OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
What is an author platform?
The author platform is how you are currently reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing machine!
Here are some examples:
- Are you already famous? Maybe just in your niche but are you already a household name because of something? If yes, you have a platform and will likely get a book deal. Think Paris Hilton or George W. Bush – they don't need to know how to write to get published! I suspect this category does not include anyone reading this blog!
- Do you already have a speaking platform? Can you get audiences of several thousand to pay to come and see you?
- Do you already have an existing business with clients and customers who will buy your book?
- Do you have a popular blog or website that reaches thousands of people? Think Gary Vaynerchuk and Christian Lander's “Stuff White People Like”.
- How big is your email list of people who subscribe to your newsletters or ezines?
- Do you have a huge podcasting audience who are raving fans and want to buy your books? Think Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins.
- Can you develop a massive following using web 2.0 technologies? Think Tim Ferriss who used the leverage of bloggers to promote “The Four Hour Work Week” into a huge hit.
- Do you have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook or mySpace? Can you convert those into book buying fans?
- Have you already had a self-publishing hit book that you have successfully marketed yourself? Think Lisa Genova's ‘Still Alice' and Christopher Paolini ‘Eragon'.
If you don't have any of these right now, never fear. Most of these people took time to build their platforms.
We all start somewhere! If you start a blog today, or a podcast
Why do you need an author platform?
If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove your books will sell. Many agents/publishers will not even consider you if you don't have a platform already. If you don't believe me, check out this post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner who says “you really need to show that you are willing and able to put the time and effort into marketing yourself and building a readership online“.
If you are a self-published author, you need a platform to sell your books.
If you haven't written a book yet, you need to start building your platform so you have one when your book is ready.
Book-selling is a business for publisher and author alike. We all need to eat! Some of us would like to eat really excellent food at superb seafood restaurants, and not just mince and beans. So selling books is important to us all. There are thousands of books published every month. There are millions of blogs online. What makes you stand ahead of the pack? Why will people buy your book?
How can you build your author platform?
So many ways! They all take some time and effort. There is no magic bullet. You will get there, but only if you get started!