Audience: fellow writers, aspiring authors
As a writer, I’ve been told that I need to have a platform. For many writers, this means starting a blog. But for those of us writers who just want to write our novel and not get mired in keeping up with social media (which can be a job in and of itself), we feel that we have no options. After all, the first question we anticipate getting from a prospective literary agent is “What’s your platform?”
So I looked for advice on the web.
Why Blog—From the Writer Who Said Goodbye to Blogging covers one writer’s response to this issue. Publisher and author L.L. Barkat began years ago with myspace.com and eventually moved on to blogging to help promote her work. She found that the currency of the realm was “reciprocity” (commenting on other people’s blogs and posts to ensure she received the same). Eventually she became overwhelmed with the amount of time she was devoting to staying current with social media, and in 2012 she pulled the plug altogether. Her advice to writers was to avoid blogging from the get-go. After 6 years, she has returned to blogging, but with the caveat of turning off comments on all her posts. This has allowed her “a peaceful place for me and for my readers. And this is in line with the times.”
As an introvert, I must admit that I was immediately drawn to this concept of getting myself out there with a blog, but circumventing the draining aspects that go along with staying current. On the other hand, L.L. Barkat is an established author with an existing readership already in place, while I have yet to publish my first book. Could this also work for beginning writers?
I wanted to get another viewpoint, so I turned to our reading Social Media is Bullshit by B. J. Mendelson. He argues that social media is essentially an irrelevant waste of time, and that old-fashioned marketing advice is where you should actually begin placing your efforts:
“America is perceived as an every-man-and-woman-for-themselves kind of place, but it’s not. It’s a place where we look out for each other and take care of our own. And part of doing that is by calling out bullshit like ‘social media.’ […] The reason the generic stuff [old-fashioned marketing advice] works is it has all been done, proven, and tested since the time Jesus rode around on a Brontosaurus. On my desk right now is a second edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People. After reading almost every popular marketing book that’s come out since 2001, and this book, originally published in 1936, I can conclude one thing: If Dale Carnegie were alive today, he’d sue all these guys for plagiarism.”
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle. While I intend to begin a blog on the recommendation of the author community in general, maybe it’s also not the worst idea to reach out to local brick-and-mortar media outlets and become my own publicist (or hire one if I can afford it).