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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Anne

Myths About Writing: Platform Doesn't Matter

Myths About Writing: Platform Doesn't Matter

Graphic with Myths About Writing: Platform Doesn't Matter

Okay, okay. Authors, before you start throwing stones (or crying), let me tell you about my experience to date with the importance of a platform. Last May, I was blessed to attend the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and pitched my story to an agent. She invited me to send a book proposal once I was finished with the editing process, and so I did. When the agent responded, she said that while she liked my story, and my proposal was well done, my social media stats were too low for her to offer representation. (Not an author and just want to know what this means for readers? Click here to skip to the reader targeted section!)

The first thing to look at is what's the big deal with social media and platform and what these numbers tell agents and publishers that is important enough to accept or reject a new author. The short answer is marketability; does this person have the reach and influence to sell their book. With around 5,000 books being published each day, having a large group of people who are already devoted enough to a person's work and words to interact with the person on social media, and give her their email address, in the case of newsletters, shows that the person's book (or series) is more likely to perform well in the torrent of thousands of new books. Bottom line, agents and publishers are asking, "Will this book produce a profit?"

There is a heated debate about whether social media numbers accurately represent the likelihood of an unpublished author's work selling well (read more about this here), but this doesn't negate the reality that agents and publishers consider these numbers in deciding whether to represent or publish, respectively, a book. In addition to this, social media can be a wonderful tool to reach and connect with others. As Christian authors, we are called to be a light and serve others, but we should not wait for a contract to do this. Publishing is a long journey, and we aren't excused from our primary mission of being a beacon of hope and love for Christ while we wait. Social media is a tool we can use to do this before we are published. And, there is a strong correlation between someone subscribing to a newsletter and being more likely to purchase a book. After all, as Thomas Umstattd Jr. said, "If people don’t trust you with their email address, they won’t trust you with their money."

What does this mean for non-authors, those who are there to support the author because she's a family member or friend, or because they enjoy the snippets they've read of his work? Does this mean they should follow the author on every platform? Nope. This just pads the author's numbers, and when not many of a person's followers interact with the content she posts, this places her lower in the algorithm and makes it less likely new people will discover her (from my limited understanding of how all this works).

So, for those who want to support pre-published authors, here are my top tips in regards to platform:

  1. Subscribe to the author's newsletter. This, and an author's website, are the only platforms the author owns. FaceBook, Instagram, etc. can—and have—kicked authors off for no reason, obliterating all their progress in connecting with followers and creating content. Subscribing to a newsletter also indicates a greater level of trust, and therefore an increased likelihood of buying a book, and so a large number of newsletter subscribers can offset a smaller number of followers on social media.

  2. Interact with an author's social media posts! Not only will this encourage the author, it will also tell the algorithms of the various social media sites that the post is engaging people. Because the site's goal is to engage people and keep them on the platform longer, more likes, comments, and shares means the post or reel will be shown more frequently in feeds, increasing the chance of new followers.

  3. Pray for the author. While social media can be fun and entertaining, it's exhausting to come up with new ideas for getting people's attention and interacting with them, especially for newer and/or unpublished authors whose posts aren't interacted with as much. And don't just pray for a greater reach—though we would appreciate that—pray that we remember we're ultimately performing for an audience of one: God.


Are you an author who needs encouragement about platform building? Check out this article from the Steve Laube Agency blog.

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