Platform Building Gurus Should Issue a Disclaimer

The production of books is only the first step of book publishing; the second – and more important part – is selling them. To sell books, whether we traditionally publish or self-publish, we need a platform. This is something most authors struggle with.

Fortunately, many people will tell us how to build a viable brand-building, book-promoting, product-selling platform. Most take their personal experience, package it as a formula, and sell it in the form of a book, a class, or personal coaching. They will show us how they grew their Facebooks likes or Twitter followers or Google+ circles to astronomical heights. Others explain how to develop a huge blog following or compile a gigantic email list or generate enviable website traffic. They generally say something to the effect of, “Look what I did in such a short time. If I can do it, so can you!”

Unfortunately, I suspect that in most cases their formula is not replicable – at least not for the majority of people. When these experts experienced their success, they were in the right place, at the right time, with the right conditions. But as we attempt to follow their advice, we are in a different place, at a different time, with different conditions. With all the variables changing, it’s unlikely to expect we’ll enjoy the same results they achieved.

When they market their platform-building formula, they should include a disclaimer, similar to what is required for investments, such as “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” Seriously, this is critical.

Sure, they can likely point to a handful of success stories, but there are many more failures, of people who paid them money, followed their steps, and missed reaching the desired results. These people aren’t failures who didn’t follow directions, they are people faced with a different situation: in a different place, at a different time, with different conditions.

This doesn’t mean we should dismiss all the platform-building gurus. We can learn from them, and we can grow our platform, but we shouldn’t expect the same results, because “Individual results may vary.”

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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