"...everything in life is writable...if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."..... Sylvia Plath

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A strong platform: What it means for writers

Do you recognize this man? 
It's because he has a strong platform
If you are planning on publishing a book traditionally, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, you are going to need to develop a platform, especially if this is your first book. You may be wondering just what a platform is, what it has to do with you as an author, and if and when you should develop one.
Your author platform determines your reach in the marketplace and it's important to your book promotion success. There are lots of definitions for author platform, but it basically boils down to three things: your brand, your reputation and your connections.

When publishers evaluate book proposals, they want an idea of how well known you are and how successful you will be at promoting your book once it's published so a strong author platform is critical. A platform is just as important for authors who publish independently.

The best time to start building your author platform is before you write your book or book proposal. It takes time to build your platform but, regardless of where you are on the publishing trail, you can continue to strengthen your author platform as you go along.

Branding helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It can include: your logo, book covers, the color scheme you use, your distinctive style of writing or speaking, and your academic qualifications, as well as your picture and you tag line (e.g. Jane Doe, the love Doctor) All of these elements together constitute a recognizable brand that makes you memorable and builds credibility as part of your author platform.

Your reputation 
Your author reputation refers to how well known you are known, what you are known for, and how credible you are. Part of that reputation may include a degree, special training, extensive experience  or professional certification in your area of expertise. You may have won awards, had media experience or written and published articles. Leadership positions, speaking engagements and interviews will also help to get you recognized, as will reaching out on the Internet through blogging and social networking.

If you've written other books, people need to know about it. Promote your books on your blog, get them reviewed, guest post and link from other sites to your blog. Boost your author reputation and expert status by increasing the number of people you are trying reach. Find ways to highlight your credentials in your marketing materials and on line. The Internet is an important vehicle...learn how to use it to your advantage.

Nonfiction authors can gain a reputation as experts through writing books and articles, speaking and teaching, and appearing on talk shows. Being quoted in other people's articles, and writing the foreword for other books may bring attention to you. Fiction authors can become known for their writing style and expertise in writing in a specific genre (children's, sci-fi, romance, or mystery) or for their niche within a particular genre (vampire stories, romantic adventure). Finally, testimonials and endorsements from celebrities and experts can add credibility no matter the genre in which you write..

You need to be to connected if your are going to market your book successfully. If yo have not already done so, begin by developing a contact data base of clients, prospects, colleagues, friends and family. You may, through your business or through socializing, be able to develop lists of people who've given you permission to contact them. If you know any celebrities or know someone who knows a celebrity they can help you spread the word about you forthcoming book.

Don't forget any associations, organizations, groups or clubs you are a member of. These can be good sources. Online networks such as Twitter, Face book and Linkedin are great places to network and, by the the way, besides these major ones, there are many more. You just need to spend some time looking for them and joining a few. It'll be worth it.

And then, very importantly, there's your blog. A blog doesn't have to be just a place where you go to rant, write about your favorite topics, or write chapters for your book. It's a great place to actually promote a forthcoming book...to let people in on what you're doing and how it's going and to peak their interest in your project.

Finally, you need to think about what you can do to increase your connections and to leverage those you already have. Partner with others to extend your reach. Remember platform building is an ongoing process. Think about ways you can strengthen your own author platform and map out a plan of action. You may not have the reach that Donald Trump has, at least not now. You may not even like him, but you can learn about building a platform from him and from the many others who have perfected the game.

if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment


  1. Great Article. Building a platform is so important for any writer. Too many authors make the mistake of thinking it can be done overnight - and it can't.

  2. Thanks, Austin, glad you liked the post. I'm in the middle of writing a memoir and decided to start building my online platform now, even though I may not get published for months or more. Gotta have faith that it'll happen...

  3. Hello Nancy! Thanks for your helpful writing!
    I am writing my first novel and I am I will keep this article in my memory while I slowly build my platform. :)

  4. Ann, So glad my article was of some help to you. How far along on your article are you?

  5. I am in the middle of my novel, so I have a long way to go. :)

  6. Ann, That's exactly when you should start. It takes time and effort. If you do a little at a time on a regular basis, by the time you finish your novel, you will have a stellar platform. And that will be a great selling point to agents, editors, and publishers.

  7. I think that many young people need to be reminded that building their net presence establishes a platform. Sometimes one that might take a while to repair, depending on where they want to go with their writing. I found your article to be a good read. Thanks.

  8. Hi Laura. I love this blog. I am an educational school psychologist about to write a non-fiction parent/teacher book and this is really helpful. I also just started blogging to develop more of a platform. (Did workshops BEFORE I blogged - my bad as my kids say...)

    I would love your opinion and ideas about my blog and topics if you have a chance: www.departingthetext.blogspot.com

    Thanks - I will visit again!

    Meryl Jaffe, PhD

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  10. I checked out your site...very interesting and informative

    I found the title somewhat confusing until I read the following: "The best type of learning is interactive. Hence the push to depart the text, seize the moment and make as much out any learning experience as possible."

    It might help if you developed the sub-title out of some of this explanatory info...(just a suggestion).

    As a HS and college teacher I became interested in interactive teaching. My thesis for my PhD was based on a study involving interactive teaching and how it is used to construct knowledge.