Guest article by Patricia Fry
If you’ve been poking around at writing and publishing sites, attending writers’ conferences and reading about authorship, you’ve heard/read the term platform. You may even know what it means. It’s your way of attracting readers for your book. It’s your following, your level of notoriety and the power of your personal and professional contacts. The extent of your platform can be the defining factor in landing a publisher for your memoir, novel or self-help book. But the scope of your platform will also determine your book’s ultimate success.
You hear experts say, “The best time to start establishing your platform is before your book is ready to make the rounds of agents and/or publishers.” I maintain that hopeful authors should start building a platform before they write the book. Here’s how:
1. Build promotion into your book before it is a book. For fiction, choose your setting carefully. Make sure it is conducive to promotion. Select a city that’s interesting-one in which the citizens take pride. If you story portrays a positive view of the community, residents of this town are apt to welcome you for author events.
Involve characters in current issues: autism, gang activity, politics or childhood obesity, for example. Give a character a horse or a motorcycle. This gives you additional ammunition for promoting. Write for an audience base that goes beyond the typical mystery or romance reader.
2. Establish an active and or even interactive website related to your book. The earlier you build a website the sooner you can start promoting the concept of your book and, by the way, your expertise and/or talent in your topic or genre. Hopeful authors frequently ask me, “Once I finish my book, should I design a website just for the book?” I tell them, “No! Do it NOW. Get potential customers accustomed to visiting your site in order to glean information or to be entertained. Entice them to come regularly by writing a daily or weekly blog, running contests, introducing new features and presenting new concepts.
3. Hone your public speaking skills. Whether you are writing a thriller, children’s story, historical novel, memoir, how-to or a book of abuse and recovery, one of your greatest assets is your personality and your personal touch. If you aren’t accustomed to speaking in public, take steps to become skilled. Join Toastmasters. Take on leadership roles at work. Go out and practice speaking in front of people. Personal presentations sell books and this is true whether you’re reading your book to children at the local library or traveling thousands of miles every year presenting workshops to professionals.
4. Create one or more programs around the theme of your book and start presenting them now. Yes, do this even before your book is a book. If you hope to land a traditional royalty publisher, this will go a long way toward impressing him or her. If a publisher has half dozen magnificent book manuscripts to choose from, he’s going to pick the one that will make him the most money. How does he decide? He’ll choose the author with the best platform-the author who has an audience and/or a measure of notoriety in his or her field or genre.
5. Become known in your field or genre by getting involved with appropriate websites and organizations. Affiliations are important when it comes to establishing your platform. And why wait until your book is published? Become familiar with organizations related to your topic or genre. Join those that you feel can help move your career forward through education and/or association. Become known by participating.
6. Write articles on your topic or stories in your genre and widely submit them to appropriate publications. This is an excellent way to get your name out and attract an audience. Article/story-writing is a field in and of itself, so make sure you become familiar with the process. Read “A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles,” http://www.matilijapress.com .
7. Develop a massive mailing and email list and keep adding to it. Don’t take your mailing list for granted. Treasure it. Protect it. Keep adding to it. Not only will it be useful in launching your marketing plan, but some of your contacts may actually provide additional promotional opportunities. Do you know someone who heads a major corporation where you could give seminars reflecting the theme of your book? Maybe you have a friend who plans conferences internationally, who runs a TV station or who is of celebrity status. The size of your mailing list is important, but so is the content.
8. Establish a newsletter and distribute it to your email list. Use your mailing list to notify people when your book is published, to inform them of your appearances, etc. And consider starting a newsletter to dispense additional information and announcements on a more regular basis.
There’s much that you can do to promote your book even before it is a book and to establish your platform along the way.
About Patricia Fry
Read more about platform and every other aspect of producing a book in Patricia Fry’s NEWLY revised 2nd edition book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book and order the accompanying, “Author’s Workbook.” Follow Patricia Fry’s informative blog at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog