I will admit I started this blog partly out of curiosity and partly because of the ongoing talk about author’s platforms. Before this, the only social medium I engaged in was Facebook with a humble string of old school and work friends for followers. Twitter, WordPress, Linkedin and Reddit were social platforms for neurotic Twilight and Hunger Games fans.
A few months in, I’m realising my blog brings me so much more. I’m connecting with fellow writers, it’s a fulfilling creative outlet that I have complete control over, I’m broadening my knowledge about different topics through research, I’m expanding my technical skills – AND I can publish what I write instantly, full creative control, without waiting for the green light from editors! Hoorah!
And how essential is it anyway to have an author’s platform? Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, says they are overrated. In his blog How Important Is An Author’s Platform he claims that ‘it begins with writing the best manuscript possible. If the author doesn’t do that, then the size of the media platform is irrelevant.’
In contrast, Writer’s Digest Editor, Phil Sexton, places higher value on the need for an author’s platform but claims it ultimately depends on your goals for your book. ‘If you’re a writer who strives for commercial success and a wide audience of readers, then, yes, platform most certainly matters. It makes no difference whether your ultimate goal is indie or traditional publishing; if you want your book to be competitive in the marketplace, you must consider how you can reach out and generate excitement among readers. Having a platform will help you do just that.’
To read his full article, click here.
Whether a platform is necessary or not, my leap into social media has been an interesting one. Since swapping to a self-hosted blog I’ve experience no end of technical problems, I still have no idea what a meta tag is or how to add an RSS feed, I’m fumbling my way around Twitter and I’ve set up a Facebook page with only 5 likes. I frequently wonder what it is I’m supposed to be doing out here wandering these foreign plains, but the sun is rising, casting its frail light across my path and it’s growing stronger with each day. I witnessed the power of Twitter last week as one of my blogs was retweeted (technical term RT’d) several times, my traffic soaring. Such excitement for a newbie.
However, social media is a trap. It’s time consuming and, no doubt, a diversion from writing books. It’s important to set limits and remain clear in your head where your priorities lie. If you are interested in developing a platform, Derek Haines provides one of the most helpful articles I have come across shedding light on how you should use each medium Authors – How To Promote Yourself.
How important do you think it is to build an author’s platform? What forms of social media do you engage in?