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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who's Responsible for Platform? Author or Publisher?

I came across a 5-part series blog on Death of Traditional Publishers? by Author Kris Tuella. While I don't believe traditional publishing is dead, I do believe it is changing and facing some unique challenges and competition that won't go away.

Traditional publishing won't die, but it will have to transform in order to survive. It's a business and true leaders understand that transformations like this happen in every business and industry. Innovative leaders look at this time as a great opportunity. It's a time to try new business models, be creative, and get excited!

Authors need to realize they are a business and it's an exciting time for them as much as anyone else in the industry. So many opportunities are opening up to authors that didn't exist before. Authors now have direct access to readers regardless of where they live. The Internet and social media are a new tool that Christian writers can use as a writing ministry.

After reading this series, I thought it was very informative and brought out some perspectives I haven't before considered, so I've posted links at the bottom of this post.

I've always been a staunch advocate of traditional publishers and will continue to be. Many traditional publishers have been supportive, helpful, and wonderful to work with. However, I'm also one who believes in computers, online platforms, and author marketing. That said, as an author, I'd be like an ostrich with my head buried in the sand, if I didn't take every advantage of what traditional publishers can offer and what I can do in promoting myself, my work, and building my online platform and that of my clients. I view my relationship with publishers as a partnership.

With the ever-present changing world of publishing, authors must try and survive--to do their part. It isn't the publisher's job to build an author's platform. If those days ever existed, they're over. 

One thing these articles drive home is the fact that author brands sell books not publisher brands. To borrow from a key point posted by Tuella, no one goes around saying, "I just bought a Random House book." Instead, you'll hear people saying, "I just bought a Karen Kingsbury book."

People notice when you go the extra mile or take a few additional steps to do more than you HAVE to do. They not only, notice, but they remember and appreciate it. They may even promote it to others. 

Below are the promised links to Kris Tuella's blog articles. 

Death of Traditional Publishers?
(Note: These links are to a secular blog)

Part IV - The Game Changer by Robert W. Walker

Part V - The Game Changer by Robert W. Walker (Continued)


  1. As I enter my 15th year as a published writer, I find it amazing that authors are still being told they must strive to "be a business" and to "brand" themselves using some "platform" (a nicer word for sales gimmicks). This is straight from the traditional publishing playbook, and it's been so overdone now it no longer works but for a small percentage of brand-name authors.

    The facts are this: the single greatest sales tool for any product is word of mouth. Book sales are generated when authors put 90% of their focus into writing good books, and the remainder in creating a physical product (be it a print or e-book) constructed with quality. This is what gets people talking to others, and brings a real audience to the writer.

    Commercial success is fleeting. If this business/branding idea was such a good one, why aren't we all so successful at it? Writers beware of this mindset! Learn to be a WRITER and to be satisfied in that, because if you shoot for this whole hype of branding yourself, creating your own publishing company, etc. ad nauseum you'll grow weary and poor. You'll also likely stop writing, throwing up your hands in frustration (believe me, I've been there)!

    I've learned God honors me when I keep my eye on the message, and thank Him daily for blessing me with the talent to do something I love. I believe this is why my Christian novels have outsold by secular fiction 120 to 1. As William Faulkner once observed: "Never strive to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors, only strive to be better than yourself."

  2. There are two things you said that I will agree with whole heartedly: 1)Word of Mouth is still the #1 marketing tool regardless of promotional efforts, but that doesn't mean one should sit back and let the chips fall where they may. 2)Christian authors should ALWAYS keep their eye on the msg God has given them in their work and keep Him first.

    The other thing I would like to point out is that the definition of success is different for each individual and so are their goals.

    I disagree that commercial success is fleeting. Too many businesses are built on branding themselves and they are very successful. Not every author is successful for the same reasons that not every business is successful. Some do not have a good enough product, some can't handle the stress of writing, researching and promotion. Some have more time and money to invest from other sources besides their writing, some struggle with the balance of a full-time job, writing, family and life, etc.

    I would also like to point out that as far as publishing is concerned, I am first an author, second a publicist. Marketing and communications is my day job and I believe in promoting one's platform. It isn't hype. It's common-sense business. I believe in what I do.

    Fifteen years ago, you were published at a time when the publishing industry WAS different. You may have had time to establish yourself as a writer, but new writers today are facing a whole new set of challenges that digital publishing has brought without the platform that you've already organically created. It's no different than graduates today who are trying to break into their careers compared to graduates of yesterday. Some things stay the same, while other things change.

    I applaud you for staying focused on your msg, thanking God daily for your blessings. Don't judge authors like myself who also stay focused on our msg, thank God daily for our blessings, and also add an additional component of building our platforms. God will honor us as much as He honors you.


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