When I cook jambalaya, I have a process for getting it done quickly and still having it taste great. It involves a little prep in the beginning, but then, I perform several other prep steps while the food simmers at different stages. If I do all the prep before getting started, it can nearly double my cooking time. If I don't do the prep while it's simmering, then the jambalya won't taste as good (and it would probably more than double my cooking time).
The same holds true for writers who are building their platforms, because a platform is kind of like this big dish with a ton of ingredients that all blend together. And like preparing jambalaya, there are two traps in which writers often find themselves caught.
Too Much Preparation
I'm sure anyone who's read my blog long enough suspects that I believe in the power of preparation. However, some writers seem to be in a constant state of preparation. They spend 99% of their time preparing to be a famous writer. Then, they devote 1% of their time to the actual writing. That's just not sound math.
Or there are writers that spend all their time writing a great manuscript. Then, they spend all their time building a platform. Then, they spend all their time submitting their manuscripts. Then...well, they seem to only be able to do one thing at a time, which can really make the process of finding success a looooooonnnnnnggggg process (as if it's not long enough already).
I believe in following the appropriate steps to accomplish things (like building a table or cooking Mac & Cheese). However, finding success as a writer is a little more sophisticated.
Waiting for X to Do Y
Many writers tell me that they are ready to start building their platform...once their books are published. Or once their books are accepted. But both of those approaches are starting the process too late--even with a long book production cycle. If writers know they want to build a platform eventually, the best time to start testing the waters is now.
The main focus should still be on the writing, of course, but there are small steps a writer can take now to start building a platform (and connections) needed to support a book. In fact, if you want a quick overview of how to get started, click here.
Whatever you do, don't procrastinate about starting your platform efforts. I encourage you to start small and build over time. But if you haven't yet, get started now.
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Plus, check out previous Not Bob posts: