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What the heck is an author platform already? Part #1

August 11, 2008 at 11:08 am

What is it about your manuscript proposal that will entice an agent and/or an editor?

Or will it?

Is it the box of chocolates you send with your ‘script? The shocking pink plastic folder with the rubber clasp? The patchouli oil spritzed on the pages? (I just made that up, I’ve never heard of such a thing)

Even though chocolates are always appreciated, the delightful little morsels really don’t factor into the publishing decision. But, you knew that. If it were only that easy.

Rather, a number of elements need to be present to be seriously considered. Celebrity, sales track record, writing style (yes, this still has meaning), timeliness, market appeal, the placement of the moon, sun, and stars, and…drumroll, please… platform.

Ok, here it goes. An author platform is that which  the author brings to the table. What they contribute to the overall exposure of their book.

Fantasy platform scenario:

I have written about a topic that is just starting to bubble up in the news. I have previously sold lots of books (over 50,000 per title)  in the past and my name is recognized by booksellers, librarians, and book buyers. My current platform includes a syndicated column in a major daily newspaper, regular guest spots on popular radio shows, I’m the “go to person”  on my subject on both local and national tv news, I have a wildly popular blog, I’m on a perpetual lecture tour, and I’m an Oprah favorite. My name is Bionic Woman.

Sound a little unrealistic? Perhaps. But, get the idea? If you’re not involved in anything vaguely platform-ish, you better get your wood, hammer and nails and start building.

What would I recommend to you first? Create a website. Give people a destination where they can easily find you. Start a blog. (and learn something about how to grow these two technologies)

The idea is to constantly work to expand your audience, BUILD YOUR MAILING LIST, find ways to get your name, face and work in front of more and more and more people. Spend some time thinking about this. Does it mean planting seeds on a grass roots level (what am I, a gardener?) and building from there? Or can you land yourself a national outlet from which to spout your wisdom? In either case, good luck.

There’s much that can be done both above ground and below (my personal designations for things off and online). The more area you cover, the more chances you can be found. Remember, HCI published a book called “Crazy Aunt Purl’s Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair ” by Laurie Perry that was born from a blog. The www.crazyauntpurl.com got so much attention from readers that Laurie came to HCI with an already well-crafted platform.

From there, her self-generated exposure (platform) translated naturally into a great publicity story. Sales grew exponentially (and continue to grow) from radio interviews, bookstore appearances, speaking engagements at women’s shows and specialty shops, tv interviews and mentions in some pretty impressive print media outlets.

Take this all in. Explore the wonderful blog Laurie has expertly cultivated and think of how you can get yourself “out there”. Remember, it’s not what you promise a publisher what you will or can do. It’s what you ARE DOING that will matter most.

Send in your ideas. I’ll be glad to give you feedback.

write me and I’ll send you a FREE copy!
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Comments (2)

2 Comments »

    I just stumbled upon this blog by accident through an HCI email. How helpful! I have that psychology self-help book in my head – not on paper. (I’m an LPC.) You are very encouraging and offer great practical advice. Will definately do the morning pages and will keep up with this blog.
    If the free book is still available, I’d love to have one.
    Anyhow – keep up the blogs!

    Cheryl

    Comment by Cheryl SturtzAugust 27, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    Hi,

    Thank you for talking more about platforms. One thing to add: engage with your readers. You do a good job of this by answering questions and exchanging e-mails.

    If the book is still available for free, I’ll take one.

    Sincerely,

    pati

    Comment by patiAugust 13, 2008 @ 1:14 am

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