Tools for Authors — Tool #4 Building Your Platform

The last tool in this week’s series for emerging authors…

Many authors share a similar experience the first time out of the writing gate.  You’re so excited about your book, the one you’ve poured blood, sweat, tears, and hope into, then you find out…the publisher expects YOU to sell it.

Granted, their sales team is selling too, but typically only for one sales cycle, maybe two if it’s released later in paperback. 

Most days it’s you, the author, doing the marketing, selling, and promotion of your book.  Which is why you need a platform, and why most literary agents and publishers will not invest in a first-time author if they don’t already have one. (Yesterday I suggested non-traditional publishing options which can enable anyone, with or without a platform, to get into the writing business.)

What is a platform?  It’s your position of influence, your reach.  Your platform represents audiences you can get in front of and market to, potential buyers.  Your platform positions you to influence others, and in this case influence them to purchase your book.

Everyone has a platform and can grow it.  I use platform shoes to illustrate this when I speak at various Saks Fifth Avenue stores.  I’ll take a shoe with a small platform, one with a medium, and then a really high one, explaining how to build a platform one incremental stage at a time.

These few suggestions may be useful…

  • Speaking is perhaps the best way to grow a platform.  You may speak once, but lots of ears hear you and subsequently you’ve added new friends and followers.
  • Reaching out to associations and established networks can prove fruitful, since local chapters in various regions can recommend you and your book to others.  The Network of Executive Women has been a great example for me, and attendees represent a vast array of companies who in turn, become potential clients.
  • Proactively follow experts on social media platforms, and invite them to be part of your online efforts. This can link your platform to theirs and vice versa. 
  • Don’t be shy about experimenting, try a video blog, give away one chapter of your book for free, interview someone with a large platform via a webinar, hold your own conference or a seminar at your church or civic organization. Be bold and try a variety of strategies.

Women can sometimes feel reluctant about self-promotion efforts.  We don’t want to be seen as arrogant, too forward, or aggressive.  Still, if our voice is to be heard via writing, we have to let it be heard. 

One way I’ve overcome “promotion reluctance” is to view it as stewardship vs. promotion.  If I don’t steward the message I’ve written, who will?  Holding back is cheating others out of the gift I’m entrusted to give.  This viewpoint helps me feel responsible and compelled vs. reluctant and apologetic.

Michael Hyatt, who was Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers when they published my first book, is one of my favorite experts to follow on all things platform-related.  His new book, “Platform — Get Noticed in a Noisy World” is truly a must-read.

Put your name out there, enlist the help of influencers, and watch your platform grow! 

A super large platform, glitter, and that enviable red sole!

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