Recently I’ve noticed a frustrating trend. I’ve worked diligently to ensure that I am posting daily blogs, and 3x weekly vlogs as well as bi-weekly podcasts and essays. I’m making it a point to utilize Twitter more and working to use Facebook more, and ultimately continuing work to grow my brand to its greatest potential. But this has come at a cost, in terms of my literary output. I spend so much of my time working on avenues to get my name out there and get my brand out there that I’m not actually doing the one thing that I desperately need to do to make all of this even worth the effort.
Mostly I am writing every day in the form of blog posts, or essays or ideas for things, but the novel writing, the part that is why I’m doing any of this has slowed considerably, and it makes me wonder, is platform building worth it, if it comes at the cost of me actually writing?
I feel like I’ve had this existential crisis before, but I still haven’t figured out the answer. I want to believe that I can have both in tandem with one another, building a platform while also continuing to write novels, but the evidence thus far is showing that less and less. The more I do one, the less I seem to do the other. Finding that balance has become increasingly tricky and I can’t help but wonder if something will fall by the wayside in the process.
In the world of traditional publishing, there’s a certain order of how you get published. First you search for a literary agent. Maybe you spend weeks and months gathering a list of potential agents. You create the perfect query letter and send out. Then… you wait. If you’re lucky you’ll get an agent and possibly a publishing house. But if you’re lacking a platform, you may not be able to find an agent who’s willing to take you on.
A platform is you’re selling point, it’s what entices agents and editors to take the risk of publishing you because they think you’ll sell. Generally speaking if you’ve had previous publishing credits to your name, such as a magazine article, you can use that as your platform. If you have a million followers on your blog, that’s a platform. If you’re a celebrity or a politician that is a platform. The reason most traditional publishing houses take on celebrities and politicians is because they will sell. It’s not a risk for them and in this day in age, publishers aren’t really big on risks. It can cost a lot of money to publish a book, between cover artists, the book designers fees, editors, ISBN, and stocking fees for the psychical stores, a single book can run in the tens of thousands for a traditional publisher, and if they can’t ensure you’re going to make back that money that they invest into you they don’t want to take the risk.
People will buy books from celebrities because they know them. They trust their opinions (for the most part) and that’s why publishers are more willing to take them on. It could be argued that people have a harder time trusting new authors, and understandably so. For every Harry Potter, which I’m sure most would like to believe they are, there are plenty of books that will rarely see the light of day.