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How to Evaluate an Author Platform Opportunity

Ask me your book writing and publishing questions as a comment in this post.
Ask me your book writing and publishing questions as a comment in this post.

I recently spoke with a client who is working hard on growing her following so that she can increase the chances of selling her memoir to a publishing house. I had suggested she contact another client of mine for ideas in her field–the person who had initially put her in touch with me.

This mutual friend offered a suggestion for radio publicity, but it meant my client needed to present herself as a psychic, not exactly the way she presented herself to the world–and not how she wanted people to see her. In fact, she’d pledged never to present herself this way, despite her “psychic” gifts.

Her husband urged her to reconsider and she e-mailed me for my opinion.

Christina Katz talks about an authors identity, rather than brand.
Christina Katz talks about an author's identity, rather than "brand."

First, I congratulated her for thoughtfully considering the opportunity. On the one hand, any opportunity to get known is a good thing. On the other hand, if she’s branding herself, or as Christina Katz puts it, creating her public identity, she needs to think about how she wants people to view her. Does the label of psychic take away from her vision of her image or can it add to it? How will this label affect how her audience views her and who her audience is?

It’s not a test with a right and wrong answer. She needed to look within.

I came up with a list of questions for her to journal about.

  • What is my long term vision for my work?
  • What is the easiest and optimal path for me to reach that goal?
  • What would be an optimal way to create immediate income with ease, and that is resonant with who I am on the deepest level?
  • Is it important that I develop a following or platform prior to submitting my book proposal?
  • If so, what would be an optimal way to develop my platform and following with ease and speed?
  • Would it be optimal (or in the highest good) for me to appear on xxxx?
  • Would it be optimal (or in the highest good) for me to do psychic work in the media right now to develop my platform? If yes, in what way? What would it look like?

As she answered the questions, it became clear to her that this wasn’t the right opportunity for her. Perhaps, though, taking the time to consider it helped her be open to a more fitting option. Within a day, a new opportunity emerged that fit her identity and vision spot on.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Stephen Monrad says

    I’ve recently made a big change in my plans with the sole goal of building my platform.

    Instead of writing and selling the book I want to write, I am going to focus on a smaller part of my topic that is more easily marketed. I am also going to focus on public speaking first rather than writing.

    I am doing this for two reasons. First of all, I think I can use whatever publicity I generate on this path for the book I want to write. Second, I am going to learn skills along the way that will make it easier for me to write and promote my book.

    The trade-off for me was time for success. If I shot straight for my goal in one jump, I don’t think I would make it. By building slowly, I believe my chances will be much better.

    It’s the right decision, but being patient is tough.

  2. Daree Allen says

    I’m writing a self-help book for teen girls. I am excited about building my platform, because it’s an opportunity to grow and interact more with the very people who I want to help. The only thing is, people who speak often have something to sell in the back of the room after their event, but I’m just starting out, and my book is not finished yet so I have no tangible “takeaways” to offer. Nevertheless, I need to keep speaking, blogging, and doing appearances so I have more to add to my book proposal.

    I will get my hands on Katz’ book soon.

  3. lisatener says

    Hi Daree. Have you thought about creating an audio? That can be much quicker than a book and can be something people can take away from a presentation or event. If you’re a natural public speaker anyway, an audio can be fairly easy to create valuable content. My friend, Donna Mac, helped me create my audio Writing in the Zone and I know several people who have great CD’s created by Donna (Tara Roth created one on accessing your intuition and Pat Hastings has one on answered prayer). Try her at http://www.dmacvoice.com

  4. dmpetrella says

    Thanks, Lisa, for your blog! I find the postings very helpful.

    I recently was given the opportunity to write a monthly blog/newsletter article for a health/weight loss website. They have over one million subscribers and I’m thrilled to be connecting with this audience through my writing. I’m collaborating with a nutritionist on a book idea we developed. She writes for this site and has an established following. I know it will take me some time and I want to develop my platform in an easy, flowing way. I don’t want to put effort, at this point, into other forms of publicity as writing is easy for me. Will an internet based platform like this be sufficient to bolster a book proposal?
    Thanks for your feedback!

    • lisatener says

      Congratulations, Diane. That sounds like a powerful venue.

      An internet based platform is sufficient if the reach is sufficient (i.e. you develop a loyal fan base that you can demonstrate reads your communications regularly or buys from you (such as a membership list), for instance. Of course, if you have other venues like speaking engagements, internet video, social media, print media, radio, etc. these will complement what you’re doing. So, if you can add a little to the mix, but if that feels like too much, see what you can do by focusing on this one arena. At least use social marketing (facebook, twitter, linked in) to spread the word about your articles (tweet and post about it with a link when you post a new article).

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