© 2010 Marylane Wade Koch
As a kid, I loved to perform. Neighborhood buddies would join me on hot summer evenings for talent shows while the adults sat in lawn chairs and drank iced tea. My act included singing with an old acoustic guitar and semi-choreography with girl friends. To get everyone’s attention we needed a stage—a platform—for our shows. The four-foot high concrete side porch at my house was perfect.
As a writer, I find this same principal applies. In today’s demanding market, writers who want to publish books must build their platforms to get noticed. Editors and agents desire writers who have great ideas, write well, and have access to a following of readers for potential book sales. They want to review the writer’s platform before they offer a publishing contract. Yes, before.
Building a platform comes at the beginning of the book publishing process. Some writers think book publishers provide the market for sales, but the reverse is true: publishers expect authors to provide the market with a strong platform. If the writer plans to self publish, a platform is just as important—or maybe more so—to access readers. A well developed platform can be the passport to book sales in the current competitive environment.
Building a platform takes time, so where do you start?
- Develop a website, maintain a blog, and/or become a guest blogger.
- Teach workshops or classes.
- Offer to speak for local, regional, or national groups. Audiences can include schools, churches, or civic groups. If speaking makes you uncomfortable, research ways to overcome your fears.
- Cultivate media contacts. Get to know your local news reporters.
- Establish an expertise or credentials for name recognition. Become the go-to person in your area of interest.
- Publish articles in magazines, newspapers, and online. Payment is good, but strategic writing for free can help build your platform.
- Secure a radio interview or TV appearance.
- Start an e-zine or newsletter to market to subscribers.
- Network and build relationships. Collect contact information like emails or addresses for follow-up.
Like my old side porch, a writer’s platform must be solid and easily visible to get reader, agent, and/or publisher attention. Take time to build your platform every day in small ways, and soon the structure will support your publishing success.
Links to learning more:
Why All Authors Need a Platform
How to Build a Marketing Platform
Marylane Wade Koch has over 30 years of experience in writing, editing, speaking, coaching, and consulting. Koch has authored numerous articles and several healthcare books. She is a contributor to publishers such as Elsevier-Mosby, Harcourt Health Sciences, Delmar/Thompson-Cengage, F.A.Davis, Jones and Bartlett, and Salem Press. She is a contributor to the Chicken Soup anthology series. Koch serves as President of Byhalia Christian Writers and conference faculty for American Christian Writers. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Mississippi Writers Guild. She serves as adjunct faculty at the University Of Memphis.