Building Your Platform Step by Step
by Paula Margulies
Whenever I speak at writers’ conferences, authors often ask me what is meant by the term “platform.” Simply put, your platform is all about you — the experience, background, and expertise you bring to the table, in addition to the wonderful book you’ve written.
The concept of platform is important when selling a book because it’s what the media, especially radio and TV folks, are most interested in when it comes time to set up promotional appearances. I once had a radio producer in New York tell me, “Paula, I don’t give a damn about this author’s book; I want to know about his background and experience. If he doesn’t interest me, his book never will.” This may sound a bit harsh, but it’s all too true in the world of publicity. If you want premium exposure for your book through traditional radio and TV, you are going to be the story.
And it should be a good one. Media producers expect authors to be knowledgeable and/or experienced in their subject matter, whether the book is non-fiction or fiction. If you have a compelling personal history, expertise in the industry you’ve written about, or an interesting angle to bring to the interview, then you’re more likely to get a yes nod from a producer trying to a fill radio or TV time slot. Reporters and producers look for individuals who are unique, compelling, and entertaining as interview subjects. If you’re a celebrity or have notoriety in your field, the pathway will be easier. But if not, you’ve got to develop a platform that will intrigue members of the media if you want to get maximum exposure for your work.
So, how do you go about building your platform? Many authors write about subjects that fascinate them, but they don’t always have expertise in those areas. When this is the case, I recommend the following:
Teach or give lectures, presentations, and workshops on the topic, even if it’s one you only know through research.
Keep a list of the presentations you give, and include them in your bio.
Get testimonials from the organizers and attendees at your talks and print them on all of your promotional material, including your website.
If you haven’t yet done so, create a website and a blog for your book and update both regularly with current information.
Follow other blogs in your subject area and comment on them. List your website and blog URL when you write comments, and develop relationships with bloggers and blog readers in your subject area.
Use your blog posts as starting points for articles that you can then send to established websites, blog sites, and trade publications.
Offer to become a guest blogger or reviewer on other sites, and invite experts in your subject area to guest write for your blog and website.
Make connections with experts in your subject area and ask them to endorse you and your book.
Demonstrate your passion for your subject when you speak about it. Know recent statistics and be able to talk about new research or events relevant to your subject area.
Develop an up-to-date curriculum vitae (c.v.) that lists all your accomplishments and achievements and demonstrates how well you know your subject area.
Many authors are lucky to have agents who understand the importance of platform and are willing to help them develop the items listed above. But self-published authors, or others who don’t have agents, may need to do some of the development work on their own.
Take a look at your platform and if it needs developing, get going on building it, one step at a time.