The issue of authors needing large social media platforms before they can be considered by certain publishers (and therefore agents) has been a source of frustration for some and a challenge for others. For few, it is an energizing, motivating pursuit.
Agents at this agency have blogged about it here for years. We’ve all given presentations at conferences on the subject. Questions about platform come to us almost every day. We recommend books or articles to read, seminars to attend and suggestions to follow. For those who are individually successful at developing a strong author platform, a common occurrence is they spend almost as much time on it as they do writing. It is neither fast or simple. Platform development and maintenance can become the proverbial tail that wags the dog.
But it is the omnipresent issue every author must address sometime. And it will never, ever go away.
Getting published is never about the manuscript or idea alone. Content and writing matter, but not in isolation of everything else, such as assembling a group of “followers” beforehand, which is what a platform is.
Universal truth about author platform: No single approach works for everyone.
(Sounds like the common argument of the universal truth there is no universal truth…and ‘round and ‘round we go)
I am going to suggest something today that is not for everyone, but maybe for someone.
Have you noticed that this agency blog has four writers contributing to it? Sometimes we will even add others to guest-blog. If Steve Laube continued to try to blog regularly on his own without contributions from the others, he would not be enjoying it.
Group blogging and social media might be the answer to some yearning to solve the problem of author platform.
But it involves giving up a little of your own personal identity and agenda and accepting being less of the focal point.
Click here for the listing of the top 300 Christian blogs as of a year ago. (http://churchrelevance.com/resources/top-church-blogs/)
Note that eleven of the top twenty blogs have multiple contributors.
How this would work:
- Have a clear idea of your “message platform” Click here for my post on what that means. http://www.stevelaube.com/author-platforms-101-part-one-message-platform/
- Find other people that have a generally similar message
- Connect with those people and tell them you have an idea that the sum of your parts would be greater than the individual. (Actually, introduce yourself and get to know them a little first. Blurting out something about “the sum of your parts” could weird them out)
- Create a social media and website presence reflecting the agenda of the group.
- Pick one person as managing editor and set deadlines, etc.
- Share any costs equally.
- Hold hands and sing, “Kum Bah Yah” followed by a rousing chorus of “It Only Takes a Spark.”
- Get to work.
Seriously though, a group needs a coordinator, so whoever has the spiritual gift of administration wins that job.
So how do you find people to do this?
You don’t. Unless you are ready to admit you need to join a group and are willing to give up some of your agenda for the sake of the group. No one will want to join you on the group platform if they sense it is a tool to sell one of the members’ books above all else. It must be a group effort for the general group benefit.
Sure, there might be a dominant person, but the burden is placed at their feet to serve the group and not be overly controlling.
OK, so how do you find people to do this?
Start with one person who you know who might fit with you and then ask them to recommend others. Any aspiring author should know a few other people in their general category they can ask. Start with two, then add more as you grow.
So how would you determine the theme of the group?
Consider general themes like:
- Practical living
- Genuine relationships
- Radical spirituality
- Racial reconciliation
- Financial stewardship
- Inspiring stories
- Positive living amidst the negative
If it is new, make the theme of the group something that comes out of the group consensus. If you are established, ask people to join you and share the spotlight.
The key is to give up a little to gain a lot.
Group platforms create a larger effort that probably has a longer life rather than an individual platform. You will know when you are successful when people are asking to join you and there is a waiting list.
A good analogy would be a magazine. Articles and features centered around a certain general theme for a specific audience.
Give it a shot. Might be just the thing for you.