I recently read a blog post by Michael Hyatt (@michaelhyatt) titled “Three Reasons Why Authors Must Develop Their Own Platforms.” I completely agree with his thesis – authors have to get way past the idea that “if you write it they will read.”
Hyatt offer three reasons why authors need to build a platform:
- Competition has never been greater (i.e., there are a zillion books available to be read)
- People are more distracted than ever (i.e., attention is finite and a zero-sum resource)
- The publishing industry is stuck in an old model (i.e., book-by-book audience is old-think)
In the post, Hyatt cites an email from an aspiring author referring to the publisher’s preference for authors with large incumbent twitter followings as an example of “platform.”
Two respected agents have told me they loved my book and proposal and are willing to represent it, but not until I have social media followers numbering in the thousands. I find this bewildering: Doesn’t a good book stand on its own anymore? Are writers now doomed to spend the bulk of our workdays trawling for blog subscribers?
Why does a publisher care about an author’s Twitter following? Sales of course. The (inaccurate) notion is that with an immediately addressable opt-in audience the author can create pent-up demand and foment post-release interest on their own. Less pressure on costly book tours, better ROI for all stakeholders.
Here’s the huge problem. Twitter and Facebook are rewriting the rules on what rewards await the person/organization that develops a large following on their platform.
Unless an author is incessant/relentless about self-promotion (which works against social followership) they are unlikely (under the new rules) to get meaningful traction from their social media audiences.
I talked a little about this in this post on social media engagement. Audience builders and leaders suffer and audience members do as well.
We’re working on this at Reacht. We’d love for you to be involved.