On Tuesday evenings, I sometimes participate in a Twitter chat that goes by the hashtag #writestuff. It is, as you may surmise, about all things writing-related. It is hosted by writer (and writing coach) Andrea Cumbo. If you’re at interested in the process of writing, I recommend you check it out.
I mention the foregoing, because last night, the topic of discussion was publishing. Wouldn’t you know there was something of a divide between the importance of having stellar content, and of being connected, networked.
Like Robert Downey, jr. as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man, I ask: is it too much to ask for both? Why the divide at all? Yes, by all means, do the work, write engaging, awesome, content. But on the other hand, if it’s something you believe in, something you feel called to do, don’t be afraid to promote it. How can you can expect others to believe in something unless they see you believing in it, too?
Because, you see, there’s this almost unspoken belief that “if I write it, people will come.” But the fact is these days, that’s almost never true (yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but we’re not talking about those today). The cold, hard reality is that you can have a great book, a stellar proposal, but if you don’t have a platform, chances are you won’t get representation, find a publisher.
For me, having a platform simply means building relationships with like-minded folks. Like Bryan Allain says, it means having a “Killer Tribe.” If you don’t get anything else from this post today, don’t miss this: if people see you genuinely investing yourself in your platform–whatever that is–they will invest in you. I have experienced this firsthand; it is both humbling, and inspiring.
Yes, swing for the bleachers when you sit down to write, know the rules of grammar, sentence structure, etc. (Know how and when to break them, too). But don’t be afraid to invite people along on your journey, don’t be afraid to support them in theirs, because as magical as writing is, the real magic happens in the hearts and minds of people. If you have a message, you want to get it out there, right? Being connected means removing the barriers to get that message out.
Believe me, people today want to feel connected, want to share their stories, and want to share in yours. Let them see you believe. In your work–and in your platform.
Content is king, but being connected never hurts. If good, clean writing is a beautifully baked wedding cake, prepared by a master baker, then being connected is the frosting, and all of the decorative work on it. While being real, and working hard, make your cake as attractive as possible.
Have you ever been to a wedding? Imagine with me the moment the cake is brought out. It is a monumental moment, one preserved forever in photographs? Now imagine that cake–so skillfully blended, baked, and assembled–coming out completely unadorned. It is entirely devoid of frosting, fondant, frills.
No matter how delicious, would you eat a piece of that cake?