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.
Great point to remember, thank you Jodie.
Thankyou Jodie for your insightful thoughts.
My life is my platform – mainly in education and churches. I think the word platform has been overused and misaligned with Gods will. God opens our lives to various opportunities, interest groups and influential encounters. These are now labeled as platforms. Social media has allowed others into the privacy of our own lives. Sometimes to share these can be a misrepresentation of our true intent. For instance if I share that I’m a life coach and some testimony of this endeavor’s success – is that setting up a platform or just being delighted that I’ve had some success. It’s not a platform – it’s just doing what I’m good at and sharing it with my small circle of friends on social media. And let’s face it – even if you have 20000 friends on FB it’s still tiny compared to the world’s population. 😊The same as the various writers I know – and there are lots- showing encouraging comments about someone who had been helped by the books they’ve written. I have quite a few people I respect and really care for who post on social media regularly – sometimes twice a day. Is this setting up a platform or just inviting, celebrating and encouraging others. In the old days we would have sent letters, painted posters, and told all our friends to ‘ get the word out’ about our businesses or books or blogs or speaking engagements or retreats – but today it’s done differently. I enjoy seeing what you’re doing and I see your life as your platform- just like I see my other friends posts etc. we’re all different, called to different people, endeavors and use of our gifts and talents.
I love your deliberate intentionality and I admire you greatly. Your life is your platform and if I get a small glimpse of it I’ll champion you. Not because you’re building a platform but because the small “platform” or “soapbox” is a joy for me to support as a cheerleader for you. Just write and trust God with the outcome. Xxx
Julie, thank you for sharing your thoughts here, and particularly for that beautiful message and your encouragement of my writing. I love that last sentence in particular, I am going to write that out and put in on my board above my desk. xx
Great post. I loved what Steve said about ministry. “A book has no ministry until it is read, and a book cannot be read until it is purchased.” It’s certainly a tension we have to tread. Building a platform to get our books into the hands of the people we seek to share our message with can be difficult.
Doing our creative best no matter what we create is the key.
Lots to contemplate here.
Thanks Elaine, that is true, so much wisdom from Steve and I’m still working through what that looks like for me. xx