W hether you are a seasoned author or just dipping the tip of your toe in the waters of writing your book, it won’t be long before you hear that you will need to have an “author platform” if you wish to sell your book with any success. And if you are looking to land a contract with a traditional publisher, having an author platform can mean the difference between being published and not being published. So, what is a platform and what do you need to do to develop one?
An author platform is your sphere of influence when it comes to your notoriety. It encompasses many things that converge to tell the world who you are and why you are a person to listen to when you have something to say. The greater your platform, the higher your book advance. That’s why ex-presidents, celebrities, and previous bestselling authors can command multimillion dollar advances. A platform tells a publisher that if they take on your book, their risk exposure is limited because you have people who already know who you are that will hear about your book.
Ideally, a platform will tie in to the subject of your book. For example, if you are an oncologist, you will probably have a stronger platform if you write a book about cancer than if you write a book on the history of NASCAR. However, if you are an oncologist who blogs every weekend about NASCAR, then you may have a platform for your History of NASCAR book that other oncologists won’t have.
That said, you can still leverage your current platform for an unrelated book. How? Because if you have any authority in your field, and if you are followed by others, then you can use that to help you promote your book. This is exactly what actors and actresses do when they come out with books on subject matters that they hardly qualify as being an expert on. However, they have people who know who they are, who are willing to listen to what they have to say, and are ready to buy a book that they write. You can use the same premise to leverage your platform with your new book.
Here are 10 tips on how to create your author platform:
1. Chose a subject related to your book and become an expert on that subject. Blog about it, submit articles about it, speak on it. The more you communicate on the subject, the more you are building your author platform.
2. Comment on other people’s work. Visit blogs that deal with the same subject matter and lend your authoritative voice to the conversation.
3. Create articles for giveaways on your site for people to download or read on the subject.
4. Take advantage of guilt by association. Who are the perceived experts with the same platform? Find them, communicate with them and submit writings to the same places that publish their writings. If you are able, go to the same conferences and conventions they go to.
5. Join appropriate trade associations. If your subject has professional associations, then look into joining one or two.
6. Become active in civic/community organizations. Not only will you get your name out there, but you will find speaking opportunities through those groups that may give you air time or get your message in print.
7. Become active in a charity relating to your platform. Many organizations desperately need volunteers to carry on their good work. You may find yourself in a position of helping with a noble cause while gaining notoriety in that role.
8. Mentor others who are looking to build the same platform that you are building. This can be one-on-one or by teaching classes or conducting seminars. This is a way to position yourself solidly in a leadership role regarding your platform.
9. From business cards, e-mail signatures to personal meetings, always introduce yourself as it relates to your platform. “I’m Tony Eldridge, oncologist and NASCAR historian…” If you have two separate platforms you are cultivating, you may want to have your business collateral separate (i.e., one business card for your oncology practice, another for your NASCAR gig).
10. Stay up to date in current news/events relating to your platform and comment early when news breaks. Don’t be afraid to strongly state your opinions. Experts are people who commentate on important events; reporters are people who regurgitate it. Be an expert, not a reporter.
All of this can be summarized to say:
1. Know your platform well
2. Communicate your platform well
3. Commentate on on your platform well
Do this, and not only will your followers continue to follow you, but your platform, sphere of influence, and your credibility will get stronger and stronger over time.
Two Quick Notes:
1. The new videos tips are out. You should be getting your e-mail soon with this week’s tip and link location. If you have not joined the Marketing Tips For Authors Video Newsletter, then you can do so now. This week’s video walks you through how to use a back door way to create multiple pages on your blogger blog and how to integrate your Blogger blog into your current website.
2. Make sure you enter the “Win A Signed Library Of Book Marketing Books” contest going on now through April 19th where you can win a library of book marketing books signed by their authors to the contest winner.