Does a Fiction Author Need a Platform?


There are two things I’m constantly stressing with writers:

(1) Mastering the craft of writing is crucial.

(2) Building a platform is important.

For fiction authors, the two are not equal.

If you’re writing a novel, your writing should be first priority. Spend most of your discretionary time writing and becoming a better writer. Read high quality fiction, read books on craft, get feedback from critique partners, edit and rewrite.

Get a head start on building a platform, yes. Learn Instagram so you’ll know how it works. Explore TikTok or any other social networks you enjoy. But as an unpublished fiction writer, spend 80% of your efforts on writing, 20% on platform building.

Things change when you’re about to get published. And things are very different if you’re a nonfiction writer.

But if you’re an unpublished novelist, your writing is top priority. If that’s not working, all the rest will be irrelevant.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Ariel J. Smythe on November 8, 2021 at 7:46 PM

    This is very reassuring! Sounds like being savvy about and also set-up on social media and establishing presence/being poised while also finalizing a well-crafted and polished manuscript will serve- and once ms submitted for agent consideration, returning full focus to promotion via those channels. I’m watching how other authors are doing it. 👍 Thank you, Rachel, so much; I just exhaled (but not taking a nap…😉)

  2. Oona Cava on November 4, 2021 at 2:50 PM

    This has been my approach as well. I am a bit haunted by the many people I respect who talk about setting up your platform waaaaay before your book is ready to shop around but it hasn’t driven me to do anything about it (yet). In the meantime, I will continue to happily devour craft books and share work with my editing group. 🙂