Last month, I talked about my visit to a meeting of the Missouri Writers Guild and the importance of being vulnerable. I was there to attend a seminar on self-publishing given by fantasy author Liz Schulte. Liz didn’t know she wanted to be a writer until she started writing her first novel and then she was hooked. Although she has only been writing since 2011, she has produced an impressive body of work with well over 20 books to her credit. I thought others could benefit from hearing her advice on self-publishing and building a platform.
JP: What is the most common misconception about self-publishing?
LS: There are several misconceptions so it is hard to narrow it down. From a writer’s stand point, I believe a lot of people get into writing or self-publishing believing they will be an “overnight success”. The problem with that is for many people who the title is given, it took years and years of writing and a publishing and learning in order to become an “overnight success”.
From the outside of self publishing, the biggest misconception people have is that we don’t work as hard or hone our craft. While that might be true for some, most of the successful self-publishers do just that. We work long days and constantly try to better ourselves and our writing so we can become an “overnight success”
JP: What comprises an author’s “platform”?
LS: Everything an author does is their platform. It’s your brand, your books, your social media presence, and it’s the information being shared about you. Your platform indicates your ability to reach readers and can help determine the initial influx of sales with a new book, but it is also the promise you make to a reader. For example, a reader who is familiar with my books knows when she/he picks one of the books up it will have a sassy heroine, high stakes, quick action, and emotional bang. That is what my readers expect from my books so now it has become part of my brand and part of my platform.
JP: What advice would you give to a new author who has no platform?
LS: Not to worry specifically about building a platform. A new writer should concern themselves with writing their books and finding their voice while initiating a social media presence. The very best thing any new author can do is to be themselves. If you are trying to manufacture a brand or platform, then not only will it make you miserable in the long run, but it will come across as disingenuous.
JP: How much time can a new author expect to spend on building their platform?
LS: No time. It will come organically. The more you write and the more you connect with the readers who connect with you, then the larger your reach will become.
JP: What are the benefits to self-publishing if you have an active platform?
LS: Then you will come with an active reader base which could potentially translate into sales.