Generosity should be your platform

Next week I’m teaching a class that Jane Friedman is hosting! The title: “I Hate Social Media–Now What? How to develop word-of-mouth marketing, and get the publicity you want, with or without social media.” There is a $25 fee, and it will be a fun class. I prepared a brand new presentation just for this session. Register here.

Okay, onto today’s post…

So I saw this the other day, a new video from someone I follow on YouTube:


That is Rick Beato. In the past few years, has quickly amassed almost 3 million subscribers, creating videos analyzing music. With his newfound fame, he’s been landing in-depth interviews with Sting, Peter Frampton, Brian May and may others. In the video above, Rick is using his platform to give attention to a musician he greatly admires, but who hasn’t amassed much of a following online.

What Rick is doing here is shining a light on someone with generosity. His 11 minute video discusses why this other musician is so good, and encourages viewers to follow that musician on Spotify, YouTube, etc.

I love this.

Of course, the value of this kind of generosity is easy to see when it’s Rick with his 3 million followers. But you have this same power. You have the power to shine a light on writers, artists, and creators who inspire you. Your platform as a writer can be infused with generosity. In many ways, amplifying others is built into social media, via the “like” and “reshare” buttons. But what Rick is doing here is next level. I challenge you to do the same. And to be honest, I’m challenging myself to do the same.

Instead of just recommending a book here and there, instead of just doing a #FollowFriday on Twitter, instead of just linking to someone, what if you gushed about them? What if you celebrated them in a big way? What if you honored what they create? What could you do that would make their week, their month, or even their year. (Yes, I lifted that from the Friends theme song.)

What if you took on the role of someone who shares with ridiculous generosity? Back in December on my podcast, I did a profile on Zibby Owens titled, “What Zibby Owens Can Teach Us About Establishing Your Platform.” When she started her podcast interviewing authors, she didn’t just do one a month or one a week. At first it was one every 4-5 days. But then quickly it was one every 3 days. Then one every single day. Seriously, go look at her archive of podcast episodes, scroll alllllllll the way back to the beginning, then just look at the dates as you move forward in the list.

This is what generosity looks like.

It’s also what building a truly astounding career looks like. Every time I look, Zibby seems to be launching some huge new venture. It’s just amazing. I don’t have a way to characterize what she is achieving beyond how she describes herself on her homepage: “Zibby Owens. Author, Podcaster, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Book-fluencer, and Mother of 4.”

Why do this? Why focus on generosity when you may be approaching the idea of developing an author platform specifically to focus people on your writing? Well, for one, it feels good. I mean, the world is a complex place, if you can create a little bit of good in the world, that is a very — VERY — welcome thing.

So much of what it means to develop a platform is to not only grow awareness with what you create, but a sense of trust with readers and those who may share about your work. What gets people’s attention? To be seen. To be recognized. To feel an authentic connection. Of course, you want that for your work. But what if you initiated? What if you modeled the behavior you hope from others?

Want others to notice you? Notice them first.

What if you:

  • Identified other writers that your ideal readers may know.
  • Were then ridiculously generous in promoting their work.
  • Used that as an excuse to make a personal connection to the writer. And maybe even the readers.

This is work. It requires you to consider what other books your ideal readers already like. So many authors struggle with this. Then, it requires you to consider a critical question: what would truly support this author? I mean, beyond a retweet. Is it to give away their book? Promote their newsletter? Get people to an upcoming event?

Empathy is key here. To consider a metric that would really matter to this author. Something that would grab their attention. Some ideas:

  • Can you promote a book from someone that has been out for a year. Can you spend a week doing it? Like, you give the week a theme, you create a virtual party, you have some friends help you out.
  • Could you bake a cake with an authors book cover on it? Or better… bake cupcakes, but decorate each one as a different character from the book. Then share that on social media, maybe send them to the author.
  • Could you send the author a letter, written with a fountain pen, just gushing about their book? Seal the letter with wax, send them a photo of their book in a prime place on your bookshelf.
  • Could you organize 20 people to show up for an author event — all in costume from the book?

Are these ideas bonkers? Yep. Would every one of them get the attention of the author. OH YES. And of course, I’m just brainstorming here, there are thousands of other ideas. My point is this: don’t do the obvious easy thing. Go overboard. For writing. For art. For readers. For supporting the things you want to see more of in this world.

Oh, and this is applicable for reaching influencers too. But you don’t have to start there. Find a writer whose book could use some love. Then, deliver it.