Authors in the process of building and maintaining their media platforms can easily slip into a self-focused effort, evaluating every relationship with an eye toward their personal benefit, seeking attention in any way possible, and exhibiting all the traits of destructive pride.
Well now, there’s a cheery thought to start the day. Some little hairs must have gotten under my collar after my last visit to the barber.
Yes, platform building can be toxic unless you intentionally make it nontoxic.
Narcissism is when a person becomes arrogant, prideful, selfish, demanding, and manipulative. The consequences surround a person like a “sin force field,” making them far less than what God planned for them.
Often, I compare the writing life to a series of job interviews. Getting an agent, pitching a publisher, and assembling an author platform each have similar aspects to interviewing for a job.
When meeting with a prospective employer, it is always confusing whether you should come across as confident and assured or humble and open to leading. Without knowing for certain how to act in every situation, we can misread the audience, and it usually doesn’t end well.
When it comes to building an author platform for marketing purposes, there are any number of best practices for content development, media use, effective promotion, and reader service. But there should be best practices to prevent you from developing into a personal mess, as well.
How do you build your author platform without becoming a narcissist?
Compliments: Never write, “If I say so myself …” statements about your work. Always have compliments originate from others. Maybe you have heard the management technique of “Praise in public, correct in private”? A corollary would be, “Praise from others, admit to shortcomings yourself.”
Service: Any successful author platform has an element of service to it. This means you provide information and inspiration, with the reader foremost in your mind. Unless you are an already-famous person, you will never build a responsive platform by only writing about yourself. Give people something to inform or inspire them. Rarely will it be entirely about you.
Books: Since this is about book-writing, the books you talk about in your media platform should be from a mix of writers. Sure, include your work; but also talk about another book or author you recommend. Every author should have a list of books they enjoy and appreciate from other authors. And to be clear, do not expect the authors of those books to do the same. Expecting reciprocity only fuels the kind of behavior you want to avoid.
Prayer: Pray for your readers and those consuming your material, but don’t make a big deal about it. It’s fine to ask others to send prayer requests, but then you need to follow through quietly and without fanfare. This simple approach to prayer extinguishes the pride-potential, making you a real, caring person.
Concluding, these practices will always be a battle. Like many things in this world, it’s an imperfect process; and there will never be a complete victory in this life. But if you don’t push and pull on these things to control them, they will control you.
The solution is to struggle.