This post, by Carolyn Kaufman, originally appeared on her Archetype Writing site in July of 2009. While it’s over four years old, the post’s coverage of the basics of author platform is still applicable to any author just starting out with platform.
What is a platform?
A platform is name recognition of some kind. Celebrity, if you will.
Why do you need one?
A platform will help you attract the attention of an agent and later a publisher. Why?
Because having a platform proves that you:
* Care enough about your project to promote it
* Have some marketing savvy
* Come with a built-in fan based (read: guaranteed sales)
More importantly, a good platform will help sell your book when it comes out. Fewer and fewer publishers are putting money into promoting books — especially books by unknowns and newcomers. That means that the onus of promotion falls almost completely (and sometimes completely) on you, the author. You are the one who’s going to be making people aware of the book, and convincing them to buy it. You are the one who’s responsible for making the book a success.
Just sit with that for a minute.
Your job doesn’t end with writing the book. It doesn’t end with landing an agent or even a publisher. These days, you must also be a marketing expert.
The good news is, you can learn how if you don’t know. And I’m going to help you get started.
Do you already have the makings of a platform?
If you’re writing nonfiction, do you have any of the following in the area you’re writing about?
* Advanced degrees or certifications (e.g. MA, PhD)
* Teaching experience
* Speaking experience (e.g. you’re the pastor of a large church, you give presentations to large corporate groups)
* Professional (i.e. on-the-job) experience
* Expert experience (i.e. have you been quoted in newspapers or magazines as an expert on your topic?
* Published articles in local (good) or national (better) magazines or newspapers
* A polished, professional-looking website or blog
If you’re writing fiction, do you have any of the following?