How Gary Vaynerchuk built a “platform” and attracted a 10 book deal with Harper Collins

 On HarperStudio’s blog yesterday was the news that they have offered Gary Vaynerchuk a 10 book deal. Maybe you haven’t heard of GaryV, but yesterday I discovered why authors need to know about him and how he got his book deal.  


So why did Harper Collins offer Gary a 10 book, 7 figure deal? 

One word answer: platform.

A platform is a way to reach people, it’s a following and from the publisher’s perspective, it’s people who will buy your books. And why does Gary V have a platform?

Passion creates a niche. Do what you love.

When you watch Gary in action, you know he is passionate! Check out one of his wine video blogs and be amazed. This guy is enthusiastic! You don’t have to copy his style, but you do need to follow your passion. In the above video, he says “stop doing stuff you hate”, and that is true for writers and creative types as much as anyone else. Identify what you hate doing, and stop it. (I hear you saying that you can’t but believe me, there is a way! Leave a comment if you need some help. )

He also says that if you do what you love, you can monetise it. Break out of the mindset that you just have to write a book, sell it to an agent/publisher and repeat in order to make a living. You can do so much more with your content it is amazing! (more on this author/entrepreneur idea in future posts)

Be authentic. Be transparent. Be real. Build brand equity.

Gary does not hide anything from what I have seen. He is so very real, it is probably scaring the introverted authors reading this! But his authenticity is what attracts people to him. He does video everywhere and seems to be openly honest. “The only way to succeed is to be completely transparent”. If you build a brand, you can build a business based on that – whether it is through your books, your speaking or other products. 

Connection and caring for your readers/viewers

Gary connects with his viewers and the people who follow him. He says he responds to all email personally, and he works ridiculous hours to make sure he is connecting. He also talks about the social networks – you need to be there and you need to connect with your readers, or potential readers. (Incidentally, he rates as the most powerful website in the world right now – here’s more on twitter)

Persistence. Work hard. Don’t give up.

Gary took over his family’s wine business and built it up over 7 years. Then he gave it up to start Wine Library TV. He did it 5 days a week for 17 months before he started getting any attention. He is now on #652 of his videos (each are half hour of quality TV!) so he is not an overnight success. He works incredible hours and continues to post daily. He is not resting on his laurels. He suggests working at nights if you have a day job, stop watching TV and get on with it.


The internet is all about free information now. You have to understand that your content needs to be free. This model is new and strange to authors (especially if you spend years writing your book). But you need to give and give in order for people to find you, and then they may want to spend money on the products you have available. You have a premium product on top of the free information. You don’t need to give away your book for free (although Cory Doctorow uses that model), but you can post chapters, excerpts, tips, information, downloads, audio, video on your blog for people to sample. Gary gives so much away for free but he also has a Wine Club as part of Wine Library TV (and many more monetisation strategies!)

It is important to note here that your free information has to be of great quality “If you pump out good shit, people will come”

Attraction. People attract people (attract book deals)

I LOVE the fact that Gary did not chase this book deal. Harper Collins went to him. They saw his popularity, his platform, his attraction and approached him. He did not ask for a book deal, he did not pursue publication. He did not do a book proposal, or a query letter, or receive rejections from agents or publishers. He just does what he loves and built his business, and attracted the opportunity. “The gatekeepers are no longer in control”. The internet frees all of us to be noticed. Mainstream media now follows the net so you can build your own platform.

I would love a 10 book deal. I’m sure you would too. I am going to learn my lessons from GaryV so I hope this has also helped you see a new model for authors to follow!

There is also a video version of this post here on how you can build your author platform. 

Original version of this posted at The Creative Penn