,” but everyone does. It might not be big or dramatic, but you do have one. These worksheets help you think about that platform from multiple angles, and for those who are advanced enough, you can also put some numbers behind it.
Note: If the term “platform” is new to you, in short, it can be defined as whatever gives you visibility and an ability to connect with readers. I gave some fundamental advice about developing platform in this blog post at my Writer’s Digest blog: The Hardest Part About Developing Platform
A brief guide to the 5 worksheets
- Content. This worksheet helps you brainstorm all the content you currently own rights to, and prompts you to think of ways you might repurpose it for different mediums or channels.
- Website/Blog. This worksheet is especially helpful for fiction writers or poets who aren’t sure what to blog about. The checklist acts as a prompt/creativity tool to get you thinking beyond “I’ll just write about my own work.” I’ve also included a checklist of questions about your site’s purpose, and how to maximize its impact. Note: USP stands for “unique selling proposition”—and if you can’t fit the USP into the space provided, it’s probably too complicated or unfocused.
- Social Media. This worksheet takes stock of your social media presence, and prompts you to think about where your audience might actually hang out (rather than just where other WRITERS hang out).
- Relationships. This is the invisible fuel of just about everyone’s platform. It’s hard to make progress if you’re working alone. Most people are (pleasantly) surprised when they really start to think of the number of people and organizations they know.
- Actual Reach. This worksheet can be especially helpful if you’re putting together a book proposal, or doing a 6-month or annual inventory of where and how you seem to be succeeding. It is somewhat limited and could be crass, depending on who you are (numbers don’t tell the whole story, not by a long shot), but metrics can be essential in being more efficient with your efforts. (Note: Book sales and downloads are also part of your metrics; add those if applicable to you.)
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.