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Your Guide to the Guide: Part 13 The Long Game

Do you need a platform to get published?

No, when all is said and done, you don't need one. A platform will help you become successful, though.

If your book is good enough, and finds a publisher who likes it enough to invest in it, you can do what authors have done for centuries — get published without having to fall back on their ‘identities’ or ‘celebrity status’.

Agents or publishers will primarily make decisions based on the quality of your manuscript and its suitability for its specific marketplace.

If your book is good enough, a platform will grow around it naturally. It’s very difficult to build a platform around a work that does not yet exist; and it’s almost impossible to build one around a poor quality work (though I’m sure you can think of some exceptions…)

With fiction, the focus tends to be more on the art and craft of the storytelling or the quality of the writing more than a platform. Your credibility as a good writer can be key.

However, if you examine the current bestseller list you’ll find books by celebrities and well-established writers occupying most of it. That’s because publishers are primarily interested in making money, and so often approach the problem in reverse: they look for someone who already has a platform for some other reason — a sports or movie star or politician or politician’s wife — and then get them to write a book (or have it ghost-written for them).

Contrary to many beliefs, platform is not about attracting attention to yourself, or shouting from the rooftops at everyone you can reach online or offline. Think of it like this: would you stand in the middle of a supermarket and suddenly shout to everyone shopping there ‘My name is so-and-so and I’ve written a book! Come and see me if you want a copy!’? The answer is probably not — and even if you did, the likely outcome is that you would be a) ignored or b) taken away by the store security people. Yet this is what people do all day every day on the internet. The result? They are ignored or marked as ‘spam’.

Building a platform is a more organic -- and actually more pleasant -- process which depends for its success on authenticity and shared reality. It requires consistent, ongoing effort over the course of a period of months or years. It is an incremental process, extending your network one bit at a time. It’s about creating things that attract other people to you, not shouting at others to pay attention to you.

How is this done exactly? As a fiction writer, here are some steps you could take:

• Publish or distribute quality work in magazines or on websites you want to be identified with and that your target audience reads.

• Produce a body of work on your own website.

• Have a regular blog featuring your stories.

• Grow a social network around your fiction — groups, a page, perhaps podcasts, videos, digital downloads, etc—that gathers interested followers or a community of people who like your output. This usually takes time.

• Find ways to engage with and develop your particular prospective readers, whether through creating content or inviting them to events or discussing books similar to your own.

Unless you’re already famous, you can’t build a platform overnight. Platform isn’t something you can buy, precisely because you can’t normally buy genuine affinity or care. You’re looking for meaningful interaction: from that will follow sales, in the future. For these very reasons, an author platform is an individual matter.

However, my Author Platform Programme helps you to isolate your unique strengths and qualities as well as your target readership and assists you to develop a platform as a creative exercise and an extension of the work you produce.

It takes time.

It’s a meaningful investment in your career as an author.

Finding and nurturing your audience on channels that you own, and on your own terms, is creating your own future, bit by bit.

I can provide you with a tailor-made programme to raise your author profile with minimum effort while avoiding the time-wasting pitfalls. Contact me.

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