If you are writing a nonfiction book, you need to know one word: platform. Not only do you need to know what it means, you need to know how to build a big, strong, wide one for yourself and for your book to stand upon.
Fiction writers need a platform, too, as do both self-published and traditionally-published authors. All writers who aspire to be published book authors need to create a platform long before they begin peddling their books either to agents, editors or readers. However, platform is paramount for nonfiction writers.
So, what’s a platform and why do you need one? Here’s what I wrote in my booklet, Using the Internet to Build Your Platform One Article at a Time:
Today, most book publishers require that nonfiction writers take on most of the promotional and marketing duties necessary to sell their books. However, to accomplish this job, nonfiction writers have to begin promoting and marketing their books long before they hold the bound tome in their hands. They have to begin building what the industry calls a “platform,” a base of potential readers that know them as an expert in their field or on their subject from their speaking, writing and presence on the radio, television and Internet.
· Expert platforms consist of: numerous appearances on radio and Internet talk shows and television talk and news shows
· frequent quest blogs
· a well-known presence in on-line forums and social networks
· popular videos or podcasts
· frequent interviews on other peoples’ podcasts
· your own Internet, radio or television show
· a multitude of published articles or books in both print and Internet publications
· an extremely large mailing list
· frequent talks and presentations given to small, medium and large groups
Writers hate to hear about this business aspect of nonfiction writing, as well they should. It takes them away from the actual task of writing. Indeed, I spend about 80 percent of my time these days promoting myself — another way to say “building platform.” I write and submit ezine articles. I comment on blogs that pertain to my book topics. I blog. I write and post press releases. I chat in forums.
Then, of course, I spend time trying to drum up speaking work. This entails sending out press kits, writing emails, following up on possible engagements, and then actually traveling to and speaking at gigs, if I actually land them. (This makes me a speaker rather than a writer, which I always think seems a bit ironic given that I’m trying to become a successful, published author, not a speaker.)
One of the reasons platform represents such a huge issue revolves around the fact that publishers look at a writer’s platform when deciding if they will take on a book project. You might have a great idea and be a superb writer, but if you don’t have a platform a large or medium-sized publishing house likely won’t offer you a publishing contract. Sad but true.
The reason for this is simple: Publishing houses today don’t have the money to put behind publicity and marketing for every one of their author’s books. They expect writers to do most of the work of selling their books — and to put their money where their mouth (or writing) is.
Since none of us wants our book manuscript sitting in our computers or on our desks for all eternity, this year I’ve asked several experts to offer advice on how best to build platform. My first guest, national publicist Annie Jennings of Annie Jennings PR is known as “America’s leading publicity intelligence expert,” and she specializes in helping writers build their platforms with media placements, meaning with appearances on radio and television and interviews in print publications. Annie’s vision and insight has revolutionized the publicity industry as many of the publicity techniques, tools and strategies in widespread use throughout the industry today have been developed by Annie Jennings PR.
I asked Annie to submit a blog for Write Nonfiction in November about platform and platform building, and she offered an 18-point platform checklist to help writers “get the six-figure book deal.” As she explains it, “A platform makes you ‘THE CHOICE,’ not only ‘one’ of the choices – but ‘THE CHOICE.’” And when your proposal hits an editor’s desk, that’s what you want to be. That’s what will take your manuscript from unpublished to published status.
If you haven’t already started building yours, I suggest you take Annie’s advice on how to create a powerful platform. Here it is…
How to Create A Powerful Platform For Yourself:
The 18 Point Platform Checklist
By Annie Jennings
Annie Jennings PR
What is a platform?
A platform is everything that you bring to the table, such as accomplishments, education, businesses awards and successes, your reputation, your contribution to your industry and what you stand for, that is, your mission statement and lots more. A platform is similar to branding, but it is a step beyond traditional branding. A platform showcases you and allows people to understand who you are and how you can help them.
A platform is similar to the spokes in a wheel, each spoke is separate, yet each one is important to the whole. The more powerful the spokes, the more powerful the wheel – the more powerful your platform.
A platform is what makes the difference between getting the “six-figure advance” or getting the “account” or “closing the deal.”
How will our platform help us?
A platform is a “convincer.” It removes the doubt in anyone’s mind that you are the best choice for whatever it is—the speaking event, the keynote address, the consulting gig, and/or the book deal. It’s about creating certainty that you are indeed the best possible choice—supported by evidence. This evidence is what we call your platform; the spokes in your wheel and the evidence speak for themselves.
A platform allows you to stand above the rest—to be seen above the crowd. It allows you to rise to the top.
A platform makes you THE CHOICE. Not only “one” of the choices — but THE CHOICE.
Why? Because you deserve it!
How can I build my platform?
Many people have certain basic elements of the platform already and will need to build up in the other “spokes” or areas of a platform. Below is a checklist for you to follow.
Platform Check List:
1. Are you the author or co-author of books and articles? The more books and the more articles the better. E-books count also and are relatively easy to create.
2. Have you achieved Expert Status in the media, including TV, radio and print? Have you appeared on national TV, had articles written about you? Have you received media coverage in any other country? Are you mentioned in any national magazines or industry trade magazines as the commenting expert (Just a quote will do!). When the media thinks of your area of expertise, do they think of you?
3. Have you developed any products such as CD’s, video series, Internet courses, or any innovative products that have helped inform and educate your industry?
4. Are your books and articles appearing in other countries or being translated into different languages?
5. Do you have speaking engagements? Did you address large audience or companies with names people would recognize? Have you done an impressive number of speaking engagements? Have you spoken outside of the country? Were you a keynote presenter? The more well-known and influential your speaking engagements – the more powerful your platform. However, even if you are not at the top nationally, you can speak to other groups to help you build up in this area. We all have to start somewhere!
6. Did you contribute to your industry or achieve breakthroughs? Have you received awards or recognition? Did you develop new business processes that enhanced your industry? Have you built a better mousetrap? (For example, Annie Jennings PR’s Pay For Placement Publicity Program and HOT 25! HOT 35! or HOT 50! National Radio Campaigns have helped the PR industry greatly.)
7. Have you toured the country promoting your book? How many cities did you go through? How many interviews did you do? Where did you speak? Where did you hold book signings? Did you sell an impressive amount of books?
8. Have you hosted or co-hosted a radio show, or have been a regular guest? Do you have your own radio or local TV show? Internet shows are easy ways to get started!
9. Do you have endorsements or testimonials from industry leaders?
10. Did your book make it to any bestsellers lists? Did it receive any awards?
11. Are any companies offering your book or products to their staff? Or is your work distributed throughout any organizations? And if so, how many companies, employees and people did you reach?
12. Was your book featured in any magazines or excerpted for any periodicals? Did you write any professional articles that appeared in important industry journals?
13. Do you have an ezine community? How many subscribers?
14.Do you lead a discussion group via your ezine or on the web? Do you have a source of dedicated “listeners or subscribers”?
15. Do you blog on socially relevant issues of the day? Do you podcast?
16. Are you conducting teleseminars or webinars for your industry? How many callers do you have? Who have you interviewed? What topics did you cover?
17. What are your credentials? If you have them, they are part of your platform; however, notice this is the second-to-last question I am asking you. This is because in certain areas (of course, not in medicine, etc.) professional experience and accomplishments give you lots of “credentials.” However, if you can get credentials, go for it, as they only add to your platform!
18. Do you have a Mission Statement? This is very important! What is it that you stand for? What is your message to the world?
Do you need a team of professionals to build your platform?
Of course! Always surround yourself with brilliance. Plus, learn all you can about your website, writing your own web-friendly material, search engine placement, ezines, etc., so you know how to do these things yourself. And when choosing an expert to help you, always apply good judgment and be sure you understand the agreement in advance. Go over the fees involved, be sure the expert understands your objectives (show a visual if you can) and you understand what the expert can deliver. Always choose an expert with a strong history of achieving results. Do not work with start-ups, as this will cost you time and money, plus you do not have “certainty” that they can finish the job or provide the outcome you desire. (Start-ups need to develop their own platform so you will want to choose them later in their development but not as they are learning their skill set).
How long does it take to build a platform?
Since a Platform constitutes your accomplishments, it takes time to create a powerful Platform. However, NOW is an excellent time to examine your platform and learn, start and/or continue building your platform over time.
About Annie Jennings and Annie Jennings PR
The National PR firm Annie Jennings PR specializes in promoting authors and experts to the media and boasts of having over 35,000 authors experts as clients. Annie Jennings has been an invited guest lecturer for NYU’s Publishing Program and for the American Society Of Journalists & Authors. Annie Jennings PR has provided over 500 smash hit publicity teleseminars for consistent standing room audiences, reaching hundreds of thousands of author and experts. Annie is the premier publicity expert in the country with her knowledge sought out by professionals and organizations everywhere. Annie created the concepts of media websites and online press kits, defined how to create a powerful platform, and developed the most advanced branding concepts known to the industry, created the HOT 35! & HOT 50! Radio campaigns where you are only booked on top shows in major big city markets and on regional and nationally syndicated shows and crafted the revolutionary Pay For Placement Publicity Program that has helped thousands of authors and experts build powerful platforms and land six-figure book advances. Annie has made it her practice to freely share her publicity strategies with authors and experts so everyone can have access to PR strategies, both the basics and advanced PR thought, so they can share their messages with millions for the betterment of all.
For more information, contact Annie at:
Annie Jennings PR
[…] Then…then…you can actually self-publish your blog as a book–or self-publish a different book, and your blog readers will buy it. In other words, you’ve created a readership. You’ve built a platform, and that’s what every writer needs today. (If you don’t know what this term means, read this post.) […]