A few friends have asked why I’ve decided to start a writer’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed now when I haven’t published anything and there’s nothing to “sell”. That’s a very good question and I realize that all of this may seem presumptuous, but there are actually some good reasons for doing this now versus later.
First and foremost, every author today needs a platform. Typically, that platform involves a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed at the very least. Your platform provides an avenue to communicate with your audience and establish that connection with your readers. This connection is critical if you hope to market your work at some point in the future. There are millions of books and authors out there and they are all vying for the attention of readers. A platform helps you get that attention. If a reader likes your work, they’ll likely follow you in some way and they’ll be the first to get your new book when it comes out. In fact, most agents today want to sign authors who have already established a platform, so it becomes the proverbial chicken of the egg question. Do you need a platform before or after you have your first book in publication? The answer depends on who you ask, but the safe bet is that the sooner you have a platform, the better.
The reality is that a platform doesn’t just appear overnight. You can put all the pieces in place and still be stuck in an empty room with crickets chirping. You have to build content that attracts people to your sites and then you have to promote the sites. It takes time and effort, and if you want to have any momentum by the time your work gets published, you have to get a running start. That, in a nutshell, is the key reason I’ve started building my platform at this point. The road to publication is long and arduous. It may be years before I get to that point, but I will be ready when I get there with a platform that has a strong history of content and engagement.
The other reason I’ve started my platform now is more subtle and psychological. For years I’ve been writing in the shadows. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, but I’ve always told myself that I’d get around to publishing some day. I’ve been writing a blog for over ten years, but beyond that none of my writing has seen the light of day. I always seemed to put it off to another day “when I had time.” A couple of years ago, I committed myself to getting published. There’s something liberating about making a personal declaration to do something, but there’s something even more motivating in telling the world what you plan to do. No one wants to fail in plain sight of friends and family, but exposing yourself and your dreams to others helps keep you accountable and certainly motivates you beyond those inevitable down moments when everything seems impossible and difficult.
The road ahead certainly seems exciting, but it’s equally frightening, and I’m putting it out there for everyone to see. I can’t think of anything more motivating than succeeding in the face of daunting odds. These are the challenges that make life all the more enjoyable. I can’t help but believe that my passion and enthusiasm for writing will ultimately lead me to great personal satisfaction. Anything worth achieving takes a lot of work, and this platform is just the beginning.