The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Thirteen

Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina KatzWelcome to day thirteen of the third annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway!

Ready to get known? Then you are ready for Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform by Christina Katz (that’s me!).

Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform comprehensively instructs writers on getting known before the book deal. There are numerous titles on how to market yourself and your book after publication, or after you land a book deal, but none focus on how you get known before you land a book deal.

Increasingly, book writers need to know: What can I do now to start getting known? How do I build a marketing platform that will attract the attention of editors and agents?

Many writers still believe that their credentials or education will be enough to impress agents and editors, only to find themselves stumped when asked to describe their “platform” that will support future sales of their book. Those who already know what “platform” means still struggle to weave self-promotion in with everything else they already do.

Get Known Before the Book Deal starts from square one and assumes no previous knowledge or experience in marketing/promotion. It walks you step-by-step through the whys and hows of becoming visible and cultivating visibility from scratch, while offering an economical approach. You don’t have to spend thousands to self-promote. More and easier access to Web tools means that platform-development is available to anyone with enough time, energy, and enthusiasm. With an emphasis on the most basic web skills relevant for years to come, this guide helps you get comfortable with the fundamentals of running a writing business or promoting yourself online.

This book also puts power and responsibility in the hands of you, the writer. Get Known Before the Book Deal empowers you to take charge of your writing careers and partner equally with agents, editors and publishers, instead of waiting to be discovered. With an emphasis on synergizing with other writers, editors, agents, association officers, booksellers, and in-house marketing people, you’ll be better prepared for authorship.

If you’re a totally unknown writer, this book will show you how to steadily increase your reach and visibility around topics that are most appropriate for your knowledge and expertise, with clear instruction in the basics of self-publicity and readership development. Introverts like to think they are exempt from self-promotion, so author Christina Katz shows all personality types how to become visible, how to thrive in the competitive marketplace.

Here’s what others’ say about Get Known:

“Every day I tell writers, ‘Build your platform!’ They ask, ‘How?’ Now I can point them in the right direction, to Christina Katz’s excellent guide to platform-building.” —Eric Maisel, author of Creativity for Life and A Writer’s Space.

“Christina Katz’s no-nonsense guide to building an author platform is a shot in the arm, a kick in the pants, and a bracing dose of reality, not to mention chock full of sage advice, invaluable resources, and buckets of encouragement.”  —Hallie Ephron, author of Never Tell a Lie and 1,001 Books for Every Mood.

Author Bio:

Christina Katz is author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build anCK3 Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She works on incremental writing career development with one hundred students a year and is the publisher of the e-zine Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs, Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writers on the Rise.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

What are you doing to figure out your personal strengths and get known? If you have started, please give us a list of what you have done and how you prepared. If you have not yet started, tell us how you will prepare and what you will do. And have fun with this because platform development should be/sound fun to you!

And P.S. I’d especially like to hear from my former students on this because I know that many of you can provide a great example. So, don’t worry if you already have the book or not. Just please share the wealth!

Give me the goods in 50-200 words, please. 🙂

Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. 🙂


33 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Thirteen”

  1. 1 jessicavarin September 13, 2009 at 1:03 am

    I’ve discovered that I really enjoy doing readings. For practice and platform building, I’ve begun recording my poetry and posting it to my website. I practice reading and sound editing by performing the poetry of writers I admire. This is improving my public speaking. Listening to myself read also helps me tweak the tone and style of my writing.

    Here’s my first attempt:

  2. 2 Kathryn Lang September 13, 2009 at 1:56 am

    What are you doing to figure out your personal strengths and get known?

    Discovering my personal strengths has been the easiest – although it is an ongoing process as I continue to grow and stretch and expand into new areas. I sat down and made a list and asked those that knew me best (and even a few that knew me least) what they thought. It has been enlightening. Now I can share those strengths and also the journey that has led me to those strengths.

    Getting known has been the struggle for me but I am getting there as well. I started out only applying for writing jobs and waiting for people to offer me opportunities. Now I aggressively seek those opportunities.

    1. When a blogger that I enjoyed reading wrote that she had been sick I offered to step in and provide her with some guest blogs until she felt better. That relationship has led to an opportunity to speak at an online women’s conference in October – A Woman Inspired.

    2. When a blog started up for local writers, I wrote and offered to provide a guest post. She requested a regular column. It is helping to build my local audience and opening opportunities to provide speaking and teaching engagements.

    3. When a new, local paper launched, I called and asked if they were accepting freelance pieces. A few talks, a sample article and a link to my websites had me a weekly column with the option of feature articles as well.

    I know that each one of these bold steps has helped me to build a stronger platform and I think that I am now ready to begin writing my book proposal to send out to agents and maybe even a few regional publishers.

    On a side note – these questions have helped me to refocus on my writing career and where I am heading with it. Thank you!

  3. 3 jennifer September 13, 2009 at 5:07 am

    I guess the first things I did to get known was follow the old advice “know thyself.” Zreoing in on my area of expertise and what things I could pursue with passion each day has helped immesnely. My next baby step was to starting blogging (which had the added benefit helping me get to know my audience, come to think of it). Writing a book proposal, relentless pitching, and constant querying helped me land some writing gigs while helping me to refine my ideas at the same time. My greatest challenge is finding time to fit in both the getting known and the writing projects. Right now I have a lot of ideas for next steps, let’s just say my platform is poised to grow…

  4. 4 Kim September 13, 2009 at 5:20 am

    I don’t even know what exactly a “platform” entails so I guess my first step will be to win this book or go out and buy it. Either way I see this as a win-win situation. I am a former teacher turned stay at home mom who feels like I need to do something more with my life yet I don’t want to go back to the classroom. To prepare for this life change, I have started a blog as a place to explore new career options. In doing so, I have discovered that I would like to pursue a writing career.

  5. 5 Meryl Evans September 13, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I contacted a diversity of people: clients, colleagues, etc. and asked them what they believed my specialty was. I phrased the question in a way to show that I wanted to give them more of specialty content.

    It didn’t go well. Received a lot of feedback on my personality and writing style — not much on the topics I cover. I admit I don’t have a niche as I love the diversity of work I do.

    Maybe my tagline should be “The spaghetti writer.” She writes about whatever sticks 😉

  6. 6 Joyce Lansky September 13, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I try to get known through being active on Twitter and blogging. Unfortunately, I don’t blog nearly enough and do not seem to have a lot of blog traffic. I have only one blog follower and people rarely comment on my posts. 😦 But you can cheer me up with a post: 🙂

    I am very well know on the Midsouth Listserv because I add a lot of comments to the discussion–hopefully well received. I’ve also been a consistent participant in #kidlitchat on Tuesday nights 8 central time.

    I’ve written several short stories for magazines but haven’t queried as much as I need to. Sometimes I feel the only way to get known in the writing community would be to quit the day job. Unfortunately, I need the income.

  7. 7 Cat September 13, 2009 at 8:30 am

    What are you doing to figure out your personal strengths and get known? Hmmm. I have to say, not as much as I need to. I’ve got a bare bones website up, and am waiting on my full design to get blogging, but that might just be procrastination. I struggle with the platform idea because I think I write about everything, and can’t get myself to focus in on a few specialty areas. It feels limiting, though I know it would be useful to define myself in that way. And it would make it easier to answer that conference question, What do you write about?

  8. 8 Amy Hudock September 13, 2009 at 8:58 am

    When I first decided to develop myself as a creative writer, I helped form a real-time writing group that became a virtual one – that eventually became a website featuring writing about motherhood, Literary Mama. When we were ready, we created a “best of” anthology from the site, which we were able to sell to a publisher because we could demonstrate a platform from which to sell the book. Also, many of our writers and editors have used Literary Mama as a launch pad for their own published books. So, I agree with Christine on the importance of developing a platform.

    That platform has also helped me develop a reputation that helps me sell my own writing. I’m a single mom professor, and my responsibilities keep me from writing as much as I would like, but when I do send something out, it is usually accepted. And I know that comes from having developed a reputation as an easy writer to work with. I meet deadlines, make requested edits immediately and without question, and do favors for other writers and editors. So reputation matters.

    In fact, I’ve served as a “midwife” to many other writers in my roles of editor, teacher, and writing group member, and I think this has been the best way of building a good reputation. I am part of a network of committed and caring mother writers that help each other. But what is so cool is that helping others actually helps me, too. If I were only in it for myself and saw other mother writers as competitors, I wouldn’t have been able to publish what I have so far. I want to support all mother writers because it helps all of us.

  9. 9 Cara Holman September 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

    It didn’t take me long to discover that my preferred niche is what I loosely define as slice-of-life writing. And the best way I can think of to get known is to get published in anthologies and zines that specialize in this type of writing. To that end, I have been diligently writing and submitting this year, with some very positive results. Just this morning, I was delighted to open the special Komen section of The Oregonian to discover that they had published my lessons from cancer story.

    This was also the year I was brought fully into the 21st century, when I began to utilize some the technology out there for networking. My son informs me that I am addicted to my computer. Perhaps that’s true. But between creating a personal blog to introduce myself and give links to my writings, to using Facebook, Twitter, and email to correspond with and follow other writers, I think I can safely say that my web presence has grown astronomically in the past year. A Google search of my name now nets over 50 hits. In this day and age of technology, that’s just got to count for something!

  10. 10 Carrie Ure September 13, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I’m having a ball doing my platform development.

    I started last summer while reading Writer Mama and taking Christina’s class, Writing and Selling the Short Stuff. I also worked with memoirist Jennifer Lauck. I learned that my strengths are developing creative, unique ideas and writing in many styles and genres. So I’ve come back to Christina and Platform 101 this summer. Now I am learning to choose a niche and stick with it to develop an expertise in one area. I am learning to organize myself around my specialty. I am beginning to think like an author by nurturing a focus, a lens through which I filter the world and my thoughts. This gives me confidence and what feels like more control over my future. Rather than having many unrelated ideas to distract me and drain my energy, I am beginning to go deeper, enjoy the process of research and attract new opportunities.

    It really works. I know that I will succeed.

  11. 11 Teri Y September 13, 2009 at 10:16 am

    What are you doing to figure out your personal strengths and get known?

    Though I have not completed my book yet, I am getting a start on building my platform and audience so when I do publish, and I have every faith that I will, I will already have an audience. I feel this will be great to bring to the table of the publisher that I will actively participate in promoting my book. So far I’ve done the following:

    – I’ve completed a questionnaire that helped me to brand not only my book but myself as an author, to really know what and who I’m promoting

    – Actively particpate through social networking to get known, i.e. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

    – Volunteer at book events, getting to know the people who put them on, especially if it’s a literary agency

    – Attend writer conferences, meet agents, editors, fellow writers and pass out a business card that has my picture, name of book, genre and website address for my book splash page

    And this is just the start! (-;

  12. 12 Beth Cato September 13, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’m introverted, so it’s not always easy to make myself known. I follow various newsgroups and blogs online, and I make an effort to join conversations or post excerpts of my writing. When NaNoWriMo starts, I make a few posts on the forums, too – such as the genre, region, or stay-at-home-mom threads – and mention who I am and link back to my blog. My publications always include a bio paragraph that links to my web site. It works. My blog followers have jumped up quite a bit in the past year, and I’ve had complimentary emails/messages arrive from total strangers.

    I do need to give out more business cards, though. I bought a big stack for a writers’ conference last year and gave out a grand total of four. When I sold copies of an anthology last year, I autographed the title page and used my business card to bookmark the location of my story.

  13. 13 Rene Eyerly September 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Since I am just getting started, I am in the platform brainstorm and development phase. Certainly working with Christina in the Platform 101 class and reading “Getting Known..” have been immeasurably helpful so far. Thanks! Commitment to my ideas is one thing, but now I feel much more focused on my niche and how to get started marketing. My audience is horse-lovers and animal advocates, and its taken me some time to hone my central themes and identify what makes me unique. My motivation and inspiration are at an all time high right now. And thank you all for the posts today. Its so interesting to hear what is working for others. Kathryn, the specificity in your post was particularly revealing for me.

  14. 14 chloe September 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I have not started.
    I am only now getting an understanding that being published requires a lot more than just–and I use ‘just’ flippantly–writing.
    I think I have a good idea what my personal strengths are, but also that they will change as my hours of writing accumulate and I learn different aspects of the craft of writing in classes and workshops.
    I have read at open mikes and liked it, and I would like to have parts of the memoir I am writing published in magazines, before submitting it for publication. Although that may be a catch 22, as one needs to be known before getting published in magazines.

  15. 15 Beth Vogt September 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I connected with Rob Eagar. I finished a six month mentorship with Rob. He helped me define my audience–it actually expanded instead of getting more narrow–and also reworked my Web site. He helped me rework my speaking topics and got me ready for radio interviews and for sending out press releases. Rob knows his stuff–and know I feel like I know what I need to do too!

  16. 16 freelancerforhire September 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I have only recently began “marketing” myself as a writer. I have joined countless social networking sites such as BlogHer, Mom Bloggers Club, Twitter Moms, etc. I also finally signed up for a Twitter account since it is apparently one of the best ways to network and promote yourself in this day and age (that’s how I was reminded to enter here and for your scholarship). I have also started my own writing blog ( and added some great offers to my professional writer’s page ( in hopes of generating some “buzz”.

  17. 17 Kristine September 13, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    In the six months, my youngest “baby” has gone to 1st grade (leaving me with more time to write and a bittersweet hole in my heart), I’ve started a writer’s blog, joined Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and sent out queries or essays almost everyday, in hopes of relaunching my former writing career (before I stayed home with kids). I’ve set up an office, made business cards, and begged my husband to become my accountant. Now, the hard part starts: how do I explain who I am and what service I can deliver?

    I write.

    You gave me advice a few months back. “Why don’t you take some time to be a generalist before you become a specialist? Publish your articles before you send in your non-fiction book proposal?”

    And so I’m doing exactly that, toiling away everyday at the computer, writing, writing, writing…

    So that someday, I’ll be known before the book deal.

  18. 18 Shannon Pace September 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    As a mother of three, when I finally had the epiphany that starving my writing self contributes to existential unhappiness, I carved out a weekly day devoted to writing. My writing Thursdays have been in motion for over a year and very productive in rediscovering my strengths. Soon after, I had part II of the epiphany, which was that hide-out writing is not so fulfilling (writing with no readers)and so I began taking steps to come out into the artistic light. Here is what I’ve done so far:

    1) First, I started a blog, which provides me with loose, self-imposed deadlines so that I have finished pieces and it connects me with readers. I furthermore post my link on Facebook whenever I have finished a new piece(

    2) Next, I’ve been attending readings at bookstores again (something I haven’t done since my MFA days). At my first reading in a while, for Sage Cohen’s new book, _Writing the Life Poetic_,I introduced myself to Sage at the end of the reading, for some small writer’s chat. I found our brief conversation so fruitful, I’ve decided I will make this a new practice — to not only attend readings but take the extra step of introducing myself.

    3) Also, when serendipity led me to an essay contest on an airplane, I not only crafted and entered my essay into the contest, but now have the new goal of consistently being at work on a piece for entry into a contest. This added practice will keep me writing more finished pieces and if I win, a little money in the pocket, and a little recognition as a writer, is always a blessing.

    4) Furthermore, I have been actively searching for and discovering new links for writers, such as, which led me to this particular contest and ultimately to “thewritermama” blog. Wherever possible, I sign up to receive updates on writer’s blogs, as well add my name to any lists that serve to inform me of writer’s events and inspirations. This practice keeps me connected with a larger writing community and leads to opportunities of becoming known in new writing circles.

    5) Finally, I resubscribed to “Poets and Writers” magazine. Reading this magazine is a small challenge to me to reenter the writing world, engage in current writing conversations, and as a bonus, in the back, I find fabulous resources for submitting work, entering contests, writer’s grants, etc.

  19. 19 Krysten H September 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    My goal is to work on building a platform. I have written for publications (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.) to get my name out there and have also been doing book reviews for the same reason. Doing author interviews has also been a great way to get advice, help other writers, and build a platform for myself. Blogging is also something I’ve started and begun to enjoy.

  20. 20 coffeejitters (Judy Haley) September 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I’m currently in school. I’m working on a degree in entrepreneurship through a distance degree program because 1.) I cant afford daycare, even with low income subsidies, 2.) I chose entrepreneurship because I’m more confident aobut my writing skills than my ability to run a small business, and lets face it, that’s what we do as writers, and 3.) the distance degree program also gives me practice in deadline management and interacting with others remotely, which is also what I will be doing if I have a freelance writing career that I operate from home.

    My personal strengths – I have learned through my online classes that I can juggle a baby and deadlines, I am more resilient than I ever imagined, and I have a voracious quest for knowledge that makes research actually fun for me.

  21. 21 writethejourney September 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I would say platform development is my next step. During the past year and a half I’ve had some success publishing articles regionally. For the next year I plan to do more of the same with an eye toward finding a specialization. I’m also sticking my toes into the waters of personal essays.

    I plan build on my newbie Web presence–namely my blog and Facebook–but don’t plan to launch my own Web site until my list of published pieces is longer and I have a niche.

  22. 22 Melissa Taylor September 13, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    First, I read and did the assessment from Gallop & Tom Rath called Strengths Finder. That helped point me in the direction of freelance writing. Then, journaling and asking friends.

    I’ve been juggling many balls and seeing what “sticks” – which seems to be focusing on my experience in education. I created a blog,, which is taking off and “sticking” – I’m growing the blog and using social media to get known through my blog and freelancing.

    Thanks for the contest.

    Melissa Taylor

  23. 23 Brianne A September 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I HAVE to get this book if I don’t win it. I’m new to this and have a lot to learn about building my platform. I plan to start self-promoting by starting a blog, by networking on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and by getting involved in other writers’ blogs.

    To figure out what my personal strengths are, I’ve done a lot of self exploration. I used the book, Pathfinder, and I’ve also taken many personal inventory questionnaires. In order to discover what my personal strengths are in writing, I believe that I need to practice, practice, practice.

  24. 24 Sarah Joyce Bryant September 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I have been focused on writing creative nonfiction but have done mostly memoir rather than strictly nonfiction. I would like to work more in the nonfiction field but have not quite figured out where my personal strength is so that I can develop it into a platform. I have thought about posting a few pieces on my blog or possibly starting a new blog with some nonfiction and gauge their success. I suffer from a lack of confidence that what I have to say is important or not been said before a million times. So, my first step towards preparing is to get over my lack of confidence and just put myself out there.

  25. 25 Mar Junge, c3PR September 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I bought a copy of “Get Known” on spike day last year and have used it several times to help my clients figure out their personal strengths. One of my clients was determined to write a book that she really was not qualified to write. Fortunately, I was able to use chapters straight from Christina’s book to help point her in the right direction. There are many ways to use GKBTBD than before a book deal. For example, we’ve used it to pinpoint our clients’ personal “selling points,” to help us promote them as keynote speakers at industry conferences and write better speeches for them. As for using it to identify my personal strengths, perhaps it’s identifying the strengths of others.

  26. 26 Daree Allen September 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    In short: I network with speakers and authors like yourself, and I internalize constructive feedback on my blog postings.

    Several people at church are affiliated with a local college here, so I have been talking to them about ways to speak to the students there.

    I’m a Toastmaster but not a professional speaker, so I took a district officer position and a club officer position, which both push me to network on various levels to get an idea of what other people interested in professional speaking are doing. A local Toastmasters International club is also a great place to give and get feedback on your speaking skills.

    I use Linkedin to connect with other writers and authors that I see in discussion groups I’m subscribed to.

    I also like to pass out cards to people that I find that they often don’t know that I write (I am a technical writer, and I also like to journal and blog), so that they can spread the word. I already have a cheesecake site, so I’m known as “The Cheesecake Lady” but I want a different persona now.

  27. 27 Lara September 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I’ve been working on the whole “platform building” thing, but hadn’t really come at it from the personal strengths angle before. My approach thus far towards getting known has been to: blog, speak, and publish my own monthly newsletter. Of the three, speaking and the newsletter are growing the most. I absolutely love public speaking and find that it’s a good match for writing. I can write about the topics I speak on (incorporating audience feedback) and I can enhance my presentations with information from research done in my writing. There’s a real synergy between the two tasks.

    I also decided recently to focus more on magazine writing for a while to build publishing credits.

    After reading the comments here, I’m quite interested in spending time thinking through my strengths and seeing how I can capitalize on them in my platform-building efforts.

  28. 28 Carol J. Alexander September 13, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Wow. “Platform” was this mysterious word that kept coming up in articles I was reading. But I never really quite ‘got it’ until you, Christina, wrote an article in WD that caught my eye. After reading that, I was on my way. So far, I have designed a web site primarily for refering editors to. I have also started a blog. After two months I have four registered followers and average about six hits per day. I put these url’s in the signature line of all my e-mail correspondence. I also have been forcing myself out of my shell to talk to people about my writing. I actually exchanged e-mail addresses with a woman at a party this weekend. I used to work with her at a local radio station many years ago. I knew she had written a couple local history books more recently, so I overcame my shyness and was glad I did.

  29. 29 Fawn September 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I have been seeking out local people “in the biz”, but really need to spend more time on that and make it a focus. I also need to make an effort to reach out to more of my former college classmates who were (and hopefully still are) writers.

    I’ve started a blog, which is more of an article-type blog than a writer or mommy blog. It’s proven to be a great space to vet out article ideas. In October, I will have my first piece in a local parenting mag, and the editor was nice enough to let me include a short bio with a link to my blog. This is my “go public” date for the blog, so in the meantime, I’ve been sharing it little by little and getting feedback. (it’s – I’d love to have feedback from Writer Mama blog readers!)

    I spend a bit of time on facebook. I’m afraid to start twittering, just because of time commitments.

    That’s pretty much where my efforts end right now. So, I really need to win (or buy) this book!

  30. 30 brigidday September 13, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    My platform is, as of yet, not formed. I blog, and comment on blogs. I participate in a few writer’s groups, which have proven to be invaluable for building confidence. I use Facebook to network, and have tinkered with Twitter.

    I need to concentrate on getting out there more. I have a few leads that I need to pursue, but continue to seek out leads as I go. I hope to enroll in an on-line class, and to continue to enter contests. I would love to attend a conference to observe, participate, and network. Oh, and your book would fit nicely in my writing library.

  1. 1 Day Thirteen: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 14, 2009 at 8:49 am
  2. 2 Day Fourteen: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 15, 2009 at 8:38 am
  3. 3 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 22, 2009 at 8:50 am
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