Thursday, March 13, 2014

Build a Platform for Your Book

Platform One at Minehad Railway Station
Photo by Ross Hawkes, via Flickr.
One thing that agents and acquiring editors often look for is whether the author has a platform. 

Exactly what a platform is can cause people to stutter while trying to explain the term. Some say it means you have a cause. Your book is about curing cancer. Or your protagonist is a recovering alcoholic. Or … you have something to talk about that might get you publicity. Even more so, if you yourself have conquered cancer or been sober for twenty years. 

Some think it means that your book touches on a topic that is hot, like the politics in the Middle East or the two lovers end up together because of their work on global warming. Because those topics are relevant, you could get on talk shows.

Although all of that would most likely be a help in promoting your book and can be part of a platform, it’s not really THE platform.

Your platform is your ability to get publicity and sell your book. You are already a well-known speaker with an active line-up of appearances. You’re an established expert in the field you’re writing about. You’re a celebrity who could get on TV for blowing your nose. Everyone knows your name because you have a radio show or you’re a columnist at a major paper. Or you have contacts. Lots of contacts.

You and I may not have fat black books crammed with networking contacts. But all writers can start trying to build a database of people they could turn to for blurbs, help, recommendations, or promotion. And the time to start is before you publish that book.

Start collecting names and contact information on everyone you meet or know. If it’s a passing acquaintance, record how, when and why you met. If that contact has a contact that might be valuable, note it. If possible, put it in a searchable database. Be diligent.

A platform doesn’t appear overnight. It takes time to build. Get your tools out and start hammering.

Helen Ginger
is an author and blogger. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in Spring 2014.


  1. Hmmm...this sounds like work, Helen. It also requires a greater degree of organization and preparedness than most of us average folks possess.

    On the other hand, you're exactly right! It's time to officially enter the game. The competition out there in the global bookstore is fierce, and the battle isn't for the faint of heart — or those who come to the war without appropriate weapons. This excellent post makes one wonder how many great tales are lost beneath the millions of available books because their authors didn't arm themselves with a platform from which to launch that fantastic book into the hands of potential readers.

    1. It can be a lot of work, but it can also be gathered over time. Don't wait until the book is published.

    2. Linda, I have a great platform. It took a few years and it requires daily engagement, but I'm ready to promote a book. It's a bit like body building. You don't get in shape overnight, but you have power when you are.

  2. Networking is my weak area and personal appearances just aren't possible. My platform really consists of social media, my blog, this blog, my critique group, and the local conference I attend, though I may not go this year. Last year I got beaned in the head with flying candy and it put me in bed for two days - don't ask. :)

    1. Ooh, so sorry about getting beaned in the head! That must have hurt! When you're at the conference, try to meet lots of people. Have business cards with you to hand out and get their cards as well. Then occasionally send them an email. You could consider doing a monthly newsletter to send to friends. Nothing long, just something informative.

  3. Thanks for explaining in such a concise way what platform is all about. I've been on sites and blogs about marketing and all the business terms make my head swim. Your simple, "platform is your ability to get publicity" made sense to me. And your tip to plan way ahead is such a good one. I think Kathryn Craft has mastered that with her lead up to the release of he book.

    1. I agree that Kathryn's teasers, especially here for over a year, were enjoyable! Maybe more for us than for K.

  4. Haha okay coming out of the woodwork for this one. Hi BRP pals! Helen this is so true. In the same breath authors will use to say it takes so long to publish, they'll say "If only I'd had more time I would have..." Your advice to "think ahead" is so wise! And who knows—that platform might be the very thing that tips the scales in your favor.

  5. Interesting this has come up as I've been thinking and working on mine. It is an ongoing process to put a strong platform together.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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