Get Yourself Out There. One Emerging Author's Story by Eileen Magee.

In all my years of writing, my speciality has been—keeping it to myself. Not the fact that I write—although I’m not one to make grand announcements—but that I kept all my work to myself.

Two things happened that changed this:

1) Some five years ago, I had an epiphany and realised I should write stories for children. It’s rather obvious—now, when I think about it. Besides my tendency toward anthropomorphising those who live in and above the undergrowth, I sometimes find myself watching particular children’s programs. Then there’s some of my very favourite stories…AA Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh), Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows), Jill Barklem (Brambly Hedge) and of course, May Gibbs (Snugglepot and Cuddlepie). So you see…rather obvious—if I’d been paying attention. Oddly, and surprisingly, I didn’t come across most of these favourite stories until I was all grown up—and what a revelation it was to see others thought like me!

2) Happy as I had been in my private writing world, one day, just like that…I felt inclined to put my writing ‘out there’, as they say.

To that end, I had (and still have), some work to do. As you’ll be aware (because I know you’ve read Georgie Donaghey’s blog about building your author platform), I need to build a platform. Perhaps you do too?

If you’re considering stepping on to a platform but are hindered by stage fright, let me try to entice you. I am in fact, in the throes of clambering onto said platform and have realised, it’s not as hard as it seems, nor even, as daunting. It is a bit scary, but as it’s the way to go these (technological) days, there was nothing else for it but to put my big girl pants on and get on with it! Slowly though, no need to rush.

First things first—I’ve established my genre. Excellent progress so far. I also I reinstated myself as a member of the SA Writer’s Centre after letting my membership lapse some ten (or more) years ago.

I pinned favourite websites relative to my ‘new’ genre on my desktop and visited them regularly. I ‘liked’ relevant pages on Facebook. I subscribed to a couple of newsletters. I entered some competitions.

So far, I’ve told you nothing you haven’t probably already done yourself. Read on, this is where things begin to change for me.

One of the pages I pinned to my desktop, ‘liked’ on Facebook, and whose competition I entered, was Creative Kids Tales (CKT).

Around about this time last year (September, 2015) CKT posted a message on Facebook calling for applications for an On-line Assistant. Just reading the post had me all in a tizz! Wasn’t this what I’d been looking for—an opportunity to be part of the ‘out-there’ children’s writing world, something to give me drive, direction and inspiration, could I manage the time commitment, could I indeed…be brave enough to apply? I drafted a letter. Let it sit a few days. Considered things. I felt as keen as mustard—and somewhat apprehensive. I sent my application in.

To cut a long story short, I was the successful applicant! You can imagine my glee but can also probably relate to my momentary panic. The glee, naturally won. Almost a year on, here I am—writing a blog! Who would’ve thought! No more dithering around on my own!

Over the year, I’ve been slowly adapting to my new persona. The big girl pants have done me well and I’m back in my ordinary ones now.

My platform is coming together. It’s still handy-man size. More a pallet—not quite a pedestal and certainly not yet a stage. But, as you can see, by keeping in the trade and working with the right tools, you too can start to build your platform. You could be tap-dancing on your stage before you know it! What’s that saying…From little things, big things grow.

My platform is made up of odds and sods. I have a brief (emerging) author bio with an accompanying photo (yes, you can do a bio even if you’re not published). I opened another Facebook account for the ‘writer’ me, keeping my personal page…personal (you may prefer to call yourself an ‘Author’ instead. Me, I just like the word, Writer). I’ve joined writing associations. I do behind the scenes work for CKT, chat with writers and illustrators on the Member’s Forum, keep the Members Critique Workshop group humming along, as well as contributing to the critiquing. I meet regularly with the lovely CKT Founder, Georgie Donaghey (assisted by technology and the telephone—not yet in person—we live in different states of the country).

My own blog site, apparently, is the way to go. As is a website. I’m not ready for either of these yet (nor is my time-management). If you’re not either, you can, like me, blog on the CKT Blog page instead. Also, if you’re not ready to have your own webpage, why not utilise your Profile Page on the CKT webpage to display some of your work?

What I’m trying to say, is…I think it’s one of those connection type things, like this: Years ago, my brother was setting up a business. He needed some work vans. He went to look at one—it was yellow. He would’ve preferred white but the van was in good order and a reasonable price. Later, he went to look at another…which also turned out to be yellow. The third van was…yellow. You see, once you embark on something, sometimes things just fall in to place.

So, collect the posts and blocks to put toward your platform. Keep on doing what your doing—writing, pining favourite websites to your desktop and visiting them regularly, ‘like’ relevant pages on Facebook, subscribe to a couple of newsletters and enter competitions; but add a bit more—join a critique group and writing associations, take a course or two, write a bio and take a photo, make the most out of your CKT profile page (I need to do this too). Perhaps even, write a blog for CKT!

You never know what’s just around the corner.

Best of luck to both of us!

Eileen - CKT Assistant

International Author Series - Stephan Pastis
Building Your Author Platform by Georgie Donaghey

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

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