Writer Unboxed has many excellent posts about the craft and business of fiction, but I especially enjoyed Jane Friedman's most recent post for writers which asks, how much time should you spend on writing versus platform building?
I posted a comment today but am going to post an edited version of it below as well:
I still think it’s possible for a new writer to get plucked out of the slush pile without a platform; I know at least one writer who got her first book contract with a major publisher this way. BUT I also believe that these days, it’s the exception rather than the norm.
I went about things in the reverse order from most writers: I created my platform long before I had something to promote. I couldn’t help myself, though — I’ve been a fan of online communities years before the term became popular.
I agree with one of Jane’s comments above, that there is no One Right Way. What works for one writer might not work for another. I even think that if a writer who is not suited for social media (and forces herself into that venue despite hating it), her so-called platform could end up hurting her chances of publication rather than helping.
Hm, and this discussion has given me a great idea for a new comic for Writer Unboxed on Saturday. :-)
For writers who want to find out more about building a platform for themselves, I encourage you to check out the posts and comments in Robert Lee Brewer's April Platform Challenge.