Platform without product

We all know we need a platform, but how do you do that when you don't have a product yet? When there is no book to promote? You've got a blog, but now what do you do with it? 

Computer cats are cute, but rarely helpful

The Don'ts
This cat doesn't care about you word count
First, let me give my two cents on what you shouldn't talk about. Your writing. Honestly, there are thousands of blogs out there run by pre-published authors (Oh, hi there *waves*). So many of them focus on the author's own journey toward publication. I made that same mistake myself when I started this blog almost three years ago. This may have worked ten years ago when the behind the scenes of an author being shared publicly was a novelty, but not anymore. 

I'm gonna lay down some hard truth here. No one cares where you are in the drafting process or that you've hit a plotting snag. Unless you have  books out and people are actively waiting for the next one, no one cares about your word count. I'm not saying you don't have friends that care about your progress. But the masses (which I'm assuming you would like to come visit your site) do not. 

The Dos
Here are a few ideas for things you can write about on your blog before you have a shiny book to share with the world.

Give me a topic, any topic
Subject specific
Write science fiction? Create a platform that talks about all the sciency goodness you love. You could focus on new advances in technology, your favorite comic books, fan cultures like Star Trek or Star Wars, or your favorite genre books. This can work with any genre or subject. Write romance, talk about modern day love stories, your favorite romance novels, ways to improve your relationships, etc. The options are limitless.

If you write across genres then consider talking about subjects in your age group. This is especially helpful if you write in the MG or YA market. Talk about news that is relevant to your age of reader.

Book reviews
This is a controversial issue among authors. The question is always how to handle reviews for books that you really just didn't like. So here's a not so controversial answer. Only review books that you like. If you didn't love something, then don't review it. If you accepted the book for review from an author or publisher and don't like it, then quietly (and privately) tell them that you can't give it a good review. Since you can pick your own genre to review, you can build up a familiarity with readers who you know like what you write and have grown to trust your opinion.

If you don't want the pressure of being a full-time book blogger then don't accept books from others.
What do we have going on over here? It's news!

Simply review or discuss whatever you are reading. A book doesn't have to be new and shiny to be in the spotlight. You can always highlight the books that you loved growing up or that made a difference in your life.

The industry
What is going on in the world of publishing? Lots, and the scenery is constantly changing so you have plenty of options here. You can focus in on news about a certain genre or even branch out into an age group. Share tips on new developments that will help authors such as the Amazon pre-sale option, or discuss reader focused developments like new subscription services. With news constantly flying out of so many sources, not to mention exciting conferences and book awards, there is no shortage of material here.

According to this, the internet loves cats
Before you get cranky, let me clarify that talking about yourself is not the same as talking about your writing. I'm suggesting you blog about the you that lives on the other side of your computer screen. What other hobbies do you have that readers might find interesting? Do you have a gazillion funny stories? Tell us. Is your life one series of hi-jinx after another, can't wait to hear about it. You are in interesting person. You have stories. You are a story teller. So tell the stories that are really happening. If you don't know where to start, I highly recommend checking out The Bloggess. She's got a bit of a potty mouth, but, in my opinion, no one does the personal blog better.

In conclusion
There isn't a magic science behind creating a successful blog. You might have to go through a few iterations until you get it right. Lord knows this is not the same blog I started out with. And that's okay. Everyone is still figuring this out, even me. So give something a try. If it doesn't work, then try something else. 

And...if you hate it. As in you absolutely dread updating your blog, then stop doing it. Seriously, stop blogging. You can always create a static website for your readers once you have a book out. Don't let the hype of "Get a Platform Now" force you to do something that is only going to drain your creative energy and push you further away from your publication goals.

Find what makes you happy and do it!