You hear about it EVERYWHERE… “You have to have a platform to succeed in self-publishing.” But what does it really mean and why do we need it?
Or do we need it?
The definition of a writing platform varies from person to person, author to publisher, but in essence it boils down to having a way potential readers can get to know you and your work. This typically includes all of the social media gambits like blogging, being active on Twitter or Facebook, and finding avenues to promote your work (I hear skywriting works really well… also yellow page ads).
Is it a good thing?
If you want to sell books, probably.
Can it be a bad thing?
Almost certainly, and here’s why. There are too many voices out there shouting at the top of their lungs about — themselves.
Somehow the definition of Social Media got twisted around from being social to being solo. Self-promoting is like shouting your name into a cave hoping that echo will click a button and purchase your book. It probably ain’t gonna happen. No one likes to spend time with that guy at the party who’s telling you all about himself and only trying to see how you can help him get ahead yet can’t even remember your name. (Truthfully, he probably never asked for it).
Putting auto-posts on Twitter and Facebook, spamming email lists and begging or even trading reviews. Let’s just stop doing it. It all sounds like freeway noise to me. And I’m not saying this to state I’m guilt-free, I just can’t imagine a worse way to be an author. If I have to spam every person I know (and don’t know) to get a few lousy downloads, I’d rather put up my work for free and at least find a few folks who appreciate what I have to offer.
The even more frightening part, at least to me, are the hundreds of “authors” who are preying on those of us who don’t know better, “teaching” us how to use Twitter and blog and build our writing platforms. (Insert your credit card at the end of this sentence please)
Please don’t be one of them. Write something that means something to you, not something to make a quick buck off some poor writer who doesn’t know better. I promise you’ll be happier.
So how do we build a platform that actually works?
BY BEING REAL
Being “social” ………….. Helping others and interacting with them …………….. By answering questions and promoting others ……………. By not checking your KDP reports every day and stressing over numbers …………………. By moving on to your NEXT project and writing ANOTHER great novel instead of promoting the only thing you’ve got.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect to promote my work. I’m proud of it and I think every author or artist has a right to spread the word of what they’ve created. Just make sure it’s not the only words that come out of your mouth.
We all have within us the ability to touch someone’s life through our work. To inspire, to save, to make people feel or ponder or approach something a little differently. Let’s create platforms that aren’t soap boxes but scaffolding that helps support each other. That’s what a platform is really meant to be.