We've all heard the saying, "The best way to make a friend is to be a friend." So. True. It's a give and take relationship (kinda like marriage but without the...perks), and the more you give, the more you get in return. Usually.
When building an author platform (and reputation) the same mantra rings true. You have to put yourself out there, volunteer your time and skills with only the mere hope that it will pay off at some point down the road. I'm not exactly a proponent of things like facebook, myspace, and twitter, but I do understand why and how they work for some authors. If you've got the time, by all means, go for it. I, however, do not have the time.
Blogging is still one of the best ways to present yourself, especially for writers because, well, you write on a blog. A lot. It's also a good way to interconnect. Start following someone's blog, and they're likely to return the favor and follow yours. Remember to comment on their posts, too. Give, give, give!
For more tips on effective blogging, check out these links:
10 Commandments of Blogging at Pimp My Novel
Author Blogging at Editorial Ass
(I believe both of those posts also include more links to other helpful sites.)
Over the past year (14 months, to be exact), I've built a handful of relationships on the Writer's Digest forum. I'm eternally grateful to people like Liz Penn, Traci Grant, Kaycee Looney, Jenn Lidster, Emily White, and many others (sorry if I missed your name), for helping me improve my writing, and I hope that I have in some way been of help to them in return. Also, people like Jeff Yeager, Georganna Hancock, James Ritchie (and again, many others) have helped me understand aspects of editing and publishing that I wouldn't have otherwise obtained without firsthand experience. A BIG THANKS to all!
Writer's Digest has recently started a new community (aptly titled, the Writer's Digest Community), that is being coined by some as the "facebook for writers." The main thing I'm enjoying there, is that you're able to get a lot of face time on the main page, just by participating. By having your name viewable, people get curious. They click on your profile and...instant publicity. It's great. Join discussion groups (and post!), start a blog (and post!), comment on other people's stuff, and suddenly, you're your own publicist, and learning about writing and publishing while you do it. Bonus.
It's no secret that word of mouth can be a writer's best friend or their worst enemy. Be selective in how many online communities you participate in (too many, and they will quickly suck you dry of precious writing time), and remember (always!) that most everything on the internet is public. Agents are not quiet about the fact that they will research you on the internet before deciding whether or not to represent your work. Don't ruin your career before it starts by making comments/posts during the heat of emotion. Stay objective and professional.
I encourage everyone to check out the new Writer's Digest Community and let me know what you think. And if anyone has any good/bad experiences they'd like to share about other platform venues (I didn't even scratch the surface here, I know), or how a seemingly insignificant relationship with someone had helped them achieve success, please do so in the comments. Looking forward to reading them!