I just read a linked-in discussion where someone asked for a clearer definition of “platform” and what should go in your promotion plan. I responded to the discussion and then thought it would make a useful blog post.
Your book promotion plan should:
1. Demonstrate that you know your audience and you know where they hang out online and offline.
2. Provide a detailed plan for how you will reach this audience where they hang out. This includes:
Traditional media: TV, Radio, Newspapers and Magazines (both articles by you and articles that cite or quote you). Your plan should show that you know what media your specific readers buy and read. Publishers also love to see that you plan to hire a publicist–especially if you can quote a significant budget for such ventures.
- Online media: Your website (they’ll want to know how many unique visitors–not hits–you get per month), your blog, online articles, social media, YouTube videos, social networking sites (they’ll want to see you already have a presence), social bookmarking and more
- Public Speaking: Where will you speak? If you list speaking gigs in your plan (which is always a good idea), publishers want to see that you are already speaking to at least some of these targeted companies, associations or conferences.
- Training: Include workshops, seminars, teleseminars, webinars and any teaching you plan to do–on-line or offline.
- Joint Ventures: The way to reach the most people online is by venturing with other people who have large lists. What’s in it for them? Perhaps a percentage of the profits of a teleseminar you’re plugging, or you’ll interview them for your list. Again, if this is part of your plan, you need to show you’re doing this or, at the very least, you plan to hire someone who’s facilitated joint ventures before.
- Your Own Shows: Do you host a TV show, radio show or weekly podcast? This is always a plus to publishers and agents, but they’ll want to know the size of your audience.
When I work with a client on their book proposal, I also tailor my promotion plan suggestions to their particular book and audience. That’s the creative part. We also include any well-connected close friends or colleagues who have offered to help them make connections in the media or online.
Remember, publishers and agents have been burned in the past (years ago) by authors who wrote a great plan but did not follow through. They’re not so naive anymore. They’ll want to see that you already have a platform and that you’ve at least started many of the projects you suggest in your promotion plan.
So, what’s platform? Your platform is the number of people you reach online and in person–through your mailing list, traffic to your website (unique visitors, not hits), your blog, your speaking engagements, TV and radio interviews, podcasts, joint ventures, teleseminars, webinars, magazine articles/interviews, newspaper articles/interviews, online articles, youtube and other video sites, your social media activities and any other way you reach people.
You should indicate your platform in your “about the author” section. Then build on that and add other ideas in the promotion plan.
If the promotion plan is to “pie-in-the-sky” (meaning you haven’t actually done any of these things yet and it’s all a “plan” but not in motion), publishers will consider you too much of a risk. They want to see that you already have a platform.
Worried you don’t have enough of a platform? Work on it. With time, you will.