When I visit my dad, retirement is a topic that often comes up. He’s in his mid-sixties, runs the business founded by my grandparents, and works harder than anyone else I know. As he considers selling his business, he also talks about setting the business on a slightly different path: going on social media.
I love my old man. He could rewire your entire home. But new-fangled technology is not his strong suit. He got his first cell phone maybe four or five years ago, a burner, and only because my stepmom strong-armed him into it. And I don’t think he turns it on much, because I can never seem to get a hold of him.
Still, he understands the value of having the family business on social media.
He explained that if the store (that’s what we call it in our family, “the store”) isn’t on social media when he sells it, then it’s going to be worth less. As in less dollars. The new owner would have to invest time and money into the store’s online platform, something that a lot of business owners want these days. The more money a new owner has to spend on the store, the less money they will want to pay for it. But if the work is already done for them, then it will be worth more, in dollars.
Here’s a guy who’s not crazy about social media, the Internet, and technology in general, and even he gets it.
Selling light fixtures and selling books isn’t all that different.
In some online writing communities that I follow, the subject of author platforms often comes up. Whether or not an author has an online platform, the whole thing can feel pretty intimidating to them. Most of us (including myself) didn’t get into this writing thing
When I attended Ooligan Press’ Write to Publish Conference earlier this year, this lesson became ever more poignant. The subject of online platforms invariably came up in some of the panels, and I heard the same thing over and over again: no matter who you are, what your genre, an online platform is valuable. It’s not just for self-published authors, either. This is especially true for authors publishing through traditional means.
1. You’re doing the legwork for the publisher. Sure, some will help you out with marketing your book, but it will help them out a lot more if you already have a following.
Online platforms are no small thing. They take time, money, creative energy, resources, strategy, and a fuck-up here and the valuable lessons that come with them. If you’ve done the legwork and have the system already in place, that’s less work your publisher has to do, making you a bit more valuable.
2. Testing the market. This is something I heard repeatedly at the Write to Publish Conference. Even with a mere 500 followers, that’s 500 people who know your name and buy into your message. Not all of them will buy your book, but some might. That’s 500 people that you and your publish don’t have to hustle when you’re book comes out.
3. Visibility. Your name and your work is out there. (This wasn’t at Write to Publish. It’s my own thing, but there it is). A hundred people who know your name is better than zero people who know your name.
In my post next Tuesday, I’ll share some guidelines I go by for building my platform that will help you be authentic and prevent you from going batshit crazy.