7 Steps Any Author Can Take to Build A Must-Have Platform

authorI belong to quite a few author groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Recently, several members of a Facebook group weighed in on a discussion about securing an agent.

Many members expressed frustration with what is required in securing an agent. The primary frustration is that an author absolutely must build a platform.

A platform simply means the author has visibility and authority. According to one agent, in order to have a “sellable platform” the following is required.

  • Klout score of 60+
  • 20+ paid speaking engagements of $5,000 or more
  • Subscriber list of 25,000
  • Social media following of 150,000 plus
  • Syndicated column
  • TV or radio show
  • Blogger for major blog

Although this is what one agent requires, it’s not what every agent insists upon. However, most agents do require you have some type of presence. After all, book publishing and sales goes beyond a well written book. It’s about business.

Yep! The business of writing is about the business of writing. The sooner an author realizes this the better. business

No matter what route an author takes, you (the author) still need to know specifics about your market.

Developing a platform is needed whether or not you are represented by an agent.

I am both a speaker and author. The combination of the two is very powerful to both sell books and get speaking engagemntes. The two definitely go hand in hand.

I began my professional speaking career nearly 20 years ago. Back then, newbie speakers thought all would be wonderful if we could be represented by a bureau. It was the same “catch 22″ of needing to have a strong platform before a bureau was interested.

It can take years to develop a great platform, so it is best to start right where you’re at. Do something every single day to build your platform.

The fact is, it all takes work. Whether you’re self-published,  published by a traditional publisher, represented or not represented by an agent you have to be actively involved in the marketing of your book.

Imagine where you’ll be in a year if each and every day you focus on building a platform. And imagine where you will be in a year if you DON’T focus on building a platform.

Momentum begets activity. As you focus on gaining visibility, magical things begin to happen.

It pays for an author to know how to raise awareness about their book.

Here are a few things worth knowing:

Who is your reader?
Where do they hang out?
What social networks do they belong to?
What forums do they belong to?
What blogs do they read?
What radio shows do they listen to?
What experts do they follow?

The reason you want to answer these questions is so you can focus your visibility efforts to get in front of your readers and fans. . For example, by knowing what experts they follow you will know who to form aligned partnerships with. By knowing what blogs they read, you will know where to focus your guest blogging efforts. By knowing what forums they belong to, you will know what forums you need to participate in.

A few things sure to gain you (and your books) lots of visibility are:

1. Secure one radio interview per week. Blog Talk radio has endless opportunities to getting on shows. Hosts are always in search of interesting authors to interview.

2. Write articles and distribute to the various directories. Select six directories where your reader looks for articles. Some say article marketing is dead. I wholeheartedly disagree.

3. Blog on a regular basis – minimum of 2 – 3 times a week.

4. Use media releases to raise awareness. You can create a media release for just about anything.

5. Commit to making 2014 the year you gain massive visibility as an author.

6. Surround yourself with authors who know the importance of marketing.

7. Have fun. The more fun you can have the better.

PowerUp3D_HighResReady to make 2014 your best year ever? Learn proven insights into building an incredible author’s platform AND make money in the process, get my book, Power Up for Profits; The Smart Woman’s Guide to Online Marketing. Click here.

Comments

  1. Your second list of seven is a good one for EVERY online business owner!

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      So true Virginia. The complete list is something that could be used as a guide for ongoing marketing. Thanks for your comments.

  2. If folks will just take your suggestions and implement them into their strategy for 2014, their visibility and ability to increase their business will HAPPEN! You should do a challenge with the 7 tips. People would easily be able to see results!

  3. Your points about building a platform are well taken Kathleen and good building blocks for any author. I am learning first hand the importance of social media presence and doing the regular interviews.

  4. Oh, I loove that idea! Count me i for the group, Kathleen. Thanks for letting me know about Klout. I started working it. It’s a great tool to increase and measure my influence.

  5. Count me in, as well, Kathleen. As you know, I still have LOTS to do on other fronts, but I do want my book finished by June and your information for the other needs for authors are so helpful (as always)!

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Will be sending the invitations to the group. Or anyone is welcome to go to Facebook and search “Big 7 of Online Marketing” in the FB search box. Then simply request to join. The more the merrier. I envision this being a great group of people who will share ideas that work, and even those that may not seem like they’re working.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Just added you in Joan. For others who want to join, feel free to add yourself in. I am excited about what this group can do to help others.

  6. Michele Lawson says:

    I will admit that I clicked this with hesitation because I’m becoming jaded by all the non-informative information most people put out these days. I am so glad I clicked (and read) this post. Great information and great reminders about what we should be doing. I would love to be included in the 7 tip challenge and a member of the Facebook group.
    Thanks for posting!

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Hi Michele. Thanks for your comments. On the group, you need to either friend me before I can add you or you can go to the group and add yourself. It is open to anyone who is interested.

  7. Thanks Kathleen for your wonderful insights. Your post was filled with valuable information for all of us. As a strong Internet marketer wannabe, you have set the bar high enough to be of great service but not too high so I can visualize taking the leap up and over. I loved watching my Klout score go up as I was “minding my own business” (which I advise each and every business owner to do).

    I am such a visual person so I really liked seeing images in your post, just like on a regular blog post. I tried to do it, answering you on my cell but couldn’t find any download buttons. How did you DO that? Sign me up for your 7 Steps Challenge– it will help me reach my Platinum member goals.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      I love your saying of “Mind Your OWN Business!” When we saw you recently and you mentioned that it was perfect. We all must mind what we are doing in order to make it grow.

      On the button question, I’m not sure.

  8. When I taught creative writing one of the first things we discussed was the business of writing vs the art. It was always an Aha moment for the students. Also, the Power of Persitence. There are a lot of very talented writers who will never be published because they got discouraged by the work involved and walked away.
    Thanks for sharing these. Great guidelines. I’ve added these points to measure in my monthly goals. Visibility!

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Great point about the business of writing vs art. Our writing can be, and hopefully is, art, but event art must be promoted. My sister, http://www.onefineartist.com will be the first to say what she does is art. She will also say, “If I didn’t get out and promote my work, nothing would sell.” It is the same with authors. Well said Aprille. Well said.

  9. John R. Paterson says:

    Kathleen. Thanks for this very clear and timely article. With my first novel at the copy editing stage, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to marketing and you make it very clear just how important self-marketing is. I particularly appreciate you outlining the steps criteria for building a platform. I have a long way to go, but at least I know where to start.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks for your comments John. The best place for any author to begin is right where they are at. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people who have been doing something for a long, long time. Not in our best interest to do that. What is in our best interest is to begin right here, right now, where we are at and build from there.

  10. I’m really struggling with the second bullet … I have no clue where to start getting this info. I know my target audience, but I don’t know where to go from there. I feel like I’m missing a step. Any suggestions?

    donitta

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      There are two suggestions. One, do a google search for Article Directories and your genre, topic or market. Secondly, I highly, highly, highly recommend you order my book Power Up for Profits. I go into more detail in the book. It will be one of the best investments you can make. The paperback version is great for highlighting and earmarking specific areas. Click here to go to Amazon.

  11. Hi, I host a program on UR Business Network called The Writers’ Cafe where I interview authors of non-fiction books. If it has any interest please let me know.
    Paul Jensen

  12. I’d like to offer another perspective. I teach people to write books. My clientele are usually first-time writers with all the hopes and dreams that you would expect. They are all hoping to be the next JK Rowling, who broke into the fantasy middle grade book market.

    There is just getting out there and doing it! You don’t have to be “traditionally” published any more. You can “indie” publish.

    While the process is quite easy to get your book published, you still have to do all the marketing, which means that an author needs to be getting speaking engagements, have a blog that you are promoting and with hopefully a following (without the following you’re talking to yourself), have a Facebook presence and other social media, as well. You need to be building your subscriber list all the time. If you don’t have 25,000 subscribers, which is a lot of subscribers, start wherever you are and begin attracting them by creating a “free” product that would appeal to your audience and get them to flock to your site to get your freebie. Partner with others to get your name out and get more subscribers!

    Having a syndicated column is a very good thing to have, but if you don’t have that…work toward it! First of all, you have to figure out what your “expertise” is! If it’s being an author, then you need to decide what genre for which you are going to write. Then, begin writing blogs and articles that you can send out for syndication, such as EzineArticles. TV and Radio Shows can easily be done on your computer or at your local cable station. You have to start somewhere. Don’t get overwhelmed or lose hope! Each new subscriber and syndication is a step in the right direction. You cannot start blogging for a major blog, if you aren’t even blogging on your own Website! Small steps consistently get you there!

    The truth is that there is no one way to get published and be successful! However, “success” depends entirely on your own efforts. You can hire some help in marketing your book, but the bottom line is that you still have to be involved in that process. Who wants the book to be successful more than you? Who knows more about your book than you? You cannot just spit a book out and say: “Okay, next!” I have done that…but books do not sell themselves! They take some effort!

    I cannot profess that I have all the answers, but I like to give encouragement to people to just get out there and “DO IT!” Because if you wait for all conditions being just right, you might not ever publish your first book!

    I’ve seen students write one chapter and obsess on getting it absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, “perfect” is hard to get and sometimes rather subjective. I try to encourage my students to NOT put obstacles in their way…that way there’s a chance they will finish it. You cannot sell an unfinished product!

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks for your comments Connie. You and I are on the same page. An author has to be willing to start where they are at.

      First, they must be published. Whether that is through a traditional publisher, indie or completely self-published, it’s about getting your works out there.

      That’s the easy part. Next comes the marketing. It’s done a step at a time and an interview at a time.

      Many people say, “I want to be published by a big publisher or I want to be on Oprah.” Rarely does it work that way right out of the gate.

      Truth be told, you have to do what you can to gain visibility in your own backyard.

      And yes, perfectionism will kill most writing projects.

      The moral of the story. Get your work out to market and do all you can to gain visibility for you, your books, and your message.

  13. Kathleen…
    I think the hardest part is knowing you have a book that could help a lot of people and not know how or where to go to get that visibility. Thanks for the steps! I’m still working well under the 25,000 subscriber list, but I’ve not lost hope!!

    I know I’m not in the big leagues yet, but I have a good handle on the “indie” publishing world.

    Blessings and Happy Holidays!
    Connie

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks for your comments Connie. The list of 25,000 is only one agents perspective. Plenty of authors with a list far fewer than that number have done incredibly great with their marketing. The best thing to do is start right where each author is at.

  14. I want to thank you for always paying forward your knowledge, talents, and hard work Kathleen! We need more people willing to participate in building their dreams, which is a thought I shared with my students (http://www.allstaracademyonline.com/Blog-.html). Thank you for being an inspiration! Dr. Trish

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