Early in my career, everyone else seemed to be control. I interviewed for a job, then waited for the hiring manager to offer me the position. I worked hard, then waited for my boss to give me a raise. I achieved bottom-line results, then waited for the vice president to approve my promotion.
When I started writing, it also seemed like everyone else was in control. I prepared a book proposal, then waited for a publisher to offer me a contract. I wrote the manuscript, then waited for booksellers to order the book. I published the book, the waited for the media to book me.
We spent a lot of time waiting. And then waiting some more. And, if we didn’t get picked, it wasn’t our fault (or so we thought).
But something extraordinary has happened in the last decade—even more so in the last three years.
The power has shifted.
As an aspiring author, you no longer have to wait on someone else to pick you. (Re-read that sentence again. Let it settle into your heart.)
You can pick yourself and get started today. The tools are available like never before. You can get published. You can build your own platform.
It’s easier than ever before.
- It is easier to get into print. Today you have options. Lots of them. For example, you can take the path of traditional publishing if that suits you. (That’s exactly what I am doing with my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.)
But you can also engage in assisted self-publishing or just do the whole thing yourself. It is simply a matter of your goals and resources.
- It is easier to build a tribe. You can build a direct relationship with people who share your passion. You no longer have to go through an intermediary, though you can still do that if you wish.
Through the use of a blog, a YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, you can reach thousands of people—perhaps tens of thousands of people—who want to hear from you and engage with you.
- It is easier to succeed. In the old days of publishing, publishers and authors had no real way to do market research—at least not at the level of individual books. Instead, they made the best decisions they could and then published the book. It was always a grand experiment. The outcome was uncertain.
Today, we can solicit input from our tribe in advance of publication. We can test the content via our blogs and even get input on jacket design as I did last week. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it harnesses the wisdom of crowds to increase the odds.
- It is easier to build a business. Your book doesn’t have to be your one-shot at success. It can be the front-end of an entire enterprise. In fact, I view non-fiction books as the very top of the sales funnel. They are a way to introduce a large audience to what you offer.
You can then go on to monetize the same content through live presentations, coaching, consulting, paid forums, on-line audio and video packages, and a variety of product line extensions. Even novelists can build a business around their books if they get creative.
Note: I am not saying any of this is easy. It’s not. It will require extraordinary focus and discipline, long hours spent perfecting your craft, and above all else, perseverance in building your platform.
But while it is not easy, it is easier. Building your own platform is, perhaps for the first time in history, possible for anyone willing to make the commitment.
Note: this post was inspired by Seth Godin’s short, inspiring book, Poke the Box. I highly recommend it.