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Create Experiences For Your Readers

To succeed as a writer, you do not need a Twitter account. Or a website. Or a newsletter. Or even an email address.

What you need is to create experiences for your readers. Not things. Last week, I talked about the value of small moments, and I have been reflecting a lot on the term “author platform” recently. This has become a polarizing term – and one that I have been using less and less, even if what it represents is as important as it ever has been.

So let’s start with the basics: for many writers, these are the two primary goals:

  1. To craft meaningful work – to write.
  2. To connect that writing to the right audience.

Sometimes we take for granted that the second item in that list is an OPTION. Not everything needs to be shared. You do not have to publish, share your work, or give a moment’s thought to finding readers. That is a choice, and one that you should make proactively. If you don’t want to publish, don’t want to figure out how your writing can find readers, then you don’t have to. Just keep writing, and do so for the deeply personal goals that are your own, not that of other people. I think we often get off track focusing on OTHER people’s goals and values, not our own.

But… if you DO want to share your writing, THEN we need to talk about the two things that I feel define the term “platform”

  • Effective communication
  • Developing trust with the right people

And that inherent in this process is to create meaningful connections. The goal of the platform is not itself, but rather to help ensure those first two goals happen: you are able to craft your writing, and that it finds an engaged readership. You don’t “have” a platform – it’s not a thing. Platform is a PROCESS of communication and trust. It is not social media, something such as Twitter is merely a channel that connects you to others, giving you the OPPORTUNITY to earn trust with others. Your voice is the thing that matters on a social channel, not the channel itself.

And what you hope to create with readers are experiences.

Your books are clearly the ultimate experience, that is the core of everything. Which is why you need to protect your writing time, evolve your craft, and learn how to best produce the highest quality work. In fact, a good platform for your life as a writer should have a primary focus of PROTECTING your writing time, ensuring that the writing comes first. I was chatting with a couple of authors I worked with recently, and both of them said a primary outcome of working together is that they now have more time to write. That was incredible to hear, because the creative process for one’s writing is the heart of everything.

Beyond your books and writing, there are other experiences you can create for readers:

  • How you publish and share your writing. Is it accessible, and personal, and timely? Who have you partnered with that will resonate with your ideal readers?
  • How you the author – the creator behind the work – shares your own worldview and voice with readers. No, this is not a requirement, but it does matter for many readers, and is an opportunity for any creative professional. This is where you can choose to bring in elements such as social media, newsletters, book readings and events, etc. into your life and the lives of those you hope to connect with – all focused on voice, communication, and trust.
  • The experience that resonates in readers’ heads long after any of these things happen. After all, your legacy is written in the thoughts, attitudes, and actions of others.

What each of these experiences creates is an opportunity for you and your work to resonate with readers. And these moments tend to add up, affording you the likelihood that your NEXT book will build even deeper connections, and a broader audience.

So many writers I speak to are overwhelmed by the opportunities in front of them. There is simply too much they can be doing. Which is why it is so important to focus on a handful of specific actions, and eliminate all else. The life of a writer should not be creating the ability to juggle more stuff – but rather – honing and focusing. And yes, this does require a lot of difficult decisions along the way.

If you feel that you may want some help in this process, consider joining me and a group of writers for my 8-week online course which begins on January 27th: Get Read: Find Readers and Build Your Author Platform.

Thanks!
-Dan

  • Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

    Great post, Dan – I particularly appreciated your point about ‘sharing your worldview’. I have been so focused on posting about my writing process and novel development, that I have overlooked sharing the day-to-day inspiration that underlies my novel’s theme and milieu. I will definitely start working on blog posts that are more diverse, which I hope will help to develop a more personal and enlightening experience for readers. Thanks again!

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thank you so much!

  • Jamie Wallace

    Experience is the ultimate currency. Any strong brand – whether a software company or an artist – is built on its ability to create virtual and Real World experiences for its customers/patrons. People don’t need more things. They crave something that feels “real” … something that connects them to the world somehow. That’s experience.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Incredibly well put – thank you Jamie!
      -Dan

  • KeciaDilday

    Thanks for this, Dan. It really hones the message down to the essentials. I do think writers can get lost in the noise and forget the importance of protecting the writing time and that the writing is to entertain READERS! (Raises hand as guilty of this exact thing…) Because of lessons from you, I often wince when I read about Social Media “Best Practices.” :) Interestingly, your breakout bullet points for writing AND for platform are essentially the same thing (intentional?): 1) right communication 2) right audience. I am going to print these on cards and laminate. :D

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Kecia,
      Yes, that was intentional. To me, it is so critical to ensure the creative process is the center of our work, and that we are clear with ourselves about our true goals. Too often, I think folks choose the wrong goals, and forget WHY they write. Being clear on that allows you the opportunity to make some hard decisions about how to reframe your entire life in order to create not just the work you love, but the identity you desire or want to connect to others. Thanks – and I really appreciate YOUR blog post today!
      -Dan

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  • Pamela Taeuffer

    I’ve been working on my value statements for months and have come up with some good one, but still pause when someone asks me “what is your book about” — I have to silently and quickly give myself the message “remember to talk about the values” Good blog.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thanks Pamela! Much like public speaking, feeling good in that process is a matter of time and experience. Just keep repeating it and it will begin to feel more natural.
      -Dan

  • Eleanor Vincent

    “In fact, a good platform for your life as a writer should have a primary focus of PROTECTING your writing time, ensuring that the writing comes first.” I’m going to have this tattooed on my forehead. Thank you!

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Ha! Thanks Eleanor!
      -Dan

  • Carrie Ann Lahain

    I love your focus on platform as a Process rather than some sort of object to obtained.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thank you!
      -Dan

  • Penelope Silvers

    What down to earth and “whew!” worthy advice. You are offering up that cup of cool water to many a parched writer. Thanks, Dan!

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thank you Penelope!