Platform. What is it, and do I need it?
Essentially a platform is all about your future book audience; those people who will hear your name and subsequently purchase your book.
It’s staggering how many authors don’t know about this vital area of their writing.
And, yes. Every author needs one.
The majority of writers leave building their platform until the last moment, just before submitting to a publisher.
Or, in the case of some, until after their book is published.
In today’s world, this simply isn’t good enough. From the moment an author gets the urge or call to write, they need to start carefully planning their platform.
As Christians we’re urged to not keep our light under a bushel; this extends to our writing/marketing.
It doesn’t glorify God if you’re called to write and don’t do everything in your power to get your book out there. After all, Satan’s doing his utmost for the other side, so why shouldn’t we?
If an agent or publisher asks what your platform is, what they’re really asking is;
How many Facebook followers do you have?
How often do you blog and how many people subscribe to your blog?
Are you a contributing member to any writing groups? By contributing they don’t mean monetary, they mean do you volunteer or help out in any way?
Are you involved in any church groups or community groups?
Do you speak at those groups or give talks at schools?
As you can see it’s all about the numbers. The higher the numbers, the more potential readership you have. The higher the potential readership you have, the more sales of your book. It’s a win-win situation.
So how does an author build a platform?
The same way we raise our children. We do it carefully, with much prayer, and one step at a time.
One of the easiest ways is through the internet.
A blog and a website are essential.
These days a lot of people are combining the two in order to save money. Personally I think it’s a great idea. Readers can go to the one spot to feast on what you have to offer.
Your blog must be consistent. Pick how often you want to add content and stick to it. Yes it can be hard work and you may lose focus. But, please don’t quit or ‘take a break.’ Once you lose readers it’s very hard to get them back. Make sure you have an opt-in box where they can subscribe to your blog/website.
Social networking sites.
Facebook is a must. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.
Not only should you have your personal page, but you should also have your professional author page. Interact with those who like your page, and make sure you network your blog to your page. I prefer blogs to be networked to bot h personal and professional pages.
LinkedIn is another site which is a must have for establishing platform. Professionals use it for seeking out potential clients and networking with like-minded people, so why shouldn’t you?
Rather than clogging up your blog with that latest website you’ve found, or an interesting snippet of celebrity gossip…Tweet it. Not only will you keep your blog clean and streamlined, but you’ll end up having people follow you. Remember those numbers we talked about earlier?
Give a business card to everyone you meet. Don’t have one? VistaPrint is one of the most popular sites for inexpensive business cards. Make sure you pay the little extra and have only your details, not theirs, advertised. Otherwise it just looks cheap.
Join forums. Do you home school? Breed exotic Chinchillas? Drag race every Saturday night? Search those groups out in which you have an interest and join them. Once you're published they'll be more than willing to help spread the word.
Write articles for popular websites. By setting yourself up as an authority, people will want to know more about what you have to say.
As you can see it's easy to start that platform. Just remember in the long run it's all about the numbers.
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