Daily Archives: December 15, 2009

Author Platform Building, One Plank at a Time

PART ONE: The Rhyme and Reason

Author’s Platform? Nope, it’s not a new buzzword for authors and writers to ignore. Lord knows there are a million shifts and changes in the publishing industry to confuse us already.

An Author’s Platform is something that has existed for a very long time under other, less intimidating names. In ancient history, you may recall that traditional publishing houses used to expend wonderful marketing efforts to expose and promote their authors. Those plans included booking talk show interviews, book signings and speaking events all over the country … AND paying for the author to be there! Well, those olden days are dead and gone but the need to create the perfect Author Platform remains. The author no longer has h/her publisher arranging, planning and scripting every moment for the perfect build-up for book launch.

The rhyme and reason for an Author’s Platform is simple. You must get the word out. Not just the news that you’ve written and gotten a book published, but these days, you have to go much, much further. Never forget what you’re competing against.

You are fighting like a warrior for a reader’s discretionary dollar as well as competing for his eyes. Those eyes can view a book the traditional way, by curling on the sofa near the fireplace and leisurely enjoying a good, heavy, hardback … or the reader could choose any number of other venues to read. E-books are here to stay and making a huge impact on the market. Kindle is kicking butt. Free reads are sucking readers in and making them salivate to make the purchase anyway. People are paying for good books in a variety of formats which means there are more people reading. GREAT!

Now all you have to do is make your book stand out. Have you stood in the dead center of a Barnes & Noble lately? It’s a pretty startling prospect to know your book could end up somewhere in that galaxy of a million other books. What will make a reader choose you over your competitors?

A well designed, effective Author’s Platform.

This is such a daunting prospect for authors I talk to and work with that I thought it might be a good idea to feed the details to you a little at a time. Keep in mind, the whole point of your platform is to have a nice, solid base to stand on while you’re shouting out your message. Without a strong platform, your orange crate or makeshift cardboard box just may collapse. No platforms built of sticks or straw like the three little pigs … only a sturdy Author Platform will do!

A powerful platform gives an author a voice, an identity that connects with the coming book, and a place to shout out the news. It qualifies the author, clearly stating to the prospective buyer that you are the right person, the ONLY person, to write that book and the one to buy it from too. If you’re traditionally published, a great Author’s Platform lets your publisher see that you are one of the few worthy of their limited promotional dollars because you’ve already proven it before the book even comes out. If you’re self published, it’s simply a smart business move to pave the way for the success of your investment.

AND, never forget, the sales of your first book will determine the success of your second. Your book must initiate and fly high within a one-to-three month launch window. If it doesn’t, your publisher will move on to another author who has developed a great platform, or you will have lost some money and be storing your self-published books in your garage. The statistics are sad. 98% of new books do not make the sales grade in their first quarter on the market, so it behooves an author to establish and rock a powerful platform to assure success.

Over the next eight weeks, every Tuesday I will cover another aspect of creating and developing your specific Author’s Platform. Subjects covered will include:

  • Creating a Book Business Plan
  • Developing Your Unique Hooks. What Makes You So Special?
  • Tricks to Perk the Prospective Buyers
  • Knowing Your Market
  • Planning Effective Pre-launch Exposure
  • Understanding and Using Professionals to Help Build Your Career
  • Estimating and Limiting Expenses
  • Time is on Your Side!

Hopefully this mini blog seminar of simple lessons will help eliminate the mysticism behind building an Author’s Platform, and make a few authors more successful along the way! See you next Tuesday!

Oh, and BTW, imagine what you wish when you think about doing the hard work of constructing your Author Platform. This one is my imagining …

Sigh …..