Rethinking Platform

At Apricot Services, our mission is to “champion truth-tellers”—so we want to spotlight some recent conversations around digital “platforms” in Christian publishing and how writers are focusing on sustainability when it comes to marketing.

‘The Work Is the Platform’

by Karen Swallow Prior on August 26, 2021

But what about my followers?

by Drew Brown on June 4, 2023

I am growing convinced that there are two types of writing: corrosive writing and generative writing.

For me, I’m learning I am not able to be fully present online and fully present in real life.

Why Author Platform Is Broken and What To Do About It

by Mary DeMuth on January 8, 2024

Because marketing is really about knowing someone, trusting them. It is based on permission. And what better way to know someone than to hear their voice or experience their writing voice consistently in a newsletter?
So I’m personally shifting from the word platform to the word presence. What can I do to help others? How can I reach those who really want to hear/see/read my content? And most importantly: how can I bless those in my fold? And how can I do so without losing my mental health or my precious, limited time?

Is Publishing Sustainable? (series)

by Kaitlin Curtice on February 9, 2024

What Is a Publisher’s Responsibility?
Are Authors Really That Exhausted?
Are Loyal Readers Out There?
Are Authors Lucky?
A Seasonal Model for Publishing

So far, this is what I’ve come up with, and it’s not perfect but here it is—publishing a book is one part publisher, one part author, one part loyal audience, one part luck.

Sustainability is the ability to maintain something at a certain level, and as authors, we are expected to keep growing our readership, to go above and beyond for numbers, to be on every podcast and engage in every opportunity, to deny our own mental and physical health to launch a book, and that is anything but sustainable.

  1. We must build community outside of our publishers
  2. Let’s honor the fact that author burnout is real and we need networks of community and support with and for one another
  3. The relationship between readers and authors is really sacred and reciprocal
  4. The idea of luck and “exposure” should cause us to stop and re-examine our relationship to social media

For the first year of a book’s release, think of your work as an author in four seasons. Usually when we launch a book, it’s this huge pre-order and launch push, a few weeks of excitement, and then we hit this hard wall emotionally, mentally, spiritually, even physically, and we have no idea what’s supposed to come next.

Making The Understory a Bestseller

by Lore Wilbert Ferguson on February 19, 2024

Preorders are that benefactor for an author. They signal to booksellers, libraries, and readers, “Hey, this is one to look for.” They exponentially do the work the author is already doing.

The Day I Decided to Quit Book Publishing

by Jen Pollock Michel on March 4, 2024

What’s more, publishers are constantly evaluating book proposals, not on the content of the book alone, but on the platform of the author. Can this person write? Yes, it’s one question. But I’d argue it’s not even the most important one in the publishing calculus. Can this person sell? Now we’re talking.

Some Meandering Thoughts on Quitting Publishing

by Lore Wilbert Ferguson on March 11, 2024

Reasons for quitting book publishing are varied and personal, but the many, many, many times I’ve considered quitting has been because it’s book publishing in its current iteration that makes it difficult to live off of what one makes writing. And once the book is published, as I wrote about several weeks ago, there isn’t a lot of incentive for the author to keep trying to market the book.

Confessions of a Christian Ghostwriter

by Timothy Willard on March 13, 2024

As Lore Wilbert Ferguson points out on her Substack, why go through the stress of writing, marketing, and launching a book that will last for three months in the public eye and fade when you can pour into a wonderful audience on Substack with your writing?

My hope? That a middle path emerges where audiences financially support writers on this platform, and publishers can adjust their approach to the life of the mind in a less mercenary way.

Women and Christian Publishing

by Jen Pollock Michel on March 11, 2024

It’s not a long leap to say that success in the Christian publishing industry—especially as a woman—might, in many cases, be related to appearances.

Here’s the thing: especially in evangelical spaces, women often have fewer in-roads to the professional credibility that sells books in the Christian market. They often lack the institutional affiliation that many men enjoy because they lack the academic and pastoral positions of their male counterparts.

My regret, in short, is the exhaustion of energy required, even now, not simply to do the work but to defend the work to myself.


by Katelyn Beaty on March 12, 2024

It struck me that many of the most “successful” writers in Christian book publishing are at heart marketers, not writers. I don’t mean that they aren’t writing their books (although some of them are definitely relying on uncredited ghostwriters), but that the thing they are really good at is creating media-driven buzz around their persona and their product.

Women, Work, and ‘Women’s Work’

by Ashley Hales on March 22, 2024

Michel rightfully and gently untangles the connections between platform and aesthetics, especially for women. How a woman looks, dresses, and acts has a significant bearing on how her words are received. The way a woman spends her time — often in nurturing, caregiving roles, means that there are real limits to what sort of creation she is able to accomplish. Not to mention the very real financial limits and realities in pursuing creative pursuits rather than more financially lucrative work.

Perhaps we bemoan the small work of creativity — whether we are male or female — because the work of creating something is often more akin to the washing up than to splashy deals or headlines. … The Incarnation of Christ shows us how dearly God cares for the material and mundane.

Platform (series)

by Karen Swallow Prior on March 26, 2024

Part 1: Platform, Publishing, and Perspective
Part 2: Platform, Publishing, and Perspective
Part 3: Platform, Publishing, and Perspective

But platform can never affirm us in ways Jesus and those who see us regularly can.

It’s too easy to lose sight of the fact that platform is a means, not the end. Platform gives you standing, so others will know you have something valuable to say.

Our real platform is the life we are living and the work and ministry we are already doing. Platform is our proven track record and the authority we’ve gained in whatever area God has called us to—whether we work out of the home and take care of children, or teach and research as a professor.

Platform is a what. Audience is a who.

The distinction I want to illuminate is between writing and publishing. … If you write because that is the way you process things and figure out what you think, or if you write simply because you love to write, then that is the end of the matter. … But most of us do like to share our thoughts with others (whether they are written or not) as well as the things we create.

There are simply so many books being published today that from publishing contract to release day and beyond, everyone’s using the spaghetti method: toss it up to the ceiling and see if it sticks.

Completely Unsolicited, Totally Anecdotal, But Perhaps Marginally Helpful Thoughts on Being a Christian Writer

by Samuel D. James on July 2, 2024

You, reading this right now, are, in all probability, not going to make a living solely from writing. … But the fact is, writing has never been a reliable source of income, which is why a great many of the most legendary writers were editors, freelancers, teachers, and even laborers.

When people who know what they’re talking about say “platform,” what they mean is a reputation. They mean writers who have some credible history, some kind of interested audience, and some way of promoting their writing.

So what I’m learning these days is that the most important part of being a Christian writer is being a Christian. Being satisfied with Jesus and his love, promises, and future for me is what unburdens me from the frustration of apparently fruitless labor.