What Is an Author’s Platform?

Writers' Workshop

When an agent or publisher asks about your platform, what they’re really asking is: If you were to publish a book, who cares?

“Building a platform” is code for increasing the number of people who care what you’re doing.

For most authors, a “platform” includes a healthy dose of social media, a website, a mailing list, etc. But that’s not universally true. For instance, the CEO of a large company may not have any social media at all, but if her job makes people know and be interested in her, that’s a platform.

The key to successfully building a platform is to find a way to engage with more people in a way that you can tolerate, and that your new audience enjoys.

That includes publishing essays, articles, poems, or short stories in magazines, journals, anthologies, or the local paper. That includes speaking to groups, or even joining (or starting!) a new club.  There are a myriad of ways to connect with people—your personality will determine which ways you’re best suited for.

And for those of us that weren’t born with a silver spoon or a famous last name, and who aren’t the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, things like social media present an unparalleled opportunity to leverage our voice and gain a following.

There is never a bad time to build your platform. And you need it regardless of how you decide to publish or distribute your work.

If you’re traditionally publishing through a big or small publisher, they’ll want to see that you know how to connect with people. They’ll want to see that when your book comes out, there’s a big group of people that might make some noise about it.

If you self-publish, you’ll need the same group of people to make noise about your book. You’re the publisher, so you need the same thing out of yourself that any other publisher would need.

Or if you launch a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel—you need a platform.

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how you’re distributing it, if you want to write on a professional basis, you need an author’s platform.

Not all platforms are equal. Just because one author has 10,000 followers on Twitter, for instance, doesn’t mean anyone will care when he has exciting news to share.  How he has built and cultivated that audience will make a big difference.  It’s entirely possible that another author with only 200 followers, half of whom love him to pieces and are super excited for him, can make far more noise.

Author Bootcamp, a 4-week professional development course for authors, will teach you how to build an author’s platform that really works. Numbers are important, but quality is more important.  We’ll teach you how to build and cultivate an audience that really cares what you’re doing and is ready to make noise for you.

Whether you’re starting from zero, or you’ve already built some platform, we’ll give you practical, common sense strategies for productive growth.

We’ll also cover some of the nuances of the business of publishing, so that you can be prepared to make smart business decisions as an author.  We’ll discuss the opportunities in each sector of publishing—traditional (Big Five), Small Press, and Self-Publishing—and how to identify and land good deals in each space.

We’ll also teach you some common sense techniques and strategies for building and protecting your business and your work.

It would be amazing to live in a world in which the quality of an author’s work was the only factor in their success. But in the real world, it takes a lot more than a way with words.

Authors who are successful are indeed talented wordsmiths— and they’ve learned how to work the business side of publishing as well.

You’ve got the words. Author Bootcamp will help you fill the rest of the professional author’s toolbox. Learn more and register to take this class (live or online) at bootcamp.ohiowriters.org.

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