I still feel near giddy about the fact that after 15+ years of fleshing out the ideas that undergird it, my book “10:10: Life to the Fullest” is finally about to become real!
The journey of writing has been filled with a number of high’s and low’s though, and I imagine I could blog ad nausea about some of those. The journey has also been filled with some pretty significant tension points, and I began to allude to some of those in my last post. This week I am going to highlight some of the most significant tensions I have felt along the path of publishing.
The first tension is the near obsession that the publishing industry seems to have with the word “platform.” Michael Hyatt has written the gold standard on the subject, and the sub-title gets to the essence of the word: “Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” On his website he describes why a platform is so important:
“As the former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest publishers in the world, I’ve met hundreds of hugely talented people with outstanding ideas. Unfortunately, most of them couldn’t get published. Why? They didn’t have a ‘platform.'”
Now at some level this makes absolute sense. We live in a day and age where every person that owns a laptop and a blog can claim to be an expert on whatever topic they choose. There are also more voices to sort through than at any point in history, and I’m sure Hyatt is right: There are lots of hugely talented people with outstanding ideas, and many of them never get the chance to have their ideas heard and interacted with.
I’ve read his book (and liked it), I’ve become a student of social media, and in all honesty, I’ve worked hard to fortify my platform. And yet, even as I acknowledge all that, I must admit that everything about it makes me uncomfortable. There is something so off in the human soul as it is – some part of us that so desperately wants to claw above the pack and bring attention to ourselves – and the whole platform thing colludes with that human brokenness in a way that makes me really uncomfortable.
And it’s not just at the individual level that I feel the tension. The whole marketplace is now organized around the idea of platform. Let me give a hypothetical (or not) example to make this point. Take Book A. It has incredibly original ideas, clever writing, and helpful application. But the author is not well known, doesn’t have much of a platform, and isn’t a marketing whiz.
Then take Book B. There is not much original content, the writing feels really ordinary, and you are not going to come away feeling all that challenged and inspired. But the author is coming out of a really well known mega-church, and the marketing strategy is fueled by a cutting edge social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Thunderclap – the whole thing.
Which of these books is going to do better commercially?
I wish the answer wasn’t so painfully obvious. But it is. A crappy book with great marketing has a WAY better chance of doing well than an awesome book with crappy marketing.
Call it the Age of the Platform.
This is a tension I feel at a deep level. I’ve done a lot of work to position my book to do well given the reality of the need for a platform, but that’s not what I’m even talking about right now. I am thinking of the dozens of voices I know that have SO many important ideas to share with the world. They are amazing thinkers, feelers, and doers, and their writings would do so much to create transformation near and far.
But most of them don’t have a platform.
I’m not okay with that. I’m not entirely clear yet what I can or should do about this, but it’s something I think about a lot, and something I plan on continuing to address as I walk down this path of being an author.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one as well!