Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own lifeGalatians 6:5 (MSG)
Anyone who has been around the writing world for a while has heard the word platform. When you pitch your book idea to an agent or publisher you need to show them your platform. That is the number of people you can reach through your speaking events, blog, and social media.
Platform is one means by which a publisher knows if a book is going to sell. For it is a fact of life that the publication process requires money, and a publisher needs to know that their investment will be recovered and built upon.
But most authors are introverts, and as creatives we feel that our art should speak for itself. We don’t want to do the work of creating a platform as it sounds icky and self-serving. But how does anyone know about our work if we don’t speak about it?
This month I attended the Omega Writers conference in Sydney. The guest speaker was an agent from the US, Steve Laube. He summed up this tension between the creative side of the writing craft and the marketing side of the craft beautifully when he said, “A book has no ministry until it is read, and a book cannot be read until it is purchased.”
I needed to sit with that statement a minute.
For my book to reach people it must be first bought.
Then it can be read.
Then it can minister to people.
As I have written a book on grief and lament, this resonated with me. I want my book to be something people can read as they journey through times of pain and sorrow. I want it to be a companion to them as they navigate the journey of their own grief. But for anyone to read this book it must first be bought, then read.
And this brings once again the tension between being a creative and building a platform. But if I think of this as not building a platform but instead a ministry of reaching those who could be comforted by my book then that tension eases.
In all of this I find it most helpful to think of the words of Galatians in the Message version.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
I am responsible for doing the creative best I can with my own life.
What about you? What are you creating? How is it ministering to the people around you? For each of us is responsible for doing the creative best with our own life.