Friday, June 17, 2016

Unpublished? Do You Need An Online Platform?

We often hear editors and agents talking about platforms and having an online presence. One question that I am frequently asked is whether or not an unpublished author needs to build one even before being published. I am personally someone who says you do not need one (unless you are a non-fiction author and that is a different story).

The idea behind having that platform and presence out there is to draw readers to your books and writing. It is a marketing tool that, in this day, is crucial with so much material being digital. But, here is the thing. Again, I said it is a marketing tool. You are selling your product to the public, and the key here is that you have something to sell. If you are unpublished and still on the quest for that elusive contract, then you don't have a product.

I know that a lot of people have this belief that you need to have that following and if you can find those followers you will be more appealing to editors and agents. They seem to think that people will want to watch you write this book and follow you on this journey toward publication. The odds are, they will not be interested in a work in progress. They want to know what your next project is AFTER they have gotten excited about your latest book.

I will also say that the belief that editors and agents are out there, spending time reading your blogs and looking at your websites is not true. They are not out there trolling for new clients. They may go and visit your website if they are loving your current submission, but even then, many just don't have the time.

Personally, you need to spend the time working on your craft. Create a great story and get that contract first. Yes, you will need to get a website going AFTER the contract is in, but even then, you are looking at 6 months to a full year before that book is out and you have readers interested in what you are doing.

Now,  I did say that non-fiction is different. In this case, showing that you are an expert is a key element of your submission package. You do have to show you are the best person for the job, and having that following is important. Essentially, that web presence IS the groundwork for your book.

So, if you are someone heading to a conference this summer and you hear people screaming about websites, or they are trying to get you to buy their services to build you that site, hold off on it. Focus on your writing. You will be much happier and certainly be able to keep that money to buy yourself a couple cups of coffee.

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