But the fact of the matter is, there's no real choice. Some writers like to write just for themselves - and more power to them. But I'm one of those writers who actually wants to be read. And in order to that, I have to have a public platform.
When I talk with my students about the bio portion of a query letter someone inevitably says, "But I don't have anything to say in my bio." Most writers starting out are doing just that - starting - which means they haven't been published anywhere. So how can you talk yourself up without having a six-figure novel-soon-to-be-blockbuster-movie contract? You build yourself your own platform. Here are some easy steps:
1. Write a blog. Hey! What a great idea! Even better, include it in your Linked In, Facebook, and/or Twitter accounts. This is a great grassroots method of increasing your profile in the writing world.
Good: "I blog writing tips on my website at joycedoyle.com."
Bad: "My mom really likes my blog, and all her friends read it too."
2. Go to workshops. Meet agents and editors - or at least go to their presentations and (for God's sake) pay attention to what they say. Your platform can include your attendance there, but only if you have a specific reference.
Good: "I heard you speak at the MWPA in May and I think my novel will tie right in with your interest in paranormal romances for senior citizens."
Bad: "I took a creative writing class in high school and my teacher said I was really good."
3. Pitch short articles to the local newspaper, regional magazines, and professional journals. These publications are often looking for filler pieces that don't take a lot of your time to research. They're not going to pay a lot, but you do get to reference your publication and call yourself a freelance writer.
Good:"My writing has appeared in The Writer, Northwest Travel Magazine and Voice of Youth Advocates."
Bad: "I always write a holiday newsletter for my family that's a big hit."
The point is, if you're a writer looking to get published you need to prove that you're worthy. And one of the best ways - aside from writing an amazing novel - is to have a writer's profile. Most agents say the first thing they do when they read a new author's manuscript that has potential, is Google that author. What are they going to find about you?