CCF is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit. You help support the work of CCF when you purchase from vendors via the links posted on our site.
Home | About | Subscribe | Postcards | Polls | Translate | BookSense | BookCloseouts | Blog | | Contact Us | Add to My Yahoo! RSS feed

 CCF Top Picks
 CCF Kids
 CCF Youth
 Tibbetts' POV
 Book Clubs
 Holiday Favorites

Shipping & Returns
Privacy Notice
Conditions of Use
Contact Us

Home > WRITING                           Share this article with others!
Ten Tips on How to Build a Platform
by Marcela Landres, "The stronger an author’s platform, the greater the likelihood his or her work will sell. "
Printer-friendly page Printer page
Email this Page Email article

Marcela Landres, Editorial ConsultantWhen I was an editor at Simon & Schuster, I was repeatedly astonished at how counterintuitive the publishing business can be. For instance, most people logically assume that agents and editors are seeking good writers. Sadly, writing talent is, at best, of secondary importance. A quick review of what’s available on your local bookstore’s shelves underscores the fact that good writing is not necessarily all it takes to land a book deal; scores of manuscripts that are superior in quality go unpublished every day.

The mistaken assumption that talent is primary leads many aspiring authors astray when they approach the submission process. I should know—I received countless manuscripts and proposals at Simon & Schuster where I observed first-hand that a remarkable number of them shared the same common (and, lamentably, avoidable) errors. Like all agents and editors, I had precious little time in which to read submissions and every flaw was a welcome excuse to place a manuscript or proposal in the never-ending "Reject" pile.

So, given that writing talent is at best secondary, what are agents and editors really looking for? Simple—writers with a strong platform. Why? The stronger an author’s platform, the greater the likelihood his or her work will sell.

A platform is two things: your reputation and your rolodex. Marcela Landres' Ten Tips on How to Build a PlatformWhoever said it’s all who you know and not what you know got it half right; equally important is who knows you. If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself "Dear God, I don’t have a platform, and I will never be published," don’t despair. Below are ten tips to help you start building a platform today.

1. Stop writing.
Like the publishing business, this tip is counterintuitive. Yes, you should hone your craft, but those who spend 100% of their time writing and none of their time building a platform are often unpublished or unhappily published.

2. Make friends.
The best way to learn how to do something is to hang out with people who’ve done it. If you want to open a restaurant, network with chefs; if you want to get a Ph.D., socialize with academics; and if you want a writing career, mingle with published—not unpublished—authors.

3. Buy luggage.
You can’t build much of a reputation or a rolodex sitting in front of your computer. Get off your butt, back away from your computer and get on a plane, preferably one headed to a reputable conference, residency or workshop.

4. Read bios.
Not biographies, bios—as in the author bios printed on book covers. Notice how bios invariably list highlights of a writer’s platform. How do you think they got that book deal in the first place?

5. Got readers?
Establish a readership of people that extends well beyond your mom, best friend, and significant other. Publish your short pieces (e.g. poems, short stories, essays) in literary journals, magazines, newspapers and reputable web sites before seeking publication of book-length works like novels or memoirs.

6. Enter contests.
The difference between writers who win contests and those that don’t isn’t talent as much as persistence and postage. As they say, you gotta be in it to win it.

7. Be persistent.
If you get rejected, find another contest or publication and submit again. If you get rejected a second time, find yet another contest or publication and submit again. Don’t give up. Be sure to first do extensive research so you can say with confidence that you are submitting your work to appropriate venues.

8. Avoid perfection.
Some of the best writers I’ve ever met remain unpublished because they refuse to submit their work to contests or publications until their writing is "good enough." Often, they aspire to be on par with writers such as James Joyce when the reality is that in order to get published you only need to be as good as James Patterson.

9. Find models.
Read every article you can get your hands on about writers, such as E. Lynn Harris, Karen E. Quinones Miller and M.J. Rose, who have successfully launched writing careers with platforms they built themselves. If they can do it, so can you.

10. Choose now.
No one is born with a platform. If you don’t have one today it is because of choices you made yesterday. If you want a platform tomorrow, make different choices today.

Copyright © 2006 Marcela Landres

Marcela Landres is an Editorial Consultant who edits manuscripts, critiques proposals, and advises on how to launch a writing career. She was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster where she published the best-selling authors Karen Rauch Carter and Dora Levy Mossanen. She speaks frequently for organizations such as The National Writers Union and Columbia University and teaches a popular workshop, "How to Write a Knockout Book Proposal," at The Learning Annex. She is often quoted as a publishing expert by the media, including The Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Tribune. For more information visit


Top of PageTop of Page

Advanced Search
click to subscribe and get the CCF bulletin click to subscribe and get the CCF bulletin

Click to blog image

What's New
CCF Writer: An Online Writing Contest
When Push Comes to Shove
2009 Winning Contest Entries
6 Steps to Writing Flash Fiction
PPW Fiction Contest: VIP Judges - complete list
My Two Worlds
In the Eyes of Cleopatra
The Huge Persimmon
Alley Discovery
A Steamed Dragon
Highlights 2010 Fiction Contest
The Shadows

© 1998-2008 Children Come First. All rights reserved.