Monday, April 8, 2013

Build Your Platform
By Laura Howard
 
Building your Following Slow and Steady
You can't visit many writing blogs these days without running into the term “Platform”.
Build your platform before you publish.
The bigger your platform, the more people will know about your book.
First, let me say that this isn't necessarily untrue. I just think that maybe the perception of what a platform is has become a bit fuzzy.

When I imagine an “author's platform”, I think of the platform at a train station. On the platform is a person waving their book around at a crowd, shouting at them to buy their book.

Not an ideal situation, if you ask me.

So, instead of that image, I'd like to replace it with a new scenario. I recently read the free ebook The Secrets of Ebook Publishing Success offered from Mark Coker of Smashwords. Whether you publish through Smashwords or not, there are some great tips for self-publishing authors in there.

In it he referred to a platform as a fire. We all start with nothing. We add a small amount of kindling to get it started. We only add small logs in order to get the fire good and hot, because if we add a big one too early we will suffocate our flame. Once we reach a critical mass of heat, we can add larger logs, and then those logs start throwing off ever-greater heat, allowing the fire to burn hotter and brighter.

I love this visual. I love the idea of starting off small and building slowly. Each little piece of kindling represents a real connection- a real relationship.

Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn spends a lot of time talking about Relationship Marketing: Getting people to like, know, and trust you. I think this is made possible through making meaningful connections rather than gaining, say 20,000 Twitter followers who won't even remember your name.

Imagine how hot and bright your fire will burn when the small community you cultivate starts to grow enthusiastic about your book(s). Think about the many dozens of people each of your raving fans will want to share your work with. That's when the real magic starts to happen. But, it takes time to get there.

We all like to be part of something bigger than ourselves. When you have a group of people who are invested in what you're doing, you have also extended your success to become their success. They'll naturally want to spread the word about something that they have become such a big part of.

Once you've written the best book possible and you have a loyal troop of fans, there is only so far any amount of marketing will go. You must trust in good, old-fashioned word of mouth to fan the flames of your success.

So, as the tortoise showed the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

I'd love to know how you connect with readers, let me know in the comments!
Posted by Bethany Lopez On 6:42 PM 1 comment

1 comment:

  1. I love that image of building a fire, Laura! The problem I see with a platform is it is a term founded in traditional publishing where books only have a short time to take off before the publisher moves on to the next book, hoping it will be the next big thing.

    Cultivating relationships is a much nicer thought to me than standing on a platform, waving my book around for people to buy.

    I've been so touched by heartfelt comments from readers who were excited by my work. That reader means more to me than any amount of faceless people I don't really know.

    I've also found some great books to read by asking my readers for suggestions. It takes time to build true relationships, but they are much more likely to last than the fires that burn out because they are only made of superficial fuel.

    Thanks for the great reminder. I just wish I had known this when I first started out. We all have the dream of hitting it big, but sometimes we burn ourselves out too fast to allow that to happen.

    ReplyDelete

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