About the Episode
If you have been in the writing community for a hot second, you’ve probably heard the phrase “platform building.” And while it’s true you as a fiction writer don’t necessarily need a TON of followers, publishers still want to see that you have some sort of audience to market to after a novel releases. But, today, I want to challenge you to stop worrying about “platform building” and focus on something different instead. And don’t worry, it’s going to make any publisher very happy!
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[00:00:00] If you have been in the writing community for a hot second, you have probably heard the term building a platform. And while it is true that as a fiction writer, you do not need massive numbers on social media or even a ton of of email subscribers, the reality is a publisher wants to know how you are going to connect an audience to your novel once it releases.
But today I want to challenge you to stop worrying about building a platform and do something different instead for your novel. And the thing that I want you to do is going to make any publisher very happy. But before I get into that, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Rachel Fahrenbach I help Christian Writers craft and publish a novel that has an engaged audience ready to buy it.
So what is this thing I want you to do? Instead of focusing on platform building, I want you to add people to your CommunitTEAM. That’s CommuniTEAM. I know it’s [00:01:00] cheesy, but I chose this word on purpose because it’s memorable, Cheesy is memorable, and I want you to remember each day that you get up and you hit the writing routines and writing rhythms that you’re asking yourself, How can I add people to my CommuniTEAM today?
So let’s break this down. What exactly is a community team and why do you need to focus on adding people to it instead of platform building.
Simply put a CommuniTEAM is a group of individuals who are championing your writing work. Now, here are some characteristics of those individuals. They genuinely want to see you succeed. They are willing to help you carry out tasks that you cannot do yourself. They act like you’re wingman. They want to be part of something with you.
They are fans of you, not just your work. They want to learn from you. They want to hang out with you. They have received value [00:02:00] from you, and they want to give that value back. They don’t expect perfection from you, but they want consistency. And they talk about you behind your. Now that might be like, Wait a second, I don’t want people talking about me behind my back, but listen up.
Yes, you do. Because you can only reach so many people telling them about your offer of a book. You need other people talking about you even when you’re not talking. Right? You want people talking about your book. How often have you went to purchase a book? Because somebody recommended it to you?
We know this is how it works. We know word of mouth is so much stronger than any advertisement possibly could be. We know that word of mouth does marketing like nothing else, and so we want people talking about us and our CommuniTEAM are the people who are gonna be doing that. So who’s on this community team with you?
Who are these people that are going to be in your corner helping you succeed, [00:03:00] cheering you on, championing your work? Well, first you’re going to have your inner circle. Your inner circle of this community team is made up of people like your spouse, your kids, your mom, your family, your friends that are close to you. These are people who are in your corner regardless of if they understand this writing thing you do or not.
They are just so proud of you and they love you, and they are there for you. Also on this community, are your writing community. These are the people who get it. You know, back in episode three we talked about getting yourself some solid writing friends and this is where it comes into play. These are the people who understand what you are doing.
They understand this writing life because they’re living it too, and they’re here for you. Each step of the writing journey.
You’re also gonna have your helpers. These people are part of your community team, and they are either paid or unpaid individuals, and they’re the ones that help you [00:04:00] execute the task.
Because the reality is there’s a lot to this. You’re not just a novelist, you’re an entrepreneur. And as such, you need people around you helping you get done all the things that you need to get done. So this could be something like a virtual assistant. Virtual assistant do various tasks, or maybe they’re more of like task coordinators, people who do specific things like social media coordinators.
You’re gonna have people like your beta readers or your book production people like this is whether you’re traditionally published or self published, you have people in your circle championing your work through their ability to create covers, create great back cover copy, edit your book.
These people are on your community team. You also have your book marketing people, your people who run your ads, the people who do your pr, the people who help you do your book launch. These people are, are important people. On your community team, they help you tell people that you have a novel for them
And then [00:05:00] you have other people that are your helpers that may not even know they’re your helpers, like your favorite barista at your favorite coffee shop, where you write your novel , or the customer support team for the tools that you use for say, like your author website, those people are a part of your community team too, even though they don’t necessarily know it. But when you think about it that way, you’re going to, um, invest in tools that have good customer support because it’s gonna make your life as a novelist a whole lot easier.
You also as part of your helpers, could possibly have home helpers. Things like grocery delivery or maybe somebody who comes in and cleans. These people are part of your CommuniTeam and they help you get your work done as a novelist. You also might have kid care helpers, who give you childcare so that you have time to really dive in deep into your novel and write a lot of words at one time. You might have [00:06:00] tutors that come in and help your kids, or you might do a co-op, a homeschool co-op, and you write during the time that your kid is in a co-op class. You might participate in carpooling so that you have an hour or two to write something you don’t have to worry about getting your kid to practice. Somebody else is doing that, and you can be writing instead. You also have your kid helpers like, do not dismiss the help that your kids can to be to you in this whole writing world.
If you have older kids, they might help you create social media graphics. Or if you have younger kids, they can help you look envelopes, right? Like there’s different things that they can do. And just side note, the more you involve your kids in the work you do as a writer, the more they begin to understand what you’re putting into this writing thing. They get to have a firsthand view into their parent pursuing their passions, and that’s a great example for them in the future years.
Now you might, I’m just [00:07:00] gonna pause real quick here because you might be wondering like, Okay, I get that I need these helpers to do these things and they’re part of my community team, but how does that make a publisher happy
Like, first of all, you’re not gonna be putting these people on your book proposal. That’s not what I’m suggesting here. But what I am suggesting is that you have people as part of your community team helping you do the job. And this comes into play later on when an editor is sending you back edits or when an editor gives you a deadline to write a new chapter for the manuscript. This is where these helpers come into play. When you have these people helping you, you can meet deadlines, you can deliver on the things that the publisher is asking of you. They know that you’ll be able to do a book launch tour later on. Your publisher is not gonna know all the people that you have as part of your community team. But when you have those people, it becomes real obvious because you’re able to deliver what’s being asked of you by the publisher, by the deadline that they [00:08:00] give you.
When you’re supported as an author, you can do the work that’s being asked of you by the publisher. So make sure that you have helpers as part of your community team.
Okay, let’s move on to the next group of people that are going to be part of your community team. And that group of people is made up of professional contacts. We talked a little bit about this in episode four about creating a network of individuals that you can collaborate with.
These are individuals who will eventually become endorsers. Be part of your book launch strategy, connect you to speaking events in other audience building opportunities. These people are other fiction writers. These are influencers, speakers, business owners, nonfiction authors. These are people within the publishing industry, both fiction and nonfiction.
These are agents and editors and marketers. These are people who have connections to, and then outside of the writing industry, [00:09:00] these are people who have connections to other organizations. We’re talking pastors, ministry leaders, nonprofit leaders, online communities, professional communities, whatever it may be.
These are people, These are the. These are what we call the gatekeepers, or we call them the hubs, like they’re the hub and all these spokes come out from them or they’re the gatekeeper. This is the person that you get to other people through. You want those professional connections within your community team.
So don’t just get sucked into, I need to make connections with just other fiction writers. You need to be spreading your net wide and far because fiction readers are amongst all of these communities. Fiction readers are not their own community fiction readers are amongst the community of people, and the more that you understand your reader, the more you can target organizations that that reader is part of.
Next step on your community team are your personal connections. These are individuals [00:10:00] within your everyday circle of influence. Do not forget these. It’s very tempting to kind of dismiss them because they’re a part of your every day. But these are the people that are gonna connect you to more fiction readers.
This is going back to that word of mouth mindset. We want people talking about us behind our backs. We want them talking about our books, and those in our circle influence are a key part of that. These are the people that are in your church, in your homeschool co-op, in your kids’ school, part of the activities that your kids are involved in, people you volunteer with, your coworkers.
These are people that are amongst your everyday life that have the ability toconnect you to other people because just because you guys are in the same circle doesn’t mean that you know the same people. And so your circle overlaps with their circle and then they tell it to somebody in their circle, and then that person’s circle overlaps in another circle and that person tells another person and it goes on and so [00:11:00] forth.
And soon you’re reaching fiction readers that you never could have reached before and because you did not dismiss that word of mouth marketing amongst your own circle of influence.
And the last person you want on your community team is your reader. Now, most people think about this when they think about platform building. They think, How can I get more people on my email list? How, how can I get more, um, social media subscribers?
And I hope that you’re beginning to see that your platform, your network is bigger than just your reader, but your reader is a very big part of that CommuniTEAM. they’re a big part of this, and so I hope that you know who that reader is so that you can identify where they’re hanging out on online, in online spaces, and then you can go hang out there too.
Does your reader like Instagram or does she prefer Facebook? Does your reader create stuff? on TikTok? Are they [00:12:00] more the typed that browses LinkedIn? You need to know this about your reader, and then you need to be in those spaces too. But also your reader might hang out in in person spaces and in person organizations and that you might need to go hang out in those organizations and spaces too.
You need to know your reader well enough to be able to meet your reader where they’re. Okay. Whew. I just threw out a lot of people to think about being a part of your community team, and we still have more to go on this whole topic. But before we do, let’s pause and have you hit the subscribe button on YouTube, Apple, Spotify.
Wherever you’re listening or watching this fit and this episode, I want you to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any future conversations like ones about how do you even invite somebody to be part of your community team. And we will cover that in future episodes, and I don’t want you to miss them.
So hit the subscribe button.
So why do I [00:13:00] want you to stop building a platform and start adding to your CommuniTEAM? Well, in addition to the fact that you need support as a writer, a lot of what we do is a very lonely, um, process and you just need people that you know are in your corner that are gonna, one, support you no matter what. Two, wanna see succeed. Three, understand what you’re going through and want to help you along that journey.
And you also wanna have people that will champion your works when it’s released, and you wanna have people that can help you do the work that you need to do, in addition to just all that supportive role that your community team gives you. You wanna focus on building a community team versus building a platform because people do not like to be sold to.
A lot of platform building ideas that you hear out there, focus in on promotion. We tend to think about what are all the things I could do [00:14:00] that would get me more followers? And even when we shift a little bit to like, how can we serve a reader? What’s the things that I can do? How can I tell them the ways that I can serve them?
Even then, we’re still kind of promoting ourselves. What I would, the mind shift I want you to go to is more of how can I invite people to be part of my community? How can I invite people into this community that I’m building around the work that I do? How can they invite them to be part of something?
Because that’s really, at the end of the day, what people want This. I would argue that’s one of the reasons why people read fiction is they want to belong to something. They want to experience something with other people and they want to, to engage in something that’s outside themselves. Really, when you are inviting a reader to be part of the work that you’re doing, or even any of those other people that I mentioned, you’re inviting them into the community that [00:15:00] you are creating around the work that you do and around you as an author.
Now, you might think that this is hard to do as a fiction writer, but I would argue that you are actually in a better place to do this than most nonfiction writers are. Nonfiction writers focus in on the, This is how I can help. But you as a fiction writer, you create worlds. You create experiences so you understand how to craft an experience, to invite a reader, and to invite others into. You know how to invite people.
You know how to create the environment and create the experience. Where you need to gain confidence is inviting people into that to experience it with you, to join this community with you, to be a part of something with you and something that’s outside of themselves. Because at the end of the day, that’s what people want.
They don’t want another advertisement. They don’t want another promotional thing in their face. They want to be invited to be a [00:16:00] part of something.
And this is going to make your publisher so very happy because they will see that you understand how to connect to an audience.
You understand that you have limitations, that you can only go so far, but you understand that you need the hubs. You need the gatekeepers on your team so that you can reach the next circle, the next set of people.
So, yes, social media numbers, email numbers, they’re important. But what is more important to the publisher is that you have the potential to connect to even more groups of people. Because at the end of the day, we have a limit on what we can reach, right? We only, we have a limit as to who is in our circle, but if we approach it with a community team aspect of getting people onto our team that we can link arms with, who are the hubs that have access to the spokes or the gatekeepers that open up the door wide to.
To meet [00:17:00] new audiences. That’s what’s gonna get a publisher excited is when they can see that you have the potential to reach multiple audiences because of the connections that you have, because of the people who are a part of your community team and a publisher is going to want to work with you when they see that you have made that happen and that you are able to articulate who it is that is a part of your team.
And then the number one reason to not build a platform, but instead to invite people to be part of your community team is that platforms are lonely places. It often, and this is probably one of the reasons why most writers do not like platform building.
They think it’s a just, it kind of feel awkward, like the spotlight is on you and it focuses on you, and there’s a lot of pressure to that. But a community team is not a lonely space. It is full of love and support and encouragement to help you continue to do the work that you have been called to.
So here [00:18:00] is your action item for today. Go to rachelfahrenbach.com/resources and download the community team builder worksheet. I’ve created that worksheet for you to work through so you can see who’s already on your community team, and also identify the gaps so that you can start inviting people onto that team with you.
And if you have a writer friend who you know, just hates the idea of platform building, who loathes it, who dreads it, who is just nervous about it, who just feels kind of the pressure of it, would you send them this episode as an encouragement? For them. So maybe it will help them to think differently.
Instead of platform building, they can switch to this mindset of community team building. And in doing so, just find a freedom and a release of that pressure on them to build a platform. Thanks for doing that. I really do appreciate it when you guys shared these episodes with other writer friends. Because you are part of my community [00:19:00] team, you are helping me reach other audiences. Thank you. Until next time, happy writing. Bye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.