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.
Andrew M Budek-Schmeisser
If you like the stuff I write,
that is fine with me,
but I have learned through this long night
that all of life is vanity
except for that which honours God,
and praises Him through gain and struggle,
acting as a holy prod
to prick the narcissistic bubble
like that which held poor Martha’s heart,
impervious to truth and grace;
far better to take Mary’s part
in silent joy lift wond’ring face
from self-regarding looking-glass
to see bright Heaven’s glories pass.
As I am right smack in the middle of this platform building project, this is a timely reminder. Next to my desk I keep a card with John 15:5 on it – “apart from Me you can do nothing.“ It helps me to keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus before me, Jesus behind. If our focus is Him, then the needs of our readers will be before us always. But I can be easily distracted! Thank you for a well written reminder.
Carol L. Paur
Love this! I’m not writer who writes Christian but I am a Christian. I do feel a bit self-centered trying to build my platform, but this is a healthy and good approach. Thank you!
Thank you for this. My first book releases in the spring, and this area is a struggle for me. I’m so thankful for all the tips and people who come and walk alongside on this new-to-me path. You all are a gift!
Thank you for these good words, Dan. A publicist once gave me a piece of advice that shifted my mindset about platform building. He reminded me that Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” and he encouraged me to keep that directive in mind in all I do re: writing and promotion. So, when I write an article, do an interview, or speak at an event, I remember that it’s not about me or selling my books. Getting my message out there is about feeding Christ’s sheep–giving them hope and insights that will help them flourish.
Great article Dan, and very timely for me as well. I love that last line: “The solution is to struggle” and plan to steal it (with attribution of course).
Important words, Dan. Thank you.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thank you so much! I sure appreciate seeing this. Sometimes it feels as though we are expected to become something we don’t want to be in order to sell books. Such a good reminder that Christ should rule our platform as well as other areas of our lives!
Timely and important reminders, Dan. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you. This is so timely for me this morning.
Dan, well said. For this poor scribe, prayer first because nothing gets done without the firm hand of our Author. Yeah, I’m an expert at procrastination LOL. walk in His beauty