I was at PubSmart last week and got into a debate with Hugh Howey about how we as writers sometimes shy away from business words and should we embrace them because we all are business people (yes, we are—we’re each CEOs of our own Global Media Empires, remember?) or is it okay to develop our own language?
We were on a panel together and the discussion turned to platform building. As the moderator said the word “platform” I could see at least half of the audience cringe.
I understand their discomfort with equating our readers, our family, the people who let us live this incredible life, with a slab of plywood hammered and nailed together.
So here’s my approach to platform building. And yes, you have one (even if you’re just starting out) and yes, you need to keep growing and building it with each new book.
I promise, no hammer or nails required!
Start with knowing yourself. What are your strengths? How do you enjoy interacting with people in real life and on line?
Are you someone who is energized by engaging with folks on social media? Then make sure you incorporate time to do that in your work schedule.
Are you someone who is better chatting in person? Then focus on getting out there in real life to book clubs, conferences, civic organizations.
Platform = the people who want to hear from you and who you can reach.
Always own your platform. If you use social media, make sure you have a way to also send folks to your online real estate: your website and mailing list. If you use live, in person events, collect email addresses and make sure your audience knows where to find you on line.
Personally, I hate the term platform (every time I hear it, I see a soap box in my head). I prefer to think of the people who make up my platform as part of my family.
Words are important and yes, it’s important that people see use as business people. So I totally respect Hugh for saying that he believes as writers we need to embrace marketing terms and not shy away from them as if they are beneath us.
Yet, we are also wordsmiths, storytellers. We use words to evoke emotion and change hearts and minds.
Bottom line: whatever you’re comfortable calling it, you need a platform—you have a platform—so embrace it, don’t put up artificial barriers between yourself and your platform (your peeps, if that’s more palatable).
Be genuine. Be authentic. Be yourself.
And as always, have fun with it! Your joy and passion will shine through in everything you do.
Ready to share your stories with the world as a ProWriter? Check out the courses created by myself and Joanna Penn on The Secrets of a ProWriter, Breaking into Publishing , Secrets of Indy Publishing, and How to Reach Readers and Market Your Novel.