Building a Platform When You Don’t Like to Be Up Front
“So, tell me about your platform.”
If you meet with editors, quickly you’ll hear this familiar and often dreaded question. For some, that is a welcomed question, and they launch into a long explanation of their speaking engagements, plans for a book tour, and social media connections.
Most authors, however, shudder at this question and secretly mumble, “I’m a writer, not a speaker.” Through the years I’ve met many fabulous writers who were not natural-born speakers. The thought of standing in front of a room full of people eagerly hanging on their every word terrifies them.
If I’m describing you, I want to give you encouragement and some tools to help you answer the platform question. Let me assure you that you don’t have to be an inspirational speaker to have a platform.
In the publishing world, a platform is place where you and your readers engage. Notice I didn’t say anything about speaking. Yes, for some that includes speaking, and at Speak Up you have great teachers who can help you become more comfortable speaking in a small group setting or online. But I invite you to think outside of the box, and when you do, the possibilities of connecting to readers is endless.
There are online book clubs and discussion groups who love to connect with authors through online chats or in Zoom calls. Small group Bible studies and affinity groups often invite the author to discuss what she has written. Writing your own blog or guest blogging for others is another great way to connect to readers. And if you’ve written a book, we know you can write, so get those fingers typing and write articles. Everywhere your topic is being discussed, participate in written and verbal ways so you are recognized as knowledgeable in that field.
I used the word expert and some of you may bristle at that title. Like it or not, if you are writing, blogging, guest speaking, or you have a book—you are an expert. Embracing this moniker was a game-changer for me. When I wrote my first book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life on spiritual discernment, I knew I was not the expert. At least not in the same categories as some of the greats who wrote on this topic. However, a wise advisor one day called me on this faulty thinking. He said, “If you aren’t an expert, then why should anyone read what you have to say?” He was right.
We are experts when we choose to put our thoughts on paper and ask others to read them. We are saying we have something to say that they need to hear. So, this is how I got around my own aversion to seeing myself as the expert. I know I’m not the be-all and end-all on this topic, but God has given me a message that I ought not hide under a bushel. The only way others will value what I have to say is if I value it, and I can do that by bathing what I write and say in prayer and asking God to make it be what He needs it to be for those who need to hear it. With that in mind, are you willing to be the expert He’s called you to be?
Are you willing to build a platform—a place from which you can reach into the lives of readers—so God can reach the people He’s ordained you to reach? When you change your mindset, the possibilities of building an audience become limitless—and the result is that He gets the glory.
Cheri Cowell is the Founder and Owner of EABooks Publishing, and the author of Marketing as Ministry: It’s Not About You or Your Book. She is also both an independently and traditionally published author, including the award-winning 365 Devotions for Peace (Zondervan), and Parables and Word Pictures Bible study (AMG Publishers). Her other books include Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life (Beacon Hill), and the One Story, One Mission, One God Bible study. She’s published over 500 articles and countless devotions. With her experience as an author and as a publisher, Cheri has a unique approach and abundant grace when working with authors to bring their dreams to reality.