In the ever-evolving landscape of the writing and publishing industry, aspiring authors often find themselves caught in the alluring web of building a platform. This platform, commonly characterized by high numbers of social-media engagement and followers, has become a coveted status symbol. But what if I told you that new authors can achieve far more by valuing partnerships over platforms?
Instead of fixating on the superficial metrics of popularity, up-and-coming content creators should shift their focus to cultivating meaningful relationships. Specifically, authors should aim to build genuine connections with their readers, peers, and industry professionals, such as conference coordinators, publishers, and agents. Too often, Christian communicators and writers in general forget the art of relationship building and jump straight to asking for endorsements, collaborations, or free advice.
When I started my journey into professional writing, I spent eons of time carefully curating social-media posts, colorful graphics, and more time than I’d admit in public fretting over my “branding image.” Don’t hear me say that branding, social-media engagement, and readership are not important things. But do hear me communicate the essential nature of partnerships in this business. You need to know who you are serving, how your unique offering makes an impact, and who in different spheres of influence can help you reach others with your message.
Here are some practical principles to transition from a platform-centered approach to a partnership-focused one, ensuring a more fulfilling and successful writing journey.
Principle One: Change Your Mind About Platform
It’s time to reevaluate your priorities. Shift your focus from building a platform to developing partnerships. Understand that the number of social-media followers doesn’t define your worth as a writer. Instead, concentrate on building quality relationships that will sustain your career in the long run. These relationships should encompass three key areas: with your readers, with your peers, and with the industry professionals who can help you progress in your writing career.
First, start building genuine connections with your readers. Engage with them on a personal level. Understand their needs, desires, and preferences. Instead of rushing to ask them for something, ask yourself, “How am I serving my audience or reader on a regular or consistent basis?” Offer real value from their perspective. Provide insights, advice, skills, and truths they genuinely seek. Your goal is to become a trusted source of valuable content.
Second, nurture your relationships with your peers. Don’t view fellow writers as competitors; see them as potential allies. Collaborate, share ideas, and support one another’s work. The writing community is vast, and there’s room for everyone to thrive. By fostering healthy peer relationships, you not only gain knowledge and experience but also strengthen your position within the industry.
Lastly, forge connections with industry professionals, such as conference coordinators, publishers, and literary agents. However, remember that these relationships shouldn’t be built on transactional grounds. Instead, focus on reciprocity. Offer your support and assistance where you can; and in return, you’ll find doors opening and opportunities coming your way.
Principle Two: Serve First, Then Ask
One of the most common rookie mistakes in the writing and publishing world is bombarding your audience with emails or social-media posts, urging them to buy your book, sign up as beta readers, or take other immediate actions without first serving them. To build successful partnerships and real buy-in from your audience or readers, you must reverse this approach.
Begin by asking yourself, “How can I serve my audience or reader on a regular or consistent basis?” Get to know your audience well and strive to provide them with valuable content that aligns with their interests and needs. Personally, I prefer engaging with my readers by offering them real value from their perspective before I make any requests, such as purchasing my book or leaving reviews.
Service creates a bond of trust. By consistently delivering content that benefits your audience, you prove that you’re more interested in helping them than in making a quick sale. When you eventually do make requests, your audience will be more inclined to reciprocate because they value the relationship you’ve built with them. In the same way, serving alongside peers in the writing community or pursuing new relationships with professionals through support is a viable way to make inroads in your career.
Ultimately, partnerships can be far more valuable than platforms in the world of writing and publishing. Shifting your focus from numbers to nurturing meaningful relationships with your readers, peers, and industry professionals will set you on a path to success. Remember to serve first and ask later, as this approach fosters trust and reciprocity. Knowing who to ask for help and when is crucial for constructing a lasting career in the writing and publishing world. By valuing partnerships and cultivating these genuine connections, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come your way, ensuring a fulfilling and enduring career with people who believe in you.