At every conference I go to, the conversation ends up at least touching on author platform. What most aspiring authors don’t realize, however, is why platform is so important. Platform constitutes pre-release promotion of yourself and your book for the sake of creating successful post-release promotion activities. Without a platform, you have a lower likelihood of creating a successful book—one that sells an above average number of copies or hits the bestseller lists.
Platform Provides the Foundation for Promotion
Your author platform provides the foundation for your book’s promotion plan, also called a marketing plan. When you take the time to create visibility and awareness for yourself and your book before your book is released this increases the effectiveness of your post-release promotion efforts . In simple terms, building platform helps you sell books.
Why? Because you have people to sell to, such as your followers on social media sites, your blog readers, or the subscribers to your newsletter. Pre-promotion creates a built-in readership for your book in your target market. That’s an author platform.
Platform Proves You are Willing to Promote
Publishers are extremely interested in a nonfiction author’s platform. (A platform will help a fiction writer sell a book as well.) They want to go into business with writers who are willing to help sell their books; the fact that you have put in the time and effort to build a platform provides proof that you are willing to help sell your book once it is published. An aspiring nonfiction author with no platform and an ambitious promotion plan comes across as unconvincing. Why should the publisher think you will promote after publication if you haven’t done so yet?
If you plan to self-publish, you need to think about this as well. If you aren’t willing to promote yourself and your book now, will you be willing to do so later?
Develop a Successful Author Mindset
When you realize that every thing you do to promote yourself and your book moves you one step closer to successful authorship, it becomes a bit easier to make time for platform-building tasks. Wrap your mind around the fact that a platform provides you with an essential ingredient for success down the road and you will find it easier to wrap your arms around all the things you can do to create it.
And platform-building tasks don’t have to feel promotional—and shouldn’t.
Take the PBS Approach
There’s no need to feel like a used car salesman as you tell your ideal readers about yourself and your book. After all, as a nonfiction author you have knowledge, wisdom, information, and inspiration to offer. You can provide valuable content every day without anyone ever knowing you are actually promoting anything at all.
Think of yourself like a public broadcasting station and take the PBS approach. Provide fantastic information day in and day out most of the year. Give your blog and social media followers information that provides real value and that helps potential book buyers know, like and trust you. Then, when your book is released, you can feel you’ve earned the right to put on a “telethon”—a sales event to promote yourself and your product. Your “viewers” won’t resent this. They’ll understand and appreciate the fact that you are offering them one more benefit—a book, and they will open their wallets and “give.” They will purchase your book.
For this to happen—for your telethon to work effectively—you must have viewers, listeners, or readers. You must have a platform, a foundation. Without it, few people will show up for any type of promotional event you create upon release of your book.
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