Building your platform

You may have heard a lot about the author’s ‘platform’ and how important this is. So what does this mean, why do you want one and how do you build one?

What is a platform?

It is your credibility and your visibility. Simple as that.

Authority: Are you credible? Do you have authority as an author? What are your credentials? Have you had articles published in relevant publications? This is particularly important for non-fiction authors, and much less important for fiction authors – although it can still play a role. And a lack of credibility (i.e. negative credibility) as a fiction author will certainly count against you.

Visibility: Are you visible? Do people know about you? Do you have a ‘fan’ base or followers? Do you have a PR agent or a PR strategy? Have you had articles published in relevant publications? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? What relevant communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Are you regularly booked as a speaker? Do you have a social media presence?

Proof: How can you prove that you are visible? Can you show proof of engagement? How many followers do you have on social media? How big is your email list? Does you blog get comments? Do you have testimonials?

Target audience: Is your visibility relevant? Are you reaching your target market through your platform? If your book is a thriller and your authority and visibility is with dentists … it may not do you much good.

Why do you need a platform?

If you are looking for a traditional publisher for your book then they will want to know that you have a platform (and they will want proof). The bigger and stronger your platform the more likely it is that your book will sell – and as far as the publisher is concerned that’s one of the most important criteria when deciding which books to publish. If they can be sure that the book will sell, because you already have credibility and visibility, then they are much more likely to consider your book.

If you are planning to self- or independently- publish your book – then your platform is still important. After all you want to sell your book and don’t want it gathering dust in a box under the stairs. Your platform will help you sell your book and, if it’s a non-fiction book, it will also help build your business. For fiction authors the platform will drive sales and deliver other sales opportunities, for example signings, readings and talks.

So however you look at it – it’s important to build your platform.

How to build your platform

Start now. It is never too early or too late to start. Although it is true that the earlier you start, the better. In an ideal world you’d start building your platform as soon as you started thinking about writing the book. As soon as you know roughly what the book will be, and who your target market is – it’s time to start building your platform.

It takes a long time to build a platform so start as soon as you can and do little and often rather than a big splurge and then nothing.

All the actions detailed on The Book Booster website are designed to help you build your platform. All of them can be used before your book is even written and all the way until well after it has been published. Basically they can be used whenever and wherever you are in the book process in order to help you build your platform and sell your book.

So start as soon as you can, don’t worry that you are too early or too late – just get started. Do as many activities as you can as often as you can. Don’t fret about how much you do – just get started and do something. Everything helps and something is far better than nothing. Remember you don’t need to be perfect – but you do need to get started.