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I just read a linked-in discussion where someone asked for a clearer definition of “platform” and what should go in your book promotion plan (in your book proposal). I responded to the discussion and then thought it would make a useful blog post.
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, based on the foundation or platform you have already developed. This includes:
Publishers and agents will also look at your website. Be sure to include a media page or press room; speaking gigs, training and events; and other pages that highlight your platform. If you have a blog or podcast, they will also look to see how engaged your audience is. This posts tells you exactly what you need on an author website.
When I work with a client on their book proposal, I also tailor my book 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 an author 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 book 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.