Helen Hart of SilverWood Books recently sent out a tweet pointing to what I found to be an extremely interesting, though equally daunting, post by Jane Friedman giving an Author Platform Definition – I encourage anyone who is thinking about writing, is writing or, like me, has already written something to read this in full because it seems you need to get going on building this platform as early as you can.
When I was first submitting my work to literary agents I was asked to add in any accomplishments to my submission package only to find sadly that I had none, at least none that were relevant, not thinking agents would be interested to read that I’d once reached the heady heights of Grade 4 violin and had a qualification to teach riding. I had been too busy writing to think of anything else that might be required by the publishing world and that is clearly a mistake.
The post written by Friedman reads like a list of desirable accomplishments the like of which I can only remember being as intimidated by as those expected in an accomplished woman in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Miss Bingley stated that “‘A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and the modern languages to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’
‘All this she must possess,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’”
I have always loved Elizabeth Bennett’s response, “’I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.’”
Friedman tells us, “Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find online or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best.
It is more about putting in consistent effort over the course of a career, and making incremental improvements in extending your network. It’s about making waves that attract other people to you—not about begging others to pay attention.”
In true Elizabeth Bennett style I am determined not to be intimidated by this thing called platform, though, as I attempt to overcome my many shortcomings, I am fully aware and in agreement with Friedman as she ends her post “It’ll be a long journey.”
Currently reading ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith
The problem I find is that any attempts to build an author platform are very time consuming. Whilst I agree that it’s important to reach readers and engage with them, it is difficult at times to balance that with finding time to write. I think this is a problem that many authors have, particularly Independents who undertake all their own publicity.
That is what I’m finding and whilst enjoyable I’m finding my writing time is in short supply! I guess realising it is a ‘long journey’ is half the battle – but I’m so damned impatient!
You sound just like me. I plan to achieve so many things and they always take much longer than I anticipated, but I do client work too so I have to fit the book writing and promotion in between. 🙂