People who are trying to get published often talk about the need to have a platform. This is especially important for new writers who have had nothing published before, or in other words: writers like me.
A platform is basically a follow-ship of people who would likely buy your books. There are different kinds of platforms, but since the only way I can build a platform in America is by using the internet, I'll skip the talking at conferences, teach courses and such.
What are my optioins?
A blog. A nice feature in a blog is the follow button so that both the writer and possible agents/publishers can see how many are following your blog. It's important to keep blogging, every day or at least a few times a week and keep at it. People won't continue following you if you stop blogging for a long time.
You can write articles and/or short stories and have them published on a popular website/blog/ezine (online magazine). If you can do a number of these, eventually people will know who you are and might follow you on your blog. If you get to publish on a big, famous site then you could possibly mention it in a query letter.
You can create Facebook and Myspace, and any other follower-related accounts. Ten thousand followers on Facebook would be an impressive platform, though you'd have to be very witty and clever to build that kind of a follow-ship. I personally prefer Facebook (it's what all Icelanders and their grandma have - yes, my 78 year old grandmother is very active on Facebook), but I have created a MySpace page as well.
You can join writer-related chat forums and be active in the discussions. I recently joined She Writes, a community for female writers. I'm still getting into it, but they have excellent tips, discussions, and groups. I don't know if I'll join more communities since an awful lot of time is going into blogging and reading writing-related material on the internet.
And then you can use Twitter. Dum-Dee-Dum. Twitter is a tool I just cannot understand. I created an account earlier this week, but it looks like a jungle to me. I just don't see the point in Twitter. I much rather prefer Facebook. I was excited to get my first follower on Twitter though (I'm TessyQuin there), and I'm sure that, in time, I will be able to figure this Twitter thing out. Some people seem to be addicted and "tweet" many times a day. I suppose I'll have to alt-tab there every hour or so and try to say something clever.
All of these are tools I need to keep active to build my online platform.
What are you doing to build a platform? Do you have many followers yet?