Lately, I've seen several blog posts and comments from authors suggesting that platform building and marketing is all a bunch of hype. The controversy centers around whether it is the responsibility of the author or the publisher, and the marketing ploys that take advantage of people without really helping, as well as concepts that cause authors to overburden themselves with unrealistic expectations.
I believe there is value on both sides of the argument, but we can't lose sight of the facts and our ultimate career goals as writers.
I believe it belongs to both the author and the publisher. It's a fact that publishers do less than they use to do and many admit it. The fact that this is happening doesn't mean it's right or fair. Yet, it's our new reality, and we must learn to deal with it if we choose to be published authors.
Let's look at who has more at stake if the book doesn't succeed. Is it the author or publisher?
The publisher will lose money, and even that is something they can recoup in a better selling book. Therefore, they may decide not to publish future books by that author. Authors are easily replaced and new voices are rising up each day.
On the other hand, the author will lose money, credibility, and possible career set-backs. Readers don't look for publisher names on books. They look for author names. It isn't the publisher's career at stake, but the author's career. We are left to work with the resources that are given to us, and if the publisher isn't going to provide the necessary marketing and promotion, and the author wants the book to do well, it falls to the author. Complaining and resisting won't change the facts. It is, what it is.
Marketing ploys are in abundance and some of these are hype, but not all of them. Authors have to learn to weed out the bad and weave in the good where it can fit into their busy lives and schedules. Platform IS important. You can put a million dollar budget on your book, but if all that money is being spent on cold-calls, cold-ads, cold-announcements -- meaning none of the people have ever heard of you, it's a waste of money. Having a platform changes the game. People in your platform/network have heard of you, feel like they know you, feel that your work and your word has credibility, and they are more willing to pluck down their hard earned money for your book.
Concepts that overburden authors with unrealistic expectations ARE real. Authors feel overwhelmed, scattered everywhere, and they lose focus. You can't be expected to do everything, and no one is expecting you to. Some of us are our own worst enemy. We hear a few things and we automatically assume we must do this, that, and the other without sitting down praying about it, and fitting into our schedule logically and strategically. I've mentioned it before, create a Marketing Plan. It will help you focus on the needs that you need to be doing today, as you work toward your goals for a higher platform tomorrow.
When I find myself starting to complain and I'm feeling overwhelmed, that's when I need to sit down, pray and re-evaluate where I've lost my focus.
- What new things have I taken on and allowed into my schedule that wasn't planned?
- Am I comparing myself to others--way too much?
- Am I spending quality time with God and seeking Him about my burdens, essentially turning it all over to Him?
- Did my editor/agent really say this or that had to be done or did I assume it just because they mentioned it would be a great idea. Do I need to get clarification?
- Am I being impatient, expecting results now that in reality are going to take a year or several years to accomplish?