As I prepare to return to the Southern California Writers Conference this weekend to teach writing workshops and offer read & critique sessions to writers of all genres, I can’t help but think about what has kept me very busy for the past six months with clients and businesses alike: building platforms.
Until about 10 years ago, the word “platform” was unknown to most people outside the public relations and marketing world. Now, every publisher and most literary agents are requiring that anyone trying to sell a book — writers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, celebrities, athletes — enter the publishing arena with a strong existing platform before they bother to pitch their book or message with a book proposal and sample chapters.
This scares 90% of working writers to death — with good reason. Most writers don’t consider themselves strong self-promoters, let alone experts on social media, social networking, traditional media, promotions or marketing. Yet, in today’s world, you need to know how to factor all of these tools into your ability to sell your book — even if you’ve signed with a publisher. And you also need to know where to turn for help. I’ve been fortunate in this respect, since I owned a public relations agency for seven years and now have migrated those skills to book and brand promotion — and offered those services to authors.
Which begs the million-dollar question: What is a platform?
Quite simply, a platform is the way in which you build public awareness in yourself and your company or message — or, in the case of an author, your book. The greater the public awareness, the greater number of potential readers or customers — and the greater your platform. The bigger and more expansive your platform, the closer you are to becoming a household name, at least among the target audience of your book or business initiative.
That’s what book publishers are looking for, because it guarantees a core group of people likely to buy your book. No matter how wonderful your relationship is with your agent, or the acquisition editor of a publisher, it all comes down to one thing with virtually all publishers, from the biggest New York houses to your own self-publishing initiative: SALES.
This leads to the next question: How do I build a platform that expands awareness in my book and myself, and attracts these very discerning publishers?
The quick answer: One plank at a time — starting RIGHT NOW, no matter where you are in the writing process of your book or the process of converting your message and practices to published form.
We’re going to spend the next four blog posts focusing on the following four essential elements of building platforms:
1) Strong Traditional Media Presence — Print, Online, Consumer and Trade
2) Strong Online Presence — Websites and ACTIVE Blogs are a must
3) Strong Social Media/Networking Presence — If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, sign up NOW
4) Outside Activities Related to Your Book Subject — This includes participation in workshops, conferences, teaching, speaking engagements, seminars and the like.
We’ll address each of these elements in future blog posts. Also know that we offer top-of-the-line platform building services and consultation to authors of all genres. Our goal is the same as yours: to see you in lights, and to see your book published.
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