I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

A rose might smell as sweet even if your neighbor thinks they’re called baked beans and your husband thinks they rhyme with jello, but you’re going to have a hard time calling in an order to the florist around Valentine’s Day. In your journey to publication, building name recognition is important, too. (That was an illustration stretch, but hey. I got to use a pretty picture.)

These days you hear a lot about platforms, and they’re not talking about shoes. So you aren’t Oprah’s long-lost cousin and don’t sit on the platform at women’s conferences alongside Joyce Meyer. You can still work on building your readership.

Get your name out there. Here are some ways you can do that:

~ Enter contests. The Genesis, for example. The finalist lists are posted on the ACFW website and various blogs. The winners are listed on CBD online. Google will pull up those lists when someone searches for your name. And, of course, you get the cute ribbon to attach to your nametag at the conference. :-)

~ Volunteer at conferences and/or within writing organizations. Lisa Jordan is amazing at this. Among other things, she helps Susan May Warren with a lot of her My Book Therapy stuff and she’s currently running for a position with ACFW. Even though she goes into these things with a heart to serve, her efforts will bring her into contact with people who may help boost her career through mentorship or other contacts, etc.

~ Write articles. Free or otherwise. Of course we prefer otherwise, but even the freebies can help grow our future readership. I know names from writers for the ACFW ezine that I wouldn’t otherwise. If I see their name on the spine of a book someday, it’s going to catch my attention. And if I loved what they wrote in the ezine, I’m probably going to buy the book. (Or, more likely, put it on my Christmas list. I love this time of year, don’t you? :-))

~ Blog. You can create a blog for free, making it cute by choosing one of the many free templates out there. Try to keep a regular posting schedule, but don’t stress if you don’t. Tosca Lee doesn’t—I don’t think it’s hurt her much. :-) If you hate blogging or just don’t have time, something to consider is joining a group blog like this one. I only write for The Ponderers once a month—that’s totally doable.

~ Social Networking. Does this really make a difference? Well, I did buy a Jenny B. Jones’s novel solely based on the fact that her Facebook updates crack me up. Put links to your blog posts up on Facebook and Twitter to drive more traffic to your blog. Update regularly, but be careful what you say. You are creating a reputation. Don’t be whiny or gossipy or angry or write long letters to friends in your status update, because I will hide or unfriend or unfollow or unwhatever you. Know what should go on walls and what should be messaged privately.

This goes for everything, of course. Your responses to the editors or agents who reject you. Your rants on the writers’ loops you belong to. You want your name to be memorable for the right reasons when your manuscript makes its way to an editor’s desk or to a shelf the bookstore. No baked beans allowed here. Only roses.

~ Jenness Walker

Taking time to be thankful:

At this very moment, I'm very grateful for a laptop that is actually charging! :-) But on a more serious note, I have been blessed incredibly with a wonderful husband. One who supports my writing, puts up with my (many) quirks, loves me, is committed to our marriage, and looks to God for guidance in every aspect of our lives. It's kind of handy that he's a website designer, too. :-)

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!


  1. Great post - and so important for anyone serious about writing as a career. Thanks for the reminder!
    I'm also thankful for the support of my amazing husband and kids. After 16+ years, they still get excited when I get something new published. God has truly blessed me with exceeding abundance!

  2. I've attended workshops on building my platform.
    Been mentored.
    Written about it.
    Spoken on the topic.
    And I still find it daunting.
    Thanks for simplifying the process, Jenness.

    And I am thankful for the first significant snowfall in Colorado!
    Yes, I am!

  3. I'd like to add...and find a great group of writers that you can be a part of...like the Ponderers!!! Social Networking via others is a great way to get the word out - how many times have you heard "a friend, of a friend, of a friend...."?
    Great Post Jenness!

  4. Helpful content, J. Being part of the Ponderers has helped some of us get started on a lot of this, too. And I love the great acknowledgement about your sweet husband. Are you moving to AL and buying the home/redoing the home w/ the great architectural options?

  5. Jenness, thanks so much for the practical and eye-opening information. Being so new in the writing world, I haven't really considered building a reputation. Thanks for showing me how to be purposeful about it. I plan to use your wise wisdom. :)

    I'm thankful for my husband too. He's been supportive and encouraging in this adventure I've undertaken. :) I'm also thankful for my sweet kids--they brings smiles to my days (most of them anyway).

  6. Thanks for the reminder that we need to be as intentional with building our platforms as we are in developing our writing skills. And who knows...someday Oprah might be calling US!

  7. Great post Jenness. Very practical. Lot's of wonderful nuggets. But, umm... regarding the "blogging" thing you referred to. Shouldn't that be "clogging"? Like we did on Saturday nights in Texas?

    Ok, ok... I finally bit the bullet and gave into blogging. At least my feet don't get as sore.

    If I hadn't done it yet, this post would have convinced me!

    Great job!

  8. What a great post, Jenness! Practical and fun. And for the record, I loved the first paragraph!

    I find the very thought of platform-building intimidating solely because of time constraints. I think to myself, um, how am I supposed to work full time, write in my non-work hours and still have a social life?! And I'm not even a wife and mom at this point! And now I'm supposed to add platform-productivity on top of everything else? But the people who carve out the time to do the whole platform thing really are the ones that make strides in their writing careers. So, probably instead of being intimidating and praying that God just sends out some heavenly e-blast to all the publishing powers-that-be with my name in it, I should re-read your post about a dozen times and then come up with an action plan. :)

  9. I love your rose picture...struggled more than once with what kind of picture to use in the blog. lol Great suggestions with good common sense. Thanks Jenness!

  10. Melissa, believe me, I'm feeling you on the whole I-don't-have-time thing. I worked maybe 6-8 hours a week until last month, and now I'm working full-time and am supposed to be doing major marketing for Bliss. Etc. So read this as a do-what-I-say type post and don't go check my personal blog. lol.

    But seriously, I think you're doing pretty well. You're blogging--at least two places. You're a two-time finalist and the very first Frasier winner. You're on facebook, go to conferences, etc.

    Don't freak out. As long as you're not picking your nose in front of editors or something, I think your reputation and platform building are just fine. :-)

    Although, come to think of it, you might want to work on your acceptance speech a bit for next time. Just sayin'. lol)

  11. Thanks, Pat. And isn't that a great picture? I thought it was fun.

    Reebs, definitely blogging, not clogging. I'm bad enough at the former. lol

    Ava...let me know when Oprah calls you. :-)

  12. Jeanne, it's great that you have a supportive family. They're invaluable, aren't they?

    And don't stress about this stuff. They're just some things to keep in mind, especially the being careful of your reputation part. I've seen some public emails and blog posts that have made me cringe as I wonder if any editors are reading them...and if they're going to remember that name if that person ends up pitching to them.

  13. Jennie and Delores, YES! Being a Ponderer has been amazing. Don't know what I'd do without you girls, even if you didn't help with promotion. :-)

    Dee--probably not. Sadly. But there were pros and cons, so I'll focus on the cons and not be so sad. lol

    Beth, Thanks. And your pictures were pretty...from the warm comfort of my FL home.

    Edie--Yay for another supportive family! Thanks for stopping by!