Anyone can write. The purpose of this post is to presume that you’d like to make way into monetizing your work. The percentage of authors who make a consistent living from their writing alone is quite slim. It’s good to have that goal but very helpful to have other things to offer such as speaking skills, professional services and expertise that is of interest in the industry. This is where platform building is best done, but it’s a daunting task so let’s try to make some sense of it and how to create a plan that will work for you.
Building Blocks of a Platform
- A website and/or blog with a large readership
- An e-newsletter and/or mailing list with a large number of subscribers/recipients
- Article/column writing for the media—preferably for larger outlets within the writer’s specialty
- Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals
- A track record of strong book sales
- Individuals of influence that you know—personal contacts (organizational, media, celebrity, relatives) who can help you market through blurbs, promotion, or other means
- Public speaking appearances—the bigger, the better
- An impressive social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, and the like)
- Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
- Recurring media appearances and interviews—in print, on the radio, on TV, or online
Statistics of an author platform:
- Expertise – 25%
- Contacts – 10%
- Social media – 10%
- Previous media – 10%
- Previous books – 10%
- Personality – 10%
- Existing readership – 10%
- Ability to execute – 15%
o Statistics provided by Brooke Warner, She Writes Press
What editors and agents typically mean by platform
They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience. Let’s break this down further.
§ Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work and where does it appear? How does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence?
§ Authority. What’s your credibility and credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role)
§ Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
§ Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction.
What a platform is not:
- Self promotion
- hard selling.
- It is not about annoying people.
- being an extrovert.
- being active on social media.
- It is not something you create overnight.
- It is not something you can buy.
- It is not a one-time event.
- It is not about your qualifications, authority, or experience, although these are tools for growing or nurturing a platform.
- It is not more important than your story or message (but hopefully it grows out of that).
Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find on or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best. It is more about putting in consistent effort over the course of a career, and making incremental improvements in extending your network.
o Source: Jane Friedman