Positive Writer

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Interview with Joe Bunting about Creative Writing, Building a Platform and Story Cartel

Today I am pleased to introduce Joe Bunting, the founder of the blog The Write Practice with 75,000 readers, author of an Amazon #1 Bestseller, and founder and teacher of the game changing Story Cartel online writing course for creative writers who want to build a successful and useful platform.

Joe Bunting Interview

Joe, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Of course, Bryan. Thank you!

I’d like to start off with the first question everyone who has tried to build a platform wants to know: How did you get 75,000 monthly readers for The Write Practice?

Good question, and one I’m not sure I can answer. So much of building something that becomes successful is based on luck, but there are definitely things you can do to create an environment where luck breeds.

The first thing you can do to build your platform is to start. This sounds obvious, but the truth is that it takes a long time for readers, other bloggers, and search engines to “get to know you.” I worked harder the first six months I started The Write Practice than I’ve ever worked in my life, but the traffic then pales in comparison to what it is now.

Likewise, you need to be consistent. We have posted six or more blogs a week on The Write Practice, while also guest posting frequently, for two and a half years. Blog posts are like seeds. You scatter them liberally because you don’t know which ones will bear fruit. We have one post that generates 10 percent of our traffic, but if you had told me what it would become when we published it, I would have thought you were crazy.

If you work with the long view in mind, being consistent and working hard now, you’re work will bear fruit.

Do you believe 75,000 monthly readers are attainable for anyone?

Well, you have to be able to write coherently (but not necessarily well). You have to be able to make friends and allies within the blogging world (but not necessarily be outgoing). You have to be hardworking (but not necessarily naturally talented).

Not everyone will do all of those things, I suppose, but everyone can do all of those things.

What’s the objective of the Story Cartel course, is it a writing course or about how to build a platform for creative writers?

What I’ve discovered is that the best way for creative writers to build their platform is actually through their creative writing. Most of the advice about platform building is directed to non-fiction writers, but building a platform for your young adult novel, for example, is completely different than building one for a business self-help book. Unfortunately, most of the creative writers who have tried to build their platform in the last couple of years have been wasting their time because they’ve been following the wrong advice.

With the Story Cartel Course, we want to completely change the way creative writers approach platform, and to do that, we get to spend a lot of time actually doing the writing they care about most. To answer your question, then, it’s both a writing course and a platform course.

What’s different about creating a platform for non-fiction authors and fiction authors?

What many fiction authors have done, myself included, is start writing blogs sharing tips about the writing craft and publishing world.

But when I’ve talked to other fiction authors who have large writing blogs, writers like Joanna Penn and Holly Lisle, they’ve told me their blog readers rarely buy their fiction. Interestingly enough, building an audience of other writers by writing non-fiction articles isn’t a great platform for your fiction.

In the Story Cartel Course, we teach that your stories build your platform, and the best way to build your platform is to publish your next story.

In the description of your Story Cartel course you mention an agreement among competitors, tell us a little about that. Why would we want to be in partnership with our competitors?

I like to think about a platform as crowdsurfing. Crowdsurfing is like a stage made out of people. It requires mutual trust between the person up above and the people holding them up. Platform is like that. J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are held up by the power of millions of readers’ trust and attention. They have a platform because of the people who love (or hate!) them.

A Cartel, by definition, is an agreement among competitors. It’s a crowd who could decide to fight each other, but instead agrees to hold each other up, to let its members crowdsurf. You can’t crowdsurf on your own, and you can’t create a platform on your own. So you build a Cartel, and you say, “We’ll hold you up if you hold us up when it’s our turn.” That way we all get to see the view from on top, if only for a moment.

As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (Tweet This)

Can you share a few success stories about authors who have taken your course?

Since opening the first class, seven months ago, three authors have been offered publishing deals, a dozen have launched books, and many have come out of the closet and decided to show their writing to their friends and family.

Most of all, people just gain a sense of confidence. I think that’s what happens when you know you have a team of other writers whom you respect watching your back.

Is there any level of expertise needed for taking the course?

We’ve had members as young as 13 and as old as 82. Writers who have published multiple books with traditional publishers and others who have just gotten started. Nearly everyone can make steps to improve their writing and nearly everyone needs to learn how to build their Cartel, especially in this changing publishing landscape when more of the work is falling on writers. The course helps people build their team.

Is there a timeline for signing up for the Story Cartel course or are signups available at any time?

We only open the course for a few days every quarter. Those who are interested simply need to sign up to be notified when the course is open for registration.

Great having you, Joe! I know the Story Cartel course is making a difference.

If you’re interested in signing up for the Story Cartel Course, you can do so here.

Have you built a platform for your writing? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • themagicviolinist

    I can personally vouch for both “The Write Practice” and the “Story Cartel.” Joe has done such an amazing job with these two sites. There’s no way I’d be where I am now in the blogging world if it weren’t for Joe’s willingness to mentor me in my writing. 🙂

    • I’d say Joe’s done one heck of a job, because you’re doing awesome MV!!

      • I think she’s doing most of that on her own. 🙂

  • Great interview Bryan. It was informative and comfortable. Like we were listening in on a chat between two friends.

  • kathunsworth

    Joe and Bryan I enjoyed the interview and hoping to do this course next year. I have a bit too much on my plate until 2014 but look forward to learning more about this.

    • The good news is that Joe opens the course quarterly, Kath. Glad you enjoyed the interview. 🙂