Some of you may be familiar with my ebook, The Author’s Repair Kit. I designed it for those of you whose books are faltering in the marketplace. I wrote it to help you heal your publishing mistakes and breathe new life into your book. Part of that process is working on your platform.
Of course, it is more desirable that you establish a platform before you publish your book. I know—you think you are busy before publication. However, the real work comes afterward. Most authors don’t believe this until they live it, but promoting a book is ten or even 100 times harder and more time-consuming than writing it.
If, despite the experts’ advice, you find yourself with a published book and no real platform, here are a few things you can do:
• Start now writing and submitting articles in your topic or stories in your genre to appropriate magazines, ezines and websites. Use Writer’s Market, writersmarket.com and/or woodenhorse.com to get you started. Presumably, your audience is reading these mags and visiting these websites.
NOTE: The point of your story or article is not to promote your book. It is to offer your potential readers information and/or entertainment so they begin to trust you as an authority in your field or appreciate your writing style. Your article or story will carry a brief paragraph at the end introducing you as the author of such and such book. Be sure to include your website address.
• Build an informative/entertaining, even interactive website designed to attract your audience.
• Participate in other websites related to the genre or theme of your book. If your book is a travel guide, get involved in the Chamber of Commerce site for the cities you cover. If it is a young adult mystery, find a way to become involved in young adult books and mystery sites.
• Go out and speak on your topic or about your novel. Give presentations and do book signings locally as well as at appropriate conferences nationwide. There’s no better way to reach your audience than by being a presenter at the conferences and other programs they attend.
• Get your book reviewed many times over. Most authors are aware of the important pre-publication reviewers. And most do not qualify for this honor. There are, however, numerous publications and websites that review or recommend books related to their purpose. Often, these reviews don’t generate many sales, but they get your name out there as the author of the latest book on model airplanes, traveling to Bali or how to overcome a nervous breakdown.
If this list seems familiar to you, it is because you have probably read it before. This is pretty much the same list you would follow if you were building your platform before writing the book. Yes, it takes thought, action and plenty of exposure.
Now some of you come into the publishing arena with built-in platforms. You lived the story in your book or you have a strong background in the topic of your book, but you still have to get out there and let people know about it. You still need exposure. Once you sell copies to your students, clients, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors, then what? Then, you must start introducing yourself and your book to the remainder of your audience.
Find out where your audience shops, what sites they frequent, what events they attend, what organizations they belong to, what magazines they subscribe to or read in waiting rooms, etc. Arrange to get exposure at these venues.
Think about it, what makes a bestseller? Readers! And what entices people to go out and buy books? Word of mouth is a powerful enticement. We buy books we read about and hear about. We read new books by our favorite authors and we purchase books written by the experts we trust. Few of us will get the enormous exposure of this nation’s bestsellers. But we do need to follow a similar path in order to become known and to get at least some exposure for our books.
One more word about platform—it won’t do you much good to go to the trouble of building one if your book is not up to par. More and more inferior books are flooding the market. Readers are constantly getting burned. Their trust in new authors is waning. It is important for the success of your own book as well as the reputation of us all that you produce the best product possible. And this means good writing, a worthwhile topic or story and excellent editorial polishing.