The Godfather’s Secret to Building Your Platform on Twitter

This is a sample lesson from the Twitter Challenge Pack. If you’d like to join the course and get more, in depth lessons on growing your audience, building your platform, and selling more books on Twitter, you can sign up for the course here. Enjoy the lesson!

I love Tumblr, I love Twitter. I love talking with people I find interesting about stuff I find interesting, and the Internet is a great way to do that. —John Green (@realjohngreen), author of The Fault of Our Stars

Twitter fascinates me because it’s real. It feels kind of unreal, but it makes very real things happen. —Amanda Palmer (@AmandaPalmer)

Listen to this audio lesson:


The word Cartel means, “An agreement among competitors.” Competitors. There’s an interesting word for writers, for storytellers.

We call ourself Story Cartel because we could choose to compete against each other. We could see the world and all of its readers like a big pie to be divided up into regions and territories, genres and publishing houses. Or we could do something radical, rebellious even. We could form a Cartel, a guild, an agreement, and together we could bake a much bigger pie.


Photo by Martin Thomas

Cartels, like Platforms, are all about trust. If you’re generous with the Cartel, the Cartel will be generous with you. But if you betray the Cartel? Well, go watch The Godfather and find out…

Most of the Great Writers Had Cartels

I’m fascinated by Cartel based thinking because when I look back at the great writers of history, nearly all of them had their own Cartel.

J.R.R. Tolkien had The Inklings, his group of Oxford intellectuals that included C.S. Lewis who would meet at the pub, sip beer, and read their stories aloud.

Virginia Woolf had the Bloomsbury Group, a tightly knit group (they were famous for sleeping around with each other) that included E.M. Forrester and John Maynard Kenyes (the most influential economist of the 20th century).

Ernest Hemingway had his Paris expatriates, the group so enthusiasticly portrayed in Midnight In Paris. When he met James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, he wrote in his journal that they were writers who “could help a young writer up the rungs of a career.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, also in that group, helped inspire Hemingway’s first novel, breakout bestseller The Sun Also Rises.

Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Jack Kerouac, these great writers all had Cartels. Their Cartels inspired them and helped them establish their careers. Their Cartels, in many ways, were their platforms.

Now, It’s Your Turn

It’s time for you to start building your Cartel. You need a group of other artists who will support you. You need a group of people who will share your writing with their friends, who will recommend new books to you, who will critique your writing, who will tell you the truth. You need a Cartel.

And one of the best tools to start building your Cartel is Twitter. Why? Because Twitter is short and public. Twitter is a cocktail party. You can discover another writer’s personality and ideas. You can easily approach anyone on Twitter to start a conversation.

Twitter is more than a networking tool. It’s a relationship building tool.

I chose the quote from Amanda Palmer above because I think it shows a surprising side of Twitter. You think it’s unreal, all about followers and retweets and clicks. Then you discover it’s about something much deeper than that. It’s about influence.

The Secret To Building a Cartel

Speaking of The Godfather, have you ever seen it? If not, what’s wrong with you. Go watch that movie. In fact, go watch the first two because if you do, you’ll discover the secret to influence.

Vito Corleone isn’t the Godfather because people are afraid of him (although they are). He’s the Godfather because he does favors. In other words, he’s generous. The secret of influence is generosity.

So if you want people to read your tweets, read theirs. If you want people to retweet you, retweet them. If you want to get followers, follow others. As Jesus said, if you want to be great, first become a servant.

Your Assignment

With that in mind, it’s time to meet your Cartel. Remember: the checklist in the sidebar contains each of these tasks. To move on to the next level, you have to complete each task and check the box. Good luck!

1. Add your Twitter URL to your Story Cartel profile.

If you haven’t already, go edit your member profile on Story Cartel and add the link to your Twitter profile. You can edit your profile here. (Available to full course members. You can sign up here.)

2. Follow the Cartel.

Now, go the Story Cartel member directory and follow all the members of Story Cartel. If you’re ever followed by a Story Cartelista, make sure to follow them back, too. And now that you’re on this list, you’ll soon have dozens of new followers, too.

3. Post 3 tweets or more today.

Need ideas? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Give a shout out to your Cartel. Now that you’ve followed them, let the Cartel know you’re one of them by tweeting: “Honored to be part of the Cartel. Check it out at @storycartel” (tweet that)
  • Post a quote by an author you admire. Here’s an example you can share: “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou
  • Share an article you enjoyed. For example.

4. Post Your Follower Count.

How’s this going? Are you making progress toward your goal? In the comments section, share how many followers you’ve gotten compared to how many you’re aiming for. For example, “I’m at 11 new followers out of 100.” (Available to full members. Sign up here)

When you’re finished with this level’s goals, make sure to check them off in the list on your sidebar so that you can move on to the next level. We’ll see you back here soon!

Your Challenges

Read or Listen To lesson 2.
Follow the Cartel.
Add your Twitter URL to your Story Cartel profile.
Post 3 Tweets (or more) today.
Post your current follower count in the comments section for accountability.

In the full course, only once you complete each challenge and check it off can you unlock the next lesson and move on in the course.


That’s all for the sample of the Twitter Challenge Pack. Ready to join the Cartel? Get more in depth lessons on growing your audience, building your platform, and selling more books on Twitter by signing up for the course here. Thanks for reading!