Have you ever wondered how a professional wrestler hit the New York Times (Mick Foley)? A TV host on Comedy Central (Stephen Colbert)? How about Snooki? Suddenly I feel a little depressed…
These fine authors have a built in audience. Their platform was already well established before they became authors. Each one had a fan base well before they wrote or sold their first book. They already had Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages, and – yes, thousands of people that went out and bought their book.
That’s your challenge as an author: To build communication channels that get you noticed, gain friends and followers that you can leverage to sell books and make lists! This is your author platform.
Your Author Platform Part 1: Reputation
I like for aspiring authors to think about their online reputation because I believe it is the basis for a platform. In the same way someone for HR or a Recruiter looks you up, so do potential buyers of your book (readers AND publishers). Your reputation is the core of how you are percieved online and therefore has a lot to do with attracting potential readers.
The “Golden Rule” for your reputation: Don’t be a jerk online. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but all that stuff your parents said is true. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all …. and treat others the way you want to be treated. If you insult other authors (Sidenote: Sorry Snooki!), or are mean to readers, you can alienate potential book buyers. Some people will buy your book anyway, but ultimately the things you say online stay around for a very long time and you can lose a lot of potential sales.
This also applies to in-person interactions. If you’re an author, your “business” is to sell books by marketing yourself. That means you need to be “on” and to put on the happy, cheery face to sell books. Consider this…I’ve been to two huge fan signings over the past couple years. I met someone that I was a huge fan of – that interaction made me less of a fan. I also met several people that I became a fan of because they were so nice. We all want to be gaining fans…not losing them.
Your Author Platform Part 2: Ability to sell books
However, the platform is more than just your reputation…it’s also a glimpse into your ability to sell books! Publishers consider this to be part of the package that they buy along with you. If you’re self published and hope to be traditionally published someday, the author platform just adds to the case ar to why they should buy you. Think about the “total package” of you as an author:
- Number of Facebook fans
- Number of Twitter followers
- Number of newsletter subscribers
- Website hits
- Anything else that may help you sell books… like a TV show, radio, etc.
Your Author Platform Part 3: Why You Should Build One
Self published or tradionally published, it’s all about selling books. As you build your online reputation, you’ll build the number of potential book buyers. The bigger the platform, the easier to command book sales and make bestseller lists.
If you are serious about wanting to sell books for a living (even if your book isn’t out yet!) – start working on your website/facebook/twitter and using them to build your author platform..