The glory days were fun, weren’t they? The heydays too. But they’ve both attempted to sideline me in my quest to build a reader platform.
Because if we stay back in the days when authors had the luxury of writing books, then watching their sales rise, then writing more books, we will be utterly frustrated.
Today is not then.
The reality is this: in today’s overcrowded publishing climate, an author wears two important hats.
- There’s the writing hat (with a feather in it for panache)
- and the platform hat (accompanied by a catchy tiktok soundtrack).
We can spend a great deal of emotional energy stomping on the platform hat, silencing the soundtrack, declaring we are writings-not-marketers, and lamenting that things are not as they used to be. This kind of grief is important initially, but it must not be wallowed in. The past is gone. The heyday is over. Be sad about it, then grieve, but move on. Pick up your platform hat, even if it doesn’t fit right, and see how you can bring creativity to it. Instead of viewing it as a foe, see it as a friend who will help you find readers.
The way to (possibly) don the platform hat with renewed joy is to understand it through the lens of ministry. Yes, our words are a ministry, to be sure. But there are many ways to wield words:
- In a newsletter.
- On Instagram.
- In a tweet.
- Through public speaking.
- In a freebie we give to our people.
If we can view platform building as shepherding, the angst has a chance to die down a bit. Building a platform, then, becomes anticipatory because it simply means we reach more people with our words.
Perhaps another analogy will help. Used to be in my halcyon days of youth, I could eat anything and everything, and it did not affect the weight on the scale. But something happened (life!) over the decades. My body no longer burns my food to oblivion; instead it hoards it. I can either pine for the days of yore and lament that I can’t eat that bag of chips, or I can face the reality of today. I can no longer eat that way. The sooner I make peace with that, the more proactive I become about changing my behavior, and the more I welcome new, adapted habits.
Authors, similarly, need to make peace with the inevitability of change. Publishers are looking at platforms (almost primarily). So we need to discern this existing climate and make adjustments. We have to change our habits in order to reach our audience.
If you’re slowly pulling on that platform hat, and it feels ill-fitting or itchy, I’ve written a couple of posts about starting. You can read them here or here or here. I hope they give you a new way of looking at the task ahead of you.
I happen to believe that if we stay stuck in nostalgia, we miss the beautiful “next” God has for us. It’s an adventure, writer friend!