Project versus Platform

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“time is the most valuable thing that we have, because it is the most irrevocable.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison.

I’ve been seriously writing for about five years. I’ve finished two novellas, one novel, and have begun work on another novel. Soon, I will begin the task of putting together book proposals! I am excited for the next step in my writing life (submissions) but there is a lot of work to do in the meantime, namely building my platform here.

This is where the friction begins. While it is fun and it is still writing, blogging is not the same as working on a novel. It is tough when you are trying to build your platform on the fly as well as finish a book and have other obligations as well. There is constant give. Poor blogs mean better novel writing. But poor blogs also mean less of an audience. It is a constant give and take. A constant reevaluation of my time, how I can spend it and still be the most productive possible.

How do you do this writer? How do you balance the rigors of life with the challenges of building a platform and writing your novels?

Cheers,

Bob

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7 thoughts on “Project versus Platform

  1. As writers of fiction, we have an advantage in that our platform is 75% dependent on the quality of our writing, and 25% the other stuff. Publishers like to see that we have a marketing plan and lots of followers on our blogs and tons of facebook friends (and maybe some kind of relationship with Oprah), but if we don’t have a book that is worth reading, there’s a good chance we’ll get passed over. With non-fiction, you need to be an authority in your field, but in fiction, our writing is what makes us an authority.

    As far as how to balance the blogging vs. novel-writing, I’m still figuring it out myself. I think with your blog, as long as you are consistent and your readers know when to expect new content from you, it wouldn’t matter if you posted once a week, three times a week, or everyday (though if you post every five minutes, I’ll stop following you). The caveat again is quality.

    Fortunately, you always provide good content, so I’m happy to keep coming back. And I, for one, look forward to when you are published (and can give my book the endorsement that will be part of my own platform).

  2. Josh, thanks for the great comment. I agree with your comment about blogging. Consistancy is key in building an audience. I have discovered that is true indeed. Now, I just need to find some time today to get more words down on the new novel. If only I did not have to refinish the hardwood floors tonight! I feel a word challenge is in my near future to get back on pace.

  3. Bob, I think you’ve asked a 10-million-dollar question. I wish I knew a satisfying answer. I don’t, though. What I tell people is that if you set a schedule for yourself for writing a marketing, and if you stick to it, you’ll probably be happier. I don’t really know if that truly answers your question, but it might at least be helpful for your sanity.

    Here’s a rough example of what I mean:
    a) Commit to writing the best book you can. Set writing goals and go for them, whatever they may be.
    b) Find a few managable ways to help build your platform that you can do along the way that won’t become a road block to finishing your book. Maybe committ to 3 posts a week. 1 of which will be a video from youtube related to your content. With the time you save not blogging, you are finishing your book.
    c) after the book is finished you begin the process of finding a publisher. While this is going on increase your daily marketing work (maybe you’re blogging every day now and maybe you’ve also started to use Twitter or some other service to reach people) and you’re only writing new material on Saturdays (or something like that).

    See what I mean? It’s a tricky balance. And again, I’m not sure this truly answers your question, but for some folks I think it’s been a helpful framework. I think every writer struggles with this balance. Even the famous ones.

    AR

  4. Andy, you have always been a tremendous source of information. Thanks for this reply. With your knowledge of the publishing industry I have been guided toward this eagerly anticipated submissions time. Thanks for the tips and thanks for the comment as usually. I appreciate it friend.

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  7. Anne Kathryn Smith

    This is a wonderful (yet stress-inducing) question, Bob. I think Josh phrased the answer well… basically, let your followers know what to expect from you and keep it minimal. The quality is all that matters, provided it arrives on schedule. If you structure your social media so that it works with an update in one location causing a chain of updates on different websites, you don’t have to work as hard to reach a lot of people. I advocated this approach to platforming in my recent article, which you can read here:http://anneksmith.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/the-benefits-of-a-platform/.

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