What’s an Author’s Platform Anyway?

I talk about building author platform a lot. I’ve even described and defined author platform. However, fellow author, blogger and speaker Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn, does a pretty good job of describing an author’s platform as well. So, today I thought I’d let her tell you what one is and why you need one.

Sometimes it helps to hear something from someone different or in different words. This can help you understand or assist in a concept sinking in and taking hold so you actually take action.

I’m harping on this subject of platform building again for the same reason I always do: All authors—established, aspiring, self-published or traditionally published—need a platform. Without one, you will have a difficult time selling books. If you don’t believe me, read what Joanna writes about this topic.

What’s an Author’s Platform Anyway?
By Joanna Penn

The phrase “author platform” has started to become a catchphrase in the publishing and book world, so I thought I would explain it if you are confused.

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!

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. Mega publisher Simon & Schuster has even started encouraging authors to blog, use social networking and video to promote their books. (More in this article.)

If you don’t believe me, check out this quote from 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?

Here are some examples of facets of an author platform:

  • Do you have a popular blog or website that reaches thousands of people? Think Gary Vaynerchuk and Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Do you have 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.
  • 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.

If you don’t have any of these right now, don’t worry! Most of these people took time to build their platforms. We all start somewhere!

Do you have an author platform already? How can you build one or improve the one you have with the ideas you’ve learned so far?

About the Author

Joanna Penn is an author, speaker and international consultant. Her blog http://www.TheCreativePenn.com provides articles, audio and video on writing, publishing, internet sales and promotion…for your book. Visit the site for your free Author 2.0 Blueprint: Using Web 2.0 tools to write, publish, sell and promote your book. You can also read more about Joanna’s “Blogging for Authors and Writers” online course. You can also find Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn.

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