Secret 1: Platform Before Book…Way BeforeStart building your platform long before you publish your book. There are Four Seasons of Platform Development to use as guidelines:
- Season One: Till. Start off by preparing the soil. Make sure you have all the tools you need.
- Season Two: Plant. Start seeding the world with content and messages from your blog, social networks, etc.
- Season Three: Feed. Just like with a crop, you’ve got to weed and feed your platform. You’ll create incentives and find allies.
- Season Four: Harvest. Your book’s almost our, and it’s all about promotions, coordination, pre-orders and media opportunities.
- Consistency. With consistency comes familiarity and comfort. Start thinking of your platform as an advertising campaign that promotes you and your book. Your messaging, key ideas, and brand identity should remain the same over time. For example, if you’ve written a historical romance novel, your Twitter feed might focus exclusively on little-known facts about romance, courtship and sex from the period you’re writing about.
- Constancy. You build a platform like you build muscles: repeating the same activities over time. Once you have your strategy in place, put your head down and work the plan. Email, tweet, blog, speak, do interviews, repeat. Results won’t come right away, but don’t worry about that. Just keep going. Doing the right things again and again yields results.
- Coordination. Your goal is to make your book inevitable—to make book buyers see it everywhere they look so that they think, “Man, that book is everywhere! I’ve got to read it.” To make that happen, coordinate your marketing activities. Schedule things like radio interviews, book signings, posters in the windows of local bookstores and email blasts so that they happen around the same time. It’s especially critical during the first 30 days after your book comes out.
- Connection. Know what your readers care about and connect with them about those subjects. If you’ve published a children’s book and you find that your audience really cares about bullying in school, have a substantial percentage of your tweets, updates and blog posts focus on that topic. Remember, sincerity, authenticity and genuine caring are the best way to sell.
|Time frame||Results you should see||
Mistakes you could be making
|Publishing||3 months||Double figure blog or podcast subscribers; interest in publishing your work||Not blogging or podcasting of ten enough; submitting articles to publications they’re not a fit for|
|Internet||3 months||Increased site traffic; steady email list signups||Ugly, unprofessional or hard-to-use website; weak email incentives|
|Social||5-6 months||Steady growth in followers, fans, likes, shares and retweets||Not posting of ten enough; being too pushy in your marketing/selling efforts|
|Relationships||3-4 months||Meetings with “influentials” about endorsements, marketing partnerships; requests for sample chapters||Reaching out to the wrong people; coming across as a desperate wannabe; not having a specific “ask”|
|Appearances||6 months||Bookings, even for little or no pay||Not having a press kit; not having a good “elevator pitch”; coming across as unprofessional|
|Media||6-8 months||Bookings; returned calls from producers or program directors||Not having a press kit; not having a good “elevator pitch”; coming across as unprofessional|
Of course, the most important thing you can do is to start, even if you start slowly. Writing a book means you have a wealth of what’s called actionable intellectual property, or actionable IP. Actionable IP is any original content—characters, story lines, self-help processes, labels like “The Tipping Point”—that’s interesting and that people might want to read about or hear about. Even if your book’s not done, you’ve created some actionable IP, even if it’s just your rich, memorable private detective character. That’s where your marketing begins.
You know who cares about your platform? Book buyers. Having presented hundreds of titles to buyers at Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Costco (to name just a few), Naren can tell you that in today’s marketplace book buyers, particularly at national chains, are more interested in statistics than your average baseball fan (and that’s saying something). How many Twitter followers do you have? How about Instagram? How many Facebook fans? What about media hits, events, book tours, and blogging traction? Interestingly enough, buyers want to know every detail about an author’s platform, but rarely do they ask about the book’s content itself these days.
Think about that for a second. That’s how important platform is.
*Stay tuned for Secret #2*