an online platform is still important for unpublished authors

I’d like to share an experience in which I learned first hand why an author platform is so important to have even before you’ve published any work.

One of the writers I follow on Twitter posted a Follow Friday tweet advertising a few writers. As an unpublished writer, I like to follow and interact with other writers who seem to be doing writerly things, although that doesn’t have to be their only interest. I visited those that responded to his post with a “thank you.” Let’s contrast two of the profiles I viewed.

One writer made it easy to find out what they wrote about (be it in book, blog or other format) and what they had available. That person had a pinned tweet at the top of their page that linked to a sample of their work on their website. Their profile link took me to their Youtube writer channel. I quickly found enough information to decide whether or not they were an active writer and whether or not they wrote and/or discussed things I was interested in. I actually follow several authors who write things I’m not personally interested in because we can connect about being writers and readers and because I want to help get their work seen by those it would interest.

The other profile was mystifying. They are a writer, yes. But they didn’t have a link to a site, didn’t pin anything about their work or site, and actually had a pinned tweet trying to cutely beg for an agent. Is that the kind of tweet I can expect from them? Even more eyebrow-raising, they didn’t provide information on the work they were begging to have published. How…how would the Twitter-surfing agent even know if you were in their genre? (???!!!) I ended up googling their handle and found an interview with them. Their story actually sounds interesting, but at the end of the interview they say the only way to connect with them is through Twitter or Facebook. I checked out their Facebook. It was a personal page where a lot of non-writer posts surrounded the few related to the story, again not actually giving any kind of summary or “quickly figure out if you’d like to connect with me” information. So the only way to know if you’re interested in supporting or connecting with this author is to read an interview published on someone else’s site. That you have to find on your own. (Their Facebook did have a post about the interview, but it wasn’t near the top of their timeline.) They say in the interview that they’d rather focus on finishing their book before putting any more effort into an online presence, so… I guess I’ll support you then? If I ever notice you again? *shrugs*

If connecting with others and having meaningful interactions about writing and reading isn’t important to a person, then I can see some argument to this approach. But I’m also a potential customer. They write Sci Fi. I read Sci Fi. When their book is ready to be published, I could already be following them because I found them interesting and engaging and so their publication tweet is going to reach me. Now it isn’t. Because they couldn’t be bothered to create a god damned About Me page.