Not necessarily! Publishers approached business coach Carrie Wilkerson, aka The Barefoot Executive, because of her strong platform — they knew she had a following and that her audience would be excited to read her book.
In this guest blog, Carrie shares her advice for building your platform and gaining the credibility and visibility you need to be a successful author.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is a philosophical question that seemingly has no answer. Arguably there is only a sound if someone is there to receive the sound waves, right?
Your message, your story, your speech and your book are much the same way. The sound they make is–dare I say it–irrelevant, if there is no one there to watch you, hear you or read you.
The phenomenon is that as speakers, teachers and writers, we tend to get wrapped up in ‘the thing.’ We spend so much time reading, editing, practicing and perfecting for our ‘someday’ audience that we lose sight of the fact that we don’t have an audience, yet.
Call it a platform, a database or a following on social media, but you must have someone ‘listening’ in order to make an impact of any kind.
Unlike the fictional account in the famous Kevin Costner movie ‘Field of Dreams…’ Just because we build it, doesn’t mean ‘they’ will come. We will not draw crowds of raving fans or hordes of like-minded believers simply because we take the microphone or the pen in hand, no matter how great we believe our message is or our skills are.
The truth is actually counter-intuitive. Must we really gather a crowd in the forest before we begin to chop the tree? Yes! Now is the time to start surrounding yourself with others who will (or might) be interested in what you have to say. Audience building now takes priority over book proposal writing, creating your speaker reel or even polishing your shoes, your suit or your presentation.
Perhaps a less philosophical example is teen pop sensation Justin Bieber. Justin didn’t progress through the ranks of the Disney or Nickelodeon star-makers. He didn’t pitch studio after studio on his music until he found someone to listen. Justin honed his craft while building his audience through YouTube videos and social media channels.
Whether you are a ‘Belieber’ or not, Justin hosted mini concerts at public venues and invited fans and friends through social media. Eventually, his self-selected audience roared so loud and so big that a major label could not deny his stardom. His platform demanded it.
That’s all fine and good, but how to apply this, today? Establish some credibility by publishing yourself first.
- Consistently publish to your blog.
- Guest post to other blogs with similar markets.
- Collect emails on your blog and keep in touch.
- Consider producing a podcast.
- Create a Facebook Fan/Like Page.
- Start a LinkedIn or Facebook Group.
- Be a guest interview for other blogs, podcasts, BlogTalk Radio, teleconference calls, webinars and more.
- Make short YouTube videos for your own channel.
In short, Publish Yourself. If you are waiting for a book deal or a big speaking contract to validate your work, your message or to make you famous… you’re going to be waiting and waiting and waiting. Wouldn’t you rather be helping others now? Wouldn’t you rather be making ripples and waves right away? I know I would!
Your key asset for any publisher or producer is not going to be your manuscript or your demo reel, but the audience you bring with you.
Much like another riddle, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” — I could similarly pose this question, “Which came first, the platform or the publishing?” and the answer would be… “Yes.”
Want more ideas for building your platform, making a name for yourself, and building a strong business as a writer, speaker or coach? Check out Carrie Wilkerson’s book, The Barefoot Executive.