Managing a Writer’s Platform

Snowy ChairsWriters are often advised to develop their platforms so that when publishers consider buying a novel, they’ll see that the author already has a built-in audience, a direct connection to potential readers. I see the merit of this concept, and many authors are genuinely excited by the idea of reaching out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere to connect with friends, readers and influencers who can spread the word about their books. I have been in that mode, and it’s fun. If you’re there now, I salute you.

I think it’s fair to point out, however, that real advantages can come from minimizing social media. The biggest, most obvious gain is time. Minutes spent scrolling Twitter add up to hours stolen from writing a novel, and reclaiming that time is a huge boost for a writer’s productivity.

Focus is the next real advantage. It is hard enough to concentrate these days without social media luring us down rabbit holes. When we’re not drawn off into comparisons to other writers or their books, when we’re not distracted by jealousy or perplexity over how they’re managing to do all they do, we can focus on the page before us and get deeper into our art.

The last and possibly most important gain is the mindset of obscurity. It’s freeing to be unimportant, to believe that nobody cares, to accept that we’re not famous celebrities and aren’t failures because of this. It is vital to write in a safe, creative place, without worrying that others will judge what we think or do. This is much easier to achieve in a peaceful space, away from the rush and buzz of the Internet.

In short, it is worth considering what your platform actually serves. If it develops organically and naturally, through real connections and along lines of true interest, then it’s working, no matter how few or how many followers you have. If your platform ever interferes with your art, time-wise or emotionally, park it for a while. You’ll be glad you did.

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