5# The Platform

The platform.  You’ve heard me speak of this before. What is it exactly?

In short, it is the execution of a writer’s business and marketing plan to draw in a fan base before they have a book to sell. It is a writer’s fan base.  There is only one way to sell a book.  Step into the public eye via, internet, ads, radio, and other media sources, and tell them its there.

You can do this in one of two ways.  You can step into the public eye with a reputation or without.  Which do you think is guaranteed more success?  A platform is your status in that public eye.

The easiest way to understand how a platform works is to change the way you think about the publishing business.  Before a writer can sell a book to the masses, the writer must first attract the masses through a platform.  This way, the writer has a fan base to sell their book to when it releases.

Aspiring authors put the cart before the horse.  They think they will write a great book and sell it to…crickets  This is the dilemma.  A writer should build a platform and attract fans before (or as) they write the book.

Understand, that when a book is released, you have a very short window to draw in sales.  If you have no platform — no followers or fan base — it will significantly hurt your sales, and your odds of success decreases. To increase your chances of success, build your platform first.  The larger your platform, the higher your rate of success.

The concept behind a platform is simple. Unless people know, it won’t sell. This is true of every and all products available out there today. The idea is also applied to books. If people don’t know about a book, it won’t sell. So how does a writer make the people know? How does an aspiring author learn that their novel is there, waiting and ready to be loved by the masses?  This is where the platform enters the publishing process.

Unfortunately, too many aspiring authors don’t know a platform exists, what it entails, or how to build one. To be an author, one must also be a sales representative and a business owner. The writer sells the book to their agent through a query letter, who then sells the book to a publisher.  Now for the hard part: selling the book to the masses.

The platform draws in a writer’s supporters before the book is written, so the writer has someone to sell the book to when the book hits the shelves.  To do this, a writer requires a business plan complete with a marketing goal.  Then, a writer will be ready to inform consumers about the product and be ready to convince readers that it is worth their time.

So how does an aspiring author without a reputation to his/her name do it?

Motivation, drive, and commitment.  Marketing, networking, and a good idea.  Develop a brand, build a logo with a mission statement, and sell that, not your book.  Motivate followers through your mission statement so when you have a book to sell, fiction or non, you can sell it.

When should I start my platform?

NOW! In truth, when you start writing a book, you should start your platform.  You should have a platform well developed before you submit your first query letter so you can mention it in your letter.

But I don’t have a book to sell on my platform!

You’re not selling your book on your platform. You’re selling you, the author, on your platform. I had a conversation just last night with an attorney who was helping me understand the difference between owning a business and being a business.

“Own the business.  Don’t be the business”.

But when I asked him about writers selling their books, if J.K. Rowling was a business entity or a person, he answered, “The author is a product, not a business.”

Harry Potter isn’t t the product.  J.K. Rowling is.  You weren’t buying Harry Potter.  You were buying J.K. Rowling.  Rowling is still selling books.  Harry Potter is no longer being written.

When you sell your book, you are selling a piece of you. How can you expect to sell a piece of you if no one knows who you are? By building and developing your platform.

You’ve convinced me. How do I start my platform?

Start a website or a blog. You can read the step-by-step instructions here on how to get started.  Write out a business plan (you can find templates online). Open accounts with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. These are called social media links. Connect them through your website to make it easier for future fans to follow you.  And I promise you, if you make it hard for them, you’ll lose them.

Design a brand, a logo, or both.  Create a mission statement, and sincerely support your goals. Reach out to the public through the local community, public libraries, schools, and booksellers with your idea. A working knowledge in business couldn’t hurt either.

The public eye is out there.  Now get in front of it.  But be sure you have something worth saying, aside from “buy my book”.

Find an angle, something new and something that has never been done before and go for it! Be prepared to explain to an agent or a publisher how you plan to sell your book because once that pristine novel hits the shelves, without the platform, it will go nowhere.

To learn more on building your writer’s platform, visit http://www.yourwriterplatform.com

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