A Friends and Family First Following

A following, or platform, is built by people who support a person or a person’s work. Building a platform is beneficial to all independent contractors, perhaps especially writers, yet some people are unaware of the issues. Arguably, writers determined to become not only published but also successful authors need a platform the most. They often first hit up friends and family for support because that’s what friends and family do best. Without this support structure, writers face an even more treacherous uphill climb.

So, what are the issues surrounding platform establishment? I originally started this post with the premise that some of my close friends and family weren’t Liking my Facebook page or Following my blog because they just didn’t support what I’m doing. However, it dawned on me that this probably isn’t true. Some of my close friends and family don’t own or use a computer, and those that do may not have Facebook. Some that do have Facebook don’t know how to Follow or Like or Share, and those that do simply don’t want to be bothered with these things. I’m a logical person; I think those positions are reasonable. What I’m struggling with is the school of thought that I should have a manuscript published before folks can Follow me or Like my page. I expected that from acquaintances, but not from close friends and family.

Before I had a vested interest in building a platform, I felt that way too. However, I know now that whether writers build a platform online or by word of mouth, they face a double-edged sword. The problem is, in today’s marketplace and by most traditional publishers’ standards, the query letter needs to convey a platform. To establish clout and carve a spot in the world of publishing, building a platform must rank very high on a writer’s to-do list, right up there with finishing the manuscript. (I’m still working on mine.) Becoming a published author–the goal of most writers–is, sadly, already littered with frustrations and grievances created by those in the industry (take self-pub vs. trad pub). Top it off with the general consensus that to build a platform a writer must first be a published author, and one heck of a struggles ensues. Writers need community and support (as author Kristen Lamb advocates in her blog and her books, We Are Not Alone and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer), just like anyone else, to succeed in this business. Establishing a platform is essential, whether traditional or indie, because your people become your pack when you start running with the big dogs.

I plan on publishing my manuscript through traditional methods, so while I complete it, I am working to build my platform. I rely on my family and friends to support me in other areas of my life and, therefore, want them to share in my successes and failures as a writer. I need them as my support structure while I navigate uncharted territory. If they aren’t there, then I’m on my own. And that, to me, is terrifying.

Aside from fear, I’d like to look at some other ways platform establishment affects my well-being through examining the effects of Likes and Follows. When people–mighty fine folks such as yourself–Like my Facebook page or Follow my blog posts, it makes me feel as though I’ve written something worthwhile, as if I’m doing something meaningful for myself and for humanity. When close friends and family don’t Like or Follow, I feel as though what I’m doing is inconsequential. My writings may be but a small contribution, but doesn’t it count for something? Even something as trivial as a Like? Aren’t these the folks who should support me? Don’t they care what I have to say? Don’t I matter to them? If they don’t feel as though I’m “worth it,” then will anyone else? (I realize this makes me sound needy, but I’ve already covered that, and I continue to mature as a writer.)

Obviously, others do feel as though I’m “worth it”–and not just other family and friends. I mean people from all over the world and from different walks of life have Liked and Followed me. If someone I’ve never met and who doesn’t care about me–the person, not the writer–can enjoy what I’ve written and feel compelled to support me, then why shouldn’t my friends and family?

Suppose friends or family members don’t like what I have to say, what I’m doing, or that I’m doing something. I’m completely fine with that because I know that my writings are not for everyone, that even close friends and family have values and beliefs different from my own, and that maybe they just don’t give a rat’s patootie if I’m successful or not, because they love me anyway. But, from where I sit, some of these same folks Like or Follow or Share other somethings they feel are “worth it.” While they’re throwing Likes and Follows and Shares around, why not throw one my way, just for shits and giggles, just because they care?

Ultimately, writing makes me a better person, lifts me up when I’m feeling down, says to the world, “Hey! I’m here!” And it’s not hurting anyone, unless the occasional typo or usage mishap makes you feel like gouging your eyes out. (If this means you, I would rather you try your hand at feedback than see or hear about you gouging your eyes out.) I’m not trying to change the world. I’m trying to add a little more beauty to it. But you all know about Rome and how it was not built, people. Writing takes a continuous effort. Improvement takes time. Criticism from people I care about and respect doesn’t sting as much.

Platforming is essential to a writer working toward publication, and it naturally starts with friends and family. I cherish the support of each one of you–my readers, my champions, my critics, my voices of reason. You are my ticket to publication, whether you realize it or not. Without you, I’m doomed. Finally, and most importantly, I’m humbled and encouraged and motivated by you–yes, you. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.

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Categories: Musings, Writing, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “A Friends and Family First Following

  1. Author Kristen Lamb

    It is best to start building a platform as early as possible. The second we decide to take this career seriously we need to start our platform for a number of reasons. 1) Less pressure. Since we don’t have a book for sale we can take our time and we feel less weird talking to people because we don’t have anything for sale. 2) Platforms take time to build. Few things will make a writer freak out like trying to pull an on-line platform out of the ether. 3) Better learning curve. If we start early we have time to learn, mature, grow or even take classes to improve our skills. Again, more time is always better. 4) Adds balance and support. Being a writer is tough. We need to have a community of support or it is too easy to give up.

    As far as number of likes and follows, those are vanity numbers that don’t mean much. I ignore them. I follow anyone who talks to me to keep my numbers balanced (Twitter won’t let your ratio get too unbalanced before it shuts down how many people can follow you). Just talk to people and connect, and every little effort adds up over time.

    • Once again, great advice, Kristen. I’m picking up what you’re putting down.

      I think the hardest part so far has been the time factor. I’m such a results-now person that it is hard not to get frustrated when things aren’t going like I’d imagined. I like knowing that it’s not just me experiencing these feelings, as comments from other writers can attest.

      As for Twitter, I’m still learning “Twitiquette.” I’ve always been such a shy person, but slowly I’m getting more comfortable with reaching out to others.

      Thanks for all you do. I can not stress that enough.

  2. nancy roesler

    I love you! It doesn’t matter what you say, do, write or think, I support you. Never doubt that your family doesn’t have your back. I know that it still helps to hear it though.

    Like this article.

    Aunt Nancy

    Sent from my iPad

    • I love you too, Aunt Nancy! Thanks for reading and for commenting. 🙂

      I know that my family and friends support me, but I am not convinced that everyone, the general public included, is aware of what goes into getting published, much less building a platform. I was trying to let everyone know in a way that didn’t sound completely rude. Did I succeed?

      And yes, it is nice to hear. 🙂

  3. you’re on your way! good post. reminded me of how i felt about a year ago, no – this morning – about all this. constantly evolving. just like what you do and those who will like it too will be your fans. your authenticity shines, girl. ain’t no stoppin’ that. 🙂

    • Oh, Molly, now I’m blushing. Thank you for your kind words. It’s definitely nice to know that others experience these same feelings, but I can’t help but whine about it sometimes.

      I know, I know. I should put on my big girl panties and deal with it. Ok…and…done! 😛

      • don’t worry – i know many people who feel the same. you’ll be done with it when you’re done with it… maybe that’s now? who knows. don’t have expectations… that helps. 😉

  4. Whitney Rains

    I keep my platform building separate from my personal life. My friends and family just aren’t involved in that area. Yes they support me, but other than that I treat it like a business. I am Whitney Rains, my product is my writing, if you like it then you will read it and like it and if you don’t that’s okay too.

    I think if you start to worry about platform building too much then the whole experience will become overwhelming instead of enjoyable. If you are honest and sincere, then people will read what you have to say and appreciate you. Try not to worry about family and friends liking or following your different social networking sites. Ultimately, it’s up to the people who you will probably never meet that will push your writing forward by buying you work.

    • Thanks for commenting, Whitney. Well said, and I agree. I originally started this post a couple of weeks ago, when I was first having the issue with family/friends not liking my page or following my blog. Since then, I’ve learned to let it roll of my shoulders, and since then, the majority of close friends and family have indeed followed, liked, or at least read. That’s all I can ask. Yes, of course I want them to like it, but if they don’t, like you said, that’s ok too.

  5. Great post. Building your platform is so important – and hard! – and where better to start than friends and family. Just one suggestion, don’t be afraid to say to them directly that you would appreciate it if they “like” “follow” and “share.” Just like you mentioned, they may not know to do that.

    • Thanks for commenting. Yes, very important and very hard, but if it were easy, it probably wouldn’t be worth doing.

      You are right about asking them directly; I have, and now my closest friends and family have shown their support. It is no longer an issue for me, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject anyway, in case others were experiencing the same thing.

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