What is it?
“An author’s platform is something you specifically bring to [your book’s] promotion that will increase your book’s visibility in a way that another author might not be able to do” (Kate Epstein, literary agent). The point: Authors who work hard on this before submitting their proposal have an advantage.
Will 1,000 Facebook followers do?
Think real contacts who will act in helping authors build or organize their platforms. I’ve discovered that authors think too broadly as to what counts.
These are not an author’s platform because (1) either the connection between the contact and the author is not fully formed or (2) the author stands in a crowd, but isn’t yet standing head-and-shoulders above the crowd.
So what have you done so far?
For nonfiction authors, have you been giving talks, demonstrations, or workshops on your book’s subject? For fiction authors, are you connected with writing groups, getting feedback from peers, and attending writers’ conferences?
How many email addresses have you entered into your email manager? How many have received a personal note from you, thanking them for their assistance and asking them to reply to get more information about your forthcoming book?
What else can you do?
If you have a Facebook page, you might add a company page, naming it the title of your book (or subject with a twist), and promote it or suggest the page to friends. Those who like the page are part of your platform.
Prior publications can also be part of a platform when the author has built a following from one to the next. Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) had a platform as being a well-regarded memoirist, biographer, and journalist before her new title. (Of course, none of that suggested the spectacular success of her new book, but still …) What prior publications (including things other than a book) do you have? We need the titles and citations (magazine or journal, etc.) to help connect with you.
Can you find out about buyers of your previous titles? They might appreciate knowing about your forthcoming work and the connection between them. Make your fans insiders.
Where does your market gather and list 3 ways you can reach them there. Many groups gather online, and this can be a great way, not to pitch your book, but to make contacts and post comments that tag you as a leader in each group.
What should you to do next?
Print this page and pursue some of the links, below. If you were not able to list many things for an item, then circle the item. Obviously, if you do not have any prior publications, then that item will need to be skipped. Otherwise, target one item that seems to offer you the most pay-off or, because you can finish it quickly, the speediest benefit. Start there.
Will Self-Publishing Get Me Off This Hook?
Self-publishing will not get you off the hook for an author platform, but instead will intensify it because you will become the only (or sometimes, primary) publicity and sales promotion advocate for your book. Getting published well is not only finding a good publisher but also helping your book reach as many book buyers as possible. You can hire this work done, but you will become a more effective author when you build and manage your own author’s platform.