When I finally finished writing my fourth book, I decided it was time to start thinking about publishing the most polished of my manuscripts. Like I did with writing, I immersed myself in weeks of research. I dug and dug and was dismayed at what I found. I had never even heard of a writing platform, and now I need to have one established before I could get published? GAH!
What seemed initially overwhelming and a nuisance has become one of the most valuable writing tools. Even if you are stubbornly pursuing traditional publishing, like me, here are the reasons why you should start right away!
First, let’s start with the obvious: the more people you get interested in what you have to say, the more likely your books will do well.
This sounds superficial, and it can be. As you start down the path to platform building, you will certainly meet authors and poets who are only interested in massing a following so they can sell their books. But this reason is actually much deeper than just selling books:
You have spent an inordinate amount of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears on your manuscript. The characters are not just imaginary people in a book, they are your children now, and the DESERVE to enter as many lives as possible. You want to interest people in your books because you want your characters to live on.
Second, you will connect with other writers and that will be an excellent opportunity to learn new things and grow in new ways.
You’ve heard the old cliche: don’t reinvint the wheel. There are experienced writers out there who are willing to share their hard learned wisdom and know-how. Seek them out and make them part of your platform. Doing so will ensure that your time spend on social media is fruitful.
As you begin to build relationships with the writers in your writing community, new opportunities will open and your writing skill will grow! I found one of my first productive writing groups through social media (they sought me out and invited me to join them because of my posts). I have learned to write new things and in new ways through social media challenges like the six-word story challenges that are so popular. My creativity has expanded in ways I never expected and I owe much of that to my writing platform.
Third, not only will you learn a tremendous amount from those other writers, but, so long as you build a genuine connection with them, they will be quick to celebrate your successes.
As I mentioned earlier, I was overwhelmed by the need to build a writing platform when I first started out. I reached out to a famliy friend who was also a published author and she told me, “This [connecting with other authors] is important because however I get published, if and when it happens, these writers will spread the word through all of their contacts.” She’s absolutely right.
From blog tours, to word of mouth, if you make connections with other authors, they will be excited to help you out. I am hosting several author friends who have recently published their work (both traditionally and independantly). I am doing it because these authors have important things to say and I want my followers to hear their messages. I know that when my turn comes, they will do the same for me, for the same reason.
Fourth, as a writer, you need to read, read, read. The process of building your platform will expose you to a ton of different genres, materials, ideas, thoughts, expressions (I could go on, but you get the point).
Sometimes, as writers (and readers), we get stuck in our preferred genre and with a preferred style. The best way to grow your skill, however, is to play, experiment, and seek out new styles and methods. Your first platform followers will likely be fellow authors who are interested in supporting you. As you work to grow your platform, you will need to read and interact with others and you won’t have the luxury of looking only for people who are exactly like you in genre or style. You will be forced, out of necessity, to broaden your horizen. Embrace this.
Fifth, and finally, you will make some meaningful friendships along the way.
Not only have the people I have met expanded my horizons, but I have come to care about their successes and about them. Relationships have blossomed out of mutual respect, interest, and awe (there are some wicked talented people out there). I seriously get the warm fuzzies from several of my platform pals.
So, to sum it all up, you should start building your writing platform right now because it will make your life, and your writing that much brighter and better.