Chip MacGregor

August 30, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: What I’ve Done to Grow My Platform


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

I’m heading to Chicon today…for those of you not in the know, Chicon (or WorldCon) is the 70th World Science Fiction Convention. Now an invitation to this event didn’t magically fall into my lap. I mean, MacGregor Literary hasn’t historically done much in the SF realm, so I’m sure we were far from making it on their “I hope they attend” list. Another interesting note, is that this event is pretty big and pulls REALLY big names (George R.R. Martin is the name I’ve been dropping right and left). So it wasn’t like getting an invite would be as easy as calling up a friend of a friend and then voila!

Nope, it was a bit more complex than that. And it involved aggressive Internet research, consistent follow up, and a willingness to do whatever, whenever.

The reason I’m explaining all of this is that agents have to build a platform, too. Or maybe it’s more of a rapport (?). But either way, we need to get our name out there so that we meet authors, so we can sign those authors, so that we get to know editors, so that we do deals with those editors and then somewhere along the line…put food on the table.

So for this week, I thought I’d share a bit about what I’m doing to build my platform.

There are lots of literary agents in publishing. I mean LOTS. And not all of them are the real deal. Some are there to scam unsuspecting authors. And most will fizzle out in a few years. So when you’re new to the business, there’s all this suspicion surrounding you. Will she last? Will she be any good? Will she actually turn deals? (In the past 12 months, Publisher’s Marketplace shows that there are eight agents who have turned 30 or more deals. That’s it. Eight. Granted, not everyone reports to Publisher’s Marketplace, but it still says something about the job).

Since becoming an agent, I’ve had to do a number of things to establish myself, aside from teaming up with a great agency and having a knack for telling people what’s wrong with their books. So, in no particular order other than the order in which they pop into my brain, here’s a baker’s dozen of what I’ve done to promote myself THIS YEAR:

  1. I’m going/will have gone/am in the process of going on 15 business trips. That’s at least 75 days spent away from the puppy and husband.
  2. I created an Amanda Luedeke – Literary Agent facebook page that I maintain as faithfully as possible.
  3. I created a “Books I Represented” Pin Board that I update when cover art is available.
  4. I blog here every Thursday (and have been doing so since January).
  5. I contribute a column to the Advanced Christian Writer publication.
  6. I’ve been interviewed on podcasts.
  7. I’ve been interviewed on blogs.
  8. I’ve Skyped in on small writing workshops.
  9. I put together a pitch letter to sell myself as a faculty member to potential conferences…and it worked.
  10. I’ve maintained my personal/professional/yet-to-be-defined Twitter account @amandaluedeke.
  11. I’ve KEYNOTED. Yes, keynoted!
  12. I’ve taught 1-3 workshops at nearly every conference I’ve attended, along with participating on panels, taking appointments, and run the occasional group critiques.
  13. I’ve networked my a$$ off. Like I said above…MacLit hadn’t done much with SF in the past. Nor have they done much with YA or Fantasy or some genres of fiction. So I’ve been blazing the trails, meeting as many editors as I possibly can on each trip, and FORCING them to be my friends. πŸ™‚

That’s it. That’s what I’ve done to grow my platform. And it’s working.

So I’m curious…what are you doing to grow yours?

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  • Must be working, Amanda. I haven’t run into anyone who gives a blank stare when your name comes up, at least not in my writing circles. Eventually all the work reaches critical mass.

  • Ok, so I had a comment published here, then tried to leave a reply and log in with FB, then logged out, and my comment went POOF! No clue what happened to it.

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    “…and FORCING them to be my friends.”
    Love it! πŸ™‚ I love seeing all that you’re doing because it inspires me to do more. I’m trying to be a good girl social media-wise and in addition to my own blog, I’ve been doing guest spots here and there. But I know I can do more!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I always feel I can do more, too. But if we just keep working at it, we’ll see results. πŸ™‚

  • Kay Shostak says:

    Your pinterest pin board inspired me to make a board of images that would fit the images in my mind for Chancey, GA, the town where my book “Next Stop, Chancey” is set. I think it’s really going to be fun and provide a kick start to writing when I need one. Already folks on facebook are excited about it so I believe it can be an effective platform builder. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Great info on how much it takes to get your name out. 15 business trips! Ouch. From this posting, I’ll just bet a few of us out here are feeling a tad inadequate. I know I am. Time to get back on my hamster wheel. πŸ™‚

  • Iola says:

    That 30 deals figure – is that agents who have done 30 deals this year? Or in their career?

  • Amy Young says:

    I’ve made business cards and book marks that I hand out, had my blog updated, been guest posting some, consistently posting and submitting to agents on a regular basis. It’s working slowly … but I’d like it to go faster πŸ™‚

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I’ve been working at building my platform and getting my name out there for two years. I think I’ve just now reached a point where people “know” about me. It is a long process, for sure.

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