Every aspiring writer (and truthfully, every emerging writer too) needs to be heavily involved in a writing-related project. It doesn’t matter whether it is a project that you create or whether you latch on to an already established project; either way, you must do more than just write in order to be taken seriously in the literary game.
The sad truth is that there are (and always will be) many talented writers who will never get their work out to the literary-inclined public. They may publish on Smashwords and generate a readership consisting of little more than family and friends. They are great writers, yet they won’t have their books discussed (dissected?) by critics. They are talented voices, yet they won’t have their books on display at The Strand. No one will read their work, regardless of what they create, because they never amassed a platform.
You already know that you need to submit your writing to literary journals and small publishers, and to connect with agents. However, if you keep getting rebuffed, even though you’re doing everything right, you need to consider your platform, or more specifically your lack of a platform.
I think Lena Dunham is a genius. Lena Dunham received a $3.7 million advance for her new book. Why did she receive that much money? Of course, she is quite a talented writer (and actress), but the reason that she received $3.7 million for the rights to her manuscript, while many other writers would be lucky to receive $4,000, let alone publish at all, is because of her platform. She created a television show (Girls) that depicts the life of modern cosmopolitan twentysomethings in a way that has never been done before, and because of that she reaped a considerable reward from Random House.
If you are struggling as a writer, you need to analyze your platform. Who are you? What have you accomplished? Is your name is known at least within a certain niche group? If not, you need to get cracking. Create your own blog, start a literary group, become a reader for a literary magazine—just do something to get known in the sphere of writing (unless you can do something quite a bit bigger in some other sphere.)
It all comes down to platform. If you have a modicum of talent, you can write something that can get published. However, without the platform, it makes it quite a bit harder. All you have to do is get known, then all the rest will take care of itself.
Do you have any good tips for writers looking to enhance their platform? Please feel free to share them by commenting on this post.