Tags: platform

Do I have to blog? The curse of the writer’s platform

by Amber Keyser
Published on: March 12, 2015
Categories: Business of Writing
Comments: No Comments

1188800347_z1One piece of advice that many, many pre-published writers hear is that they need to develop their online presence. They need a platform.


Most of us hate that.

But we love books, right? The logical first stab at blogging is often to review books that we read. Before you jump on this bandwagon, I offer a few words of caution.

First, this weird, wild world of interwebs that we inhabit has dissolved the traditional boundaries of publishing. There used to be a clear demarcation between readers and writers and reviewers, between editors and agents, between publishers and the rest of us. These lines have blurred. Many agents are “editorial.” Many editors also write. Some agencies have set up their own in-house publishing wings.

And this brings me to book reviews.

I don’t write them. Ever. I will tell you when I love a book. I will beg you to run out a buy a book that I adore (like OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt). But I don’t give stars and I don’t review. Let me tell you why.

Writing useful, constructive, intelligent reviews that analyze the craft within the pages is HARD. It takes skill, experience, and time. The reviewers who do this well are GOLDEN. If I were going to review, I would be compelled to be that kind of reviewer. But that would take immense time and energy away from writing my actual books.

Many reviews that you will stumble upon are of a different sort. They are a reader’s opinion, based not so much on analysis but on feelings and impressions and person connections. This is cool too. I love it when a reader connects with something I’ve written, but it’s different from a literary review. And there are so many of these blogs out there, that you will find it hard to make your voice heard among them. If you are doing this as a writer trying to build a platform, it probably won’t get you very far.

The other reason I don’t review books is that the book community is small and these people are my friends. I want to support them as artists more than I want to publicly critique their work.

But back to platform… do you have to blog?


I blog very infrequently on my main website, usually about experiences or thoughts that get lodged in my brain and require a little noodling on my part. I don’t have the illusion that this will win me millions of followers, but it will give the interested few a peek into my weird head.

We blog here because we saw a need. So many people over the years have asked us if we had room in our group (Sadly, we don’t) that we decided to lift the veil on our process so that other writers could look inside. This isn’t a platform for any of us. It’s a service. We’re trying to meet a need that we observed.

As you are thinking about building your base as as writer, think about what you have share, what need you could fill, and what would be fun for you to explore. Being online as a writer is about building relationships. There’s no need to force it.

And find me — on Twitter, on Goodreads, or on my author FB page! I love to connect with other story-tellers and other readers!

What the heck is a platform? Do I need a saw?

by Amber Keyser
Published on: May 4, 2011
Categories: Business of Writing
Comments: 7 Comments

I belong to a Yahoo group called NFforKids, dedicated to discussions about writing nonfiction for young readers.  In a recent discussion thread, we’ve been discussing (1) involvement in social media and (2) platform.  The two topics are closely related in my mind because effective involvement in social media (as a professional as opposed to strictly for fun) is about creating a brand or platform for oneself and still being real (that’s critical).

Inspired by a great workshop by Deborah Reber at SCBWI-WWA a few years back, the Scrivas held a working session to develop our “brands.”  At first I struggled to combine my nonfiction books about science and my fantasy/adventure fiction.  Now some might council that I use a pen name for my fiction and keep the two separate, but that would mean twice the work, right?  I mean, who has the time to maintain a social media presence for two online persona?

As we worked through a variety of exercises (including writing mission statements), I focused on the connections.  I like being a scientist because it’s about understanding how the world works.  I like writing fiction because it’s about understanding how people (and by extension, the world) works.  I use “story” to bring nonfiction to life, and I insert natural history (science) into my fiction at ever turn.

These realizations inform the way I decided to present myself on my website and in my interactions on social media.  I write about science and adventure for young readers because I’m trying to understand how the world works.  It’s been incredibly powerful for me to figure out what drives my curiosity and dedication to writing.

Go ahead, try it!  Explore your brand.  It’s not crass.  It’s empowering.  Who are you?  What are you bringing to the world?

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