by Nina Amir
If you want to author an ebook that builds your business and expert status through actual sales of that book, you need to promote that book and yourself long before that ebook ever hits the virtual book shelves. To accomplish this, you need a built in readership for that book. In the publishing world, we call this author platform.
What is Author Platform?
It’s the visibility you have because of who you are and what you do, the connections you have made in your personal and professional life and all the social and traditional media in which you are or ever have been involved. Additionally, it’s the reach you have—how far what you do, say or write travels.
Your platform can be created from just about anything you do, but the more people all over the world who know who you are and what you do, the greater your potential to sell your ebooks.
Creating platform involves gathering a community of people around you that are interested in what you do and what you know. You can build and strengthen your platform in a variety of ways, such as by:
- writing articles
- media appearances
- social networking
- hosting a radio show
- writing a lot of ebooks
In fact, anything you do that gets you, your name and your message in front of many people helps you build platform.
You calculate the size of your platform by the number of people on your email list, the number of fans and followers you have on different social networks, how many media appearances you make, how often you speak and in front of how large an audience, how many books you’ve sold in the past, how many customers or clients you have, etc. Also look at how often what you publish on the internet is liked or shared; that determines your reach.
Why Should Ebook Authors Build Platform?
Ebook authors, just like any other authors, need to build platform for a variety of reasons. Your built in readership, also know as your fans and followers, will:
- help promote your book
- buy your book
- review your book
- become your clients and customers
You need a community to succeed as an author. The larger your community—in other words, the more fans and followers you have—the more books you will sell.
This is why traditional publishers seek writers who have platform. In fact, a traditional publisher or a literary agent looks at an aspiring author’s platform to determine his or her potential to sell books.
Acquisition editors look at a writer’s platform and build the information into a formula to determine if their publishing house should offer a contract on a book and, if so, how large an advance on sales that writer’s platform commands.
An advance on sales is just that—money paid in advance based on projected sales. The larger your platform, the larger the advance you might potentially receive. Why? The greater your visibility and reach, the more people likely to buy your book.
Ask yourself how large an advance on sales your current platform would command. If the number is low, start adding boards, or building blocks, to your platform in the form of different platform building elements. Then keep track of your numbers; what these grow incrementally.
With each platform element you add—speaking, an additional social network, a new blog, a radio show of your own, a free ebook—you gain new fans and followers.
Become a Successful Book Salesperson
Publishers see aspiring authors as business partners. Since they are in the business of selling books, they want to go into business with others who will help accomplish that goal. As an indie publisher, see yourself as a book salesperson. In this case, your ability to sell your product—books—depends upon your platform.
The average successful salesperson visits each prospect 4.4 times, and their closing rates average 17 percent, or approximately one sale out of each six prospects. That means they close one sale for every 26 visits, according to highprobsell.com.
As an author, you are do not make individual sales calls, nor do you make cold calls. You build a rapport with your potential buyers, or readers, and you do this long before your product is ready for sale. That’s why speaking and social media work so well when it comes to platform building; these formats allow actual engagement with your fans and followers.
And they allow you to sell without selling at all. You simply offer great information for free. You do what you do—speak, teach, blog, vlog, podcast, host a radio or TV show, write for magazines, etc. And with each person who decides to connect with you via your social networks, your email list or in some other way, you become more and more visible and your reach extends farther and farther.
Then, when the day arrives and you say, “My book is available for purchase!” you can contact all those people. And all those fans and followers will want to read (buy) it. Hopefully, they will clamor for it and even have preordered it.
As an author, you build platform by simply sharing what you do and what you know from the moment you get the idea for your ebook. Later, when you release your eboook, these efforts turns into sales.
Platform is a Proven Book Promotion Technique
I can assure you this works. Surely you’ve heard of the many authors who have achieved bestseller status on the day of their book’s release because they either:
- Had a huge number of presales
- Had a huge number of people purchase their books on one day
- Had lots of fans eagerly waiting to purchase their book
Although my platform is modest compared to some authors, it is varied. I’m on most social networks, and I speak, teach, have a YouTube station, blog, write for a variety of websites and magazines, and have had a fair amount of radio coverage for my work.
My traditionally published book, How to Blog a Book, has stayed on 1-3 Amazon Top 100 (bestseller) lists—ebook and print book—since its release in May 2012. I attribute this to my platform, which includes a successful blog by the same name. I did not have a special offer to enlist sales on any one day, although I did have some presales.
Look at other authors who have build huge platforms and produced bestsellers. For instance, bestselling author Guy Kawasaki has over four million fans and followers across a variety of social networks. He is the bestselling author of 10 books including Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.
His most recent book is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. He serves his fans and followers well all year by providing great content on all his social networks. Then he uses those very same networks to sell his books when he releases them. And his fans and followers respond, buying his books and helping make them bestsellers.
Platform building starts when you first get the idea for your book—or when you first decide you want to become an author or to write a book to boost your business.
That’s when you begin putting down the first boards and hammering them in so you have a big, tall, strong platform to stand on when your ebook is done.
Take the time now to evaluate your current platform and to begin building a stronger one by nailing down a new “board” every day.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.