Monday, September 8, 2014

Agency Lessons: Do I need a platform?

In last month's series I talked all about keeping your platform in tip top shape. But what if you don't have a book yet? Do you really need a platform?

Ready?

No, you don't!

Ah, don't you feel better all ready.

Let's be honest. You don't have a book to promote, and without something to read (besides blog posts), readers have little reason to flock to you online. That might sound harsh, but let's put it in perspective. With the popularity of this newfangled contraption many are calling "The Internet", authors are readily available at the fingertips of readers everywhere. And tons of authors are taking advantage of this advancement in technology to make a real connection with their readers. With so many authors no more than a click away, and all the media begging for readers' time, there isn't a lot of draw to spend quantifiable time on the blog of an author with no book. Cold, but true.

Let me just say here that this doesn't apply if you are a non-fiction writer. You need a platform, even without a book. Very few exceptions to that, sorry.

If I don't need a platform, can I quit social media?

Nope. If you thought not needing a platform meant you could quit Twitter, sorry to burst your bubble. Just because you aren't pulling in readers, doesn't mean you shouldn't be pulling in something else...

Connections!

Everyone talks about how lonely writing is and how we need other people to keep us from going crazy. All of that is true. Finding your tribe online is priceless. You need people to cheer you on, answer your questions, bounce ideas and give you a break when you feel the need to strangle your characters.

And Twitter isn't the only place to find your people. Not sure where to start? Get thee to Goodreads. It's a social media hub for book lovers. There are groups there for every taste under the sun. Join one, get involved, meet the people. Do not go around shouting about your book (or your someday book). This will make you a leper. No one likes a leper. Go in as a fellow lover of books and connect with people.

But finding your tribe is not all a good social media presence is for. Connecting with others online is also a great way to find critique partners and beta readers. You can learn about contests, conferences, new agents, publishers calling for submissions, and just overall feel connected to the awesome writing community.

And eventually, you are going to publish a book. You are. This is going to happen. And when it does, you will need people in your corner. Online friends who will help you share in the excitement, talk you through the process and be your cheerleaders. These same friends will help you promote your books, give you marketing tips and make the difference between a writer who is starting from ground zero. 

Let me say this, just to be clear: A large tribe online does not equal book sales. I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression that somehow filling up their Twitter feed with thousands of followers will guarantee you bounteous book sales at release. Rather, a legion of twitter followers grants you access. Access to their support and help.

So stop worrying about building up an extensive platform before you have a book to promote. Instead, focus on connecting with the people around you.

Wednesday, I'm going to share a few tips for those of you who are looking to spice up your pre-publication blogs. :)

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