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CREATING A KILLER AUTHOR MARKETING PLATFORM- SECRET 1:PLATFORM BEFORE BOOK…WAY BEFORE

For first-time authors, the world of publishing can be an overwhelming abyss of unknowns, especially when it comes marketing yourself and your new release.  It takes a lot more than good content to make a book succeed. Mascot Books’ CEO, Naren Aryal, along with professional writer, Tim Vandehey, have compiled their own best practices when it comes to author branding and platform development. We will share them with you in this blog series designed to help both first-time and experienced authors effectively tackle book marketing.

The Secrets are guidelines for helping you master both the art and science of book marketing. Rather than tell you what to do, they’re about how to approach your author platform—mistakes to avoid, ways to channel your limited resources and so on. Use them as a sort of operating system for your marketing—always running under the surface, invisible but shaping everything you do.

Secret 1: Platform Before Book…Way Before

Start building your platform long before you publish your book.
There are Four Seasons of Platform Development to use as guidelines:

  • Season OneTill. Start off by preparing the soil. Make sure you have all the tools you need.
  • Season TwoPlant. 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 FourHarvest. Your book’s almost our, and it’s all about promotions, coordination, pre-orders and media opportunities.

Setting up your platform is not the same as building your platform. Building a platform takes time and energy. You will not gain a sizable following over night. Keep that in mind as you venture into The Four C’s of platform development.

The Four C’s of platform development are guidelines to help you support your newly created platform and generate a following.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4.  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.

Building a platform is about gaining traction, volume, and developing your skills as a marketer. It takes time. How much time? Other than to say earlier the better, there’s no golden rule. Naren and Tim put together a general guideline that will help steer you in the right direction.

 

 

Component

 

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*

How to Sell Books

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