An author platform — also referred to as a media platform — is an established media outlet that allows the author connects to their audience. Just as a physical platform can be “a stage for public speaking,” a media platform gives the author a pulpit from which to speak to their potential readership. Like a diving platform, it can springboard a book into the marketplace and create sales momentum at publication.
Your platform is essential for the successful promotion of your book whether you are seeking a publisher or you are self-publishing. Creating a platform, developing your audience, and building your fanbase should be as much a part of writing your book as .. well … writing your book! Just ask yourself which comes first, the book or the audience?
What are the Types of Author Platforms?
A Blog – Having a blog is a fantastic way to build your audience; you’re already writing, so use this skill to begin teasing your book’s plot, your characters, and the process of writing.
Having a substantial readership is key for a publisher to take notice and pick it up and, when self-publishing, gives you an opportunity for substantial new release book sales. Molly Wizenberg’s popular food blog, Orangette, was a platform that helped her sell her first book, A Homemade Life, to a publisher because she had a large readership. Before her book sales gained her recognition, best-selling author Amanda Hocking used her blog to connect with paranormal romance readers, which nurtured their interest in her self-published novels.
Author Newsletters – Releasing regularly-scheduled newsletters with loyal subscribers is another way to build your influence. Oft-times combining a blog with a newsletter is a perfect tie-in.
Speaking Engagements – Your speaking engagements are great platforms because the audience is usually there specifically to hear you or to learn about the specific topic. This creates a fantastic sales opportunity. Prior to your book’s release, speaking engagements are a great way to get people to signup for your newsletter or even make pre-order sales.
Radio, Podcasts, vlogs – A popular radio show or podcast can sell a lot of books. Similar to other speaking engagements, you have an audience interested in what you have to say and what you have to promote. As an author, you can use your radio show or podcast to increase your perceived level of authority in your subject through discussions with your audience, interviews with others regarding the topic, and other authors in the same “space.”
Social Media – Having followers numbering in the six- and seven-figures on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to name a few – get publishers’ attention; not to mention gives you a dedicated audience to promote your book to.
Book Publishers and Authors Like Big Platforms
Literary agents, book editors, and publishers look for the size of an author platform when considering a prospective author’s manuscript or proposal.
An author with an established audience assures that the market will pay attention to the book. Booksellers will take notice of the book, the book will likely get media attention (audience feeds more audience), and there are likely fans who will immediately buy the book … all of which drive advanced sales and new release sales.
How big should your author platform be? Whether we’re talking followers or fans or viewers, tens of thousands is okay; hundreds of thousands is better, and a platform that gets millions of eyeballs – a book deal is a slam-dunk.