Growing a robust platform through online marketing is most often a task associated with nonfiction writers. However, novelist Katherine Reay believes this is the job of the fiction writer as well.
In a conversation with hope*writers, Katherine gives novelists the following advice, based on her own personal experience, for growing platforms and building a loyal readership.
When it comes to a strong social media following, a large subscriber list, or other marketing metrics, the starting line is the same for all of us. No one has a built-in platform, and all writers have to work hard to build a following or readership from scratch.
Rather than waste headspace lamenting a small beginning, we can embrace our platforms for what they are right now while still holding on to hope for growth. Our modest beginnings will grow as we continue to build our platforms with equal parts fun, effort, and strategy.
It’s easy for platform building to feel like a chore rather than a choice. Writers can feel pressured to build a platform while building a body of work, and one way to combat this pressure is to chase the fun.
When we chase the fun, we increase our motivation to post online, and we connect to readers with pleasure rather than out of protest. Readers can sense when you’re not having fun, so experimenting with various social media platforms and email communication can help you determine what feels good to you while also giving the results you desire.
Readers will return to your stories because of the unique way in which you tell them. When creating social media posts or writing newsletters, it’s important that your voice remains consistent, so you’re the same wherever your readers find you.
It can be tempting to take on a voice similar to a writer who appears to be successful in platform building, but readers are looking for consistency. They’re looking for an authentic glimpse into the writer’s brain, where your stories come from, and what your life looks like as you create.
When you are authentic and share in your unique voice, it reassures readers that your voice is trustworthy.
Platform building can easily become a rabbit hole into which we disappear and get lost, rather than a task to check off of our to-do list. We may get sidetracked scrolling on social media, spend too much time writing small platform pieces to the detriment of our stories, or find ourselves overspending our creative energy in the wrong places.
To avoid losing yourself in the process, set limits for your social media usage, create a posting schedule, and decide on specific platform building tasks. You don’t need to be available at all times or use all of the platforms available to you.
Dedicated writers have a regular rhythm of writing. Writing rhythms are specific to each of us depending on our everyday responsibilities and season in life. In the same way, our platform building efforts will be specific to our individual needs. Your writing time takes priority, but it’s also important to build dedicated time into your schedule for marketing and building a readership.
By setting a schedule for posting on social media, replying to readers, writing articles, blog posts, or newsletters, you can be sure your stories reach the people who will love them.
As in all areas of writing, comparison robs us of our ability to do our best work. Our energy can quickly become consumed with other writers and the size of their platform. Creativity and connection come from a place of confidence and security in what we have to offer our readers.
It doesn’t serve you to compare your platform, writing, or readership to other authors, and it doesn’t serve those who follow your work. Comparison fools us into thinking we’re behind or somehow less of a success in our work.
Katherine reminds writers, “There’s no timeline here. If there’s a timeline, it’s because you're comparing yourself to somebody else. This is your journey.”
Do you ever feel stuck in your writing journey? Katherine also offers her best tips for avoiding writer’s block in her conversation with hope*writers. Click here for free access to our entire conversation with Katherine and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.