Is An Author’s Platform Now A Prerequisite?

Today Tumblr hosts over 60 million blogs. WordPress hosts over 75 millions blogs. Facebook has accumulated over 1 billion monthly users, Twitter 500 million users.

What are all these people doing out there? http

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?


Comments

  1. Hi Gemma,
    Great post.
    I too believe my blog is the most important.
    I still haven’t found the time to sign up with Facebook. LOL :-)

  2. kirstenhwhyte says:

    I only started using Twitter and WordPress because everyone I spoke to in the industry and everything I read said that you had to have an ‘Author Platform’. The trouble is, like you said, that it takes up so much time. The amount of time I have to write is limited because I have a day job. In order to make all this social media worth while I was beginning to get the impression that you have to be on it pretty much 24/7, which is just unrealistic. Then I read an article that said you should only spend a fifth of the amount of time you do writing on social media. This is a much more balanced approach, especially as it is so easy to be over whelmed by it all, as I was. I could probably do more, but I am of the opinion that it should be an accessory to your writing, not the be all and end all!

  3. Brittany Pate says:

    I only started my blog recently. I started out with Twitter and that has proved to be the most invaluable tool I have. I waffled for a while about starting a blog, worried that I wouldn’t have enough to say or that no one would really be interested in reading it. I’ve finally settled on a posting schedule of one per week. I feel that gives me enough time to use Twitter, Facebook and write. Kirsten has the right of it when she says it should be an accessory to the writing.

  4. Great Post! I am building my author platform as well, and as a newbie have found great comfort in knowing I’m not alone in my writing fears and challenges. As writers, we struggle with the “time” issue non-stop. I have approached blogging with focusing on the PROCESS not the END in mind. Meaning…I am looking at it as a way to better my writing by writing, not just a means to the end(publishing). Approaching the social media with this attitude, helps tone down my resentment toward the “lack of time” issue.
    In short, we will find a way to do what we deem important, and an excuse for everything else. I wish you the best, and thank you again for such a timely post!

    • My pleasure and I think your approach is a good one. I pick topics I can learn from and already feel so much more knowledgeable! Good luck with building your platform. I look forward to sharing the journey with you ;)

  5. I focus on my blog for social media and reaching a potential reading audience. I don’t Tweet, and I have only my personal Facebook page for family and friends. Even blogging just twice a week takes a huge chunk of time. Because it’s not just writing my own posts. I’m also replying to comments on them, reading other blog, commenting on them…. It’s a lot of work. That’s why I haven’t expanded to other outlets. But the camaraderie and support network can’t be beat. And I think ultimately we get the “biggest bang for our buck” with blogging.

    • I agree with you about the camaraderie, although I had my first really rude comment yesterday which I quickly deleted! I enjoy the commenting part heaps because of the interaction on so many interesting points. Keep up with the blogging ;)

  6. Hi Gemma – I agree it’s a jungle out there, and I’m still trying to demystify it myself. If you haven’t discovered Kristen Lamb yet, check her out. Her writing career is dedicated to helping writers in the rapidly changing landscape of the industry. She recommends writers maintain a presence on three social media platforms: blogging, FB, and Twitter – and that’s it. I’m currently reading her book “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer,” — which is all about how to do and not do social media.

    For now, I’m easing into it. I have a Twitter account, but have yet to get in there and poke around. And my FB right now is limited to personal usage. I, like you, am struggling with how to pack it all in and still have time to write. I’ll figure it out eventually, I guess. But building relationships with other writers through blogging has been the most rewarding.

  7. Such a great summary of all the perks and pitfalls of platform building Gemma. I find social media to be a huge time suck because I am a teeny bit addicted to twitter and it’s so easy to get lost down the rabbit hole there!

    But I do love my blog for the connections it has given me – both with fellow writers as well as with readers – and I LOVE the freedom of writing whatever I want, whenever I want there!

    I think this is such an interesting time to be an emerging writer in our fair world because there are so many options and avenues open to us when it comes to getting our words out there. But there are so many little traps as well!!