Novice Novelist, Episode 1: 5 Things I Think of When Editing

Breaking news!: I have a new YouTube Channel!

This is an exciting new development for my platform, and I’m glad I get to share it with you. See below for more info on the why of this.

In the meanwhile, here is the first episode of The Novice Novelist!

I’ve been feeling a little lost in my platform efforts until I began preparing my Breathe Conference talk on growing from a small platform. As I began to research, I found that I wasn’t having fun with my platform and that was keeping me from wanting to grow it.

I was also missing some of the video production portions of my old job and wanted to grow my video editing skills (which are none) to something more marketable. This is how the Novice Novelist was born!

My goal is to make a video a month and post on the channel and the blog.

You Can’t Do It All

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When intentionally building your platform, it might be tempting to begin putting content our on every social media site you can think of.

At first it’s exciting and new. You’re all full of the hope of how this will help your writing and launch or re-launch your career…and then you get tired.

It’s exhausting to try and keep up with a blog, a site, a Facebook fan page, your personal Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, YikYak, Google+, MySpace, Vine, Xenga…You cannot possibly do everything.  (In other news, while writing this, I found that Xenga still exists…how is this possible? Is this like the pyramids?)

Here is my number one advice to anyone starting or revitalizing their platform: Start simple.

You have a life. Keep that life. Don’t let your platform take over time that could be spent making your art. If you spend every free moment pouring into as many channels as possible, you will be exhausted, you won’t be getting the work your really want to do done, and your platform isn’t going to be very strong.

That’s right—more is not more when it comes to your platform.

Choose two channels and build them up well. Personally, I have invested my energy into my blog and a Facebook page.

Once you feel you have a good handle on the two platforms of your choice, consider if you’d like to add to that. If you do, then go for it! It’s easier to start small and grow, then to start the race at full force and burn out before you can really even start. Since coming back from hiatus, I’ve added a website and a more consistent Instagram to my platform.

Most of us are writing part-time and doing whatever else to pay the bills. Time and energy are precious and you don’t want all of that effort to go into your platform. (Although platform is part of the process.)


Bible College SpinsterAs a side note, I want to thank you all for all your support for the first Bible College Spinster post last week! I had a lot of fun reading it and was so touched by the comments, emails, article shares, and conversations this little post spurred.

The series will be a every-other week deal with new content next week.

Thanks again for your support!

Platform is part of the process

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I love working with writers. Whether it’s during the process of plotting or even post publication, I love seeing how different authors minds work. I love the behind the scenes glimpses I get of those around me.

In the midst of the behind the scenes moments, a lot of talk about a writer’s platform comes up. (Probably because I am both a writer and a marketer…I doubt many writers feel the need to bring up their platform in random small talk scenarios…)

Most of the published writers I know are not too thrilled that they also have to do their own marketing. Confessing what I do for a living to a published writer usually starts a litany of complaints or confused questions.

And I get it, trust me I do. It can be really overwhelming to think about having to keep up a website and a blog and a Facebook page and an Instagram and a Snapchat and and and. It can be a lot.

Except that for a writer, platform building isn’t marketing. It’s storytelling. It is, in fact, part of the writing process.

Think about it this way: What good is telling a story that no one is listening to? What good is telling it if no one even knows you’re telling it?

Building your platform is telling the story of your story. And you get to tell it to those who care about you. You are not just shouting out unto the void, you’re telling your friends and family about it. And then they will tell their friends and family and your circle of influence begins to grow. You are telling a story that catches on.

Publishers only have so much influence when it comes to marketing a book. A book may be critically acclaimed, but that doesn’t mean it is read by the general public. Your personal connections—your friends, family, and co-workers—make a huge difference.

The leg work an author is expected to do in building their platform and marketing their book does not have to be extensive. Choose two or three things you can do well and begin to unpack your story—both the one you’re writing and the one you’re living. Those are the stories your circle of influence wants to hear.

Finding your WHY

doctype-hi-resWhen I tell people I work in marketing, I never really know what response I’m going to get. “Platform building” is not always everyone’s favorite topic. To many, it feels disingenuous, or even a little slimy and I get it. Trust me. I get it.

The thing is, I’m not just promoting things for the money. I get to market books and education—two things I’m very passionate about. I don’t feel like I’m selling something unnecessarily. I’m recommending things I can stand firmly behind and I just happen to get paid for it.

If I don’t believe in what I’m promoting, is there really any point?

For authors opposed to building their own platform, I think a shift in perspective may need to be considered. The question to be answered is how are you actually viewing platform? Is a platform something

A.)used to sell books

or is it B.)a tool to build relationships and foster discussion?

I firmly believe option B is what makes a platform. A just alienates those who believe in your work and doesn’t draw anyone new in.

So what’s the difference between the two?

It all boils down to your WHY.

Simon Sinek explained the concept in his 2009 Ted Talk, which I highly recommend. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Marketing doesn’t work if it’s just advertising. It’s a relationship. An exchange of values and ideas that may result in a product. But it may not. This is what separates the schmoozing from the substantial. An author’s platform is not meant to be shameless self-promotion. It’s supposed to be tribe building.

I could talk about this all day, but if you’re looking for more on this topic, I recommend this blog post I wrote for Apricot Services.

Weigh in in the comment’s section. What turns you off to marketing and what does platform building look like to you?