When Should You Build Your Author Platform?

One of my consulting clients asked me if it were better to build your platform before you write your book or after.

This reminds me of the old saw: When is the best time to plant a tree?
Answer: 20 years ago.
When is the second best time to plant a tree?
Answer: Today

To be successful, you must have a platform. In fact, the bigger the platform, the greater the success.

In fact, my publisher, John Wiley rejected a fantastic book proposal I had on negotiations. Why? They felt I was an expert on Internet marketing and not on negotiating. If I wanted to write another book on Internet marketing, they were all ears because I have a platform on that topic. But not so for the negotiating topic. C’est la vie.

If you don’t have a big platform, that doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you should start building your platform as you research and write your book.

If you have a big platform, you should continue to build it. No one has a platform that is big enough. No one. Never stop finding ways to build your platform with people who get what you are about.

Mind you, I’m NOT endorsing any “rapid” Twitter building program. It galls me to think that you can pay $75 and get 1,000 followers in minutes. Do you really think any of those people are going to read one word of what you write? If so, let me refer you to this gentleman who has a bridge for sale. That’s a joke. Don’t send the FTC after me. I don’t have any affiliate programs that involve bridges.

One final thought. Dan Kennedy has a unique perspective on this. He says you should find an avalanche of traffic and stand in front of it with a product they need. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Dan Janal helps small businesses get publicity so they can sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, consulting, done-for-you services and do-it-yourself tools. For info, go to www.prleadsplus.com or call me at 952-380-1554.

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  1. says

    I have been reading a bit about author platforms but I am a little confused. Some articles seem to consider the website the platform, while in others it seems that everything the author does to promote themselves is their ‘platform’. I am going to sign up for the newsletter and the audio program because I would like to know more about what EXACTLY an effective author platform should consist of.
    Justin recently posted..President Obama’s Jobs Plan Aims to Put More Teachers Back to WorkMy Profile

  2. says

    Justin, I think what has you confused is different usage of the word “platform.” When we talk about an author platform, we are referring to the author’s presence. That includes a website, but also includes publicity, speaking, writing, having relationships with an email list and social media and more.

    When someone talks about a website platform, they generally mean the program or system used to create a site. For example, WordPress is a platform on which someone may build a blog/website.

    When it comes to building an author platform, a website is an important part, but it is only one part.

  3. says

    Dan – Thanks for bringing a lot of sense to this topic.

    In addition to being an author, I used to run a small PR firm where I worked with writers and other creative professionals. Both then and now I see too many authors focusing on quick-results marketing and PR. They wait until the book is published to build an audience (or in traditional publishing they wait until they’re ready to pitch it to publishers). That’s too late. Of course there’s no time quite like the present if you have a book out and you’ve failed to build the platform previously.

    Justin — Here’s an easy way to think of a writer platform. It’s just your pre-existing audience. It’s the people who will be ready and willing to buy your book as soon as it comes out because they already know you and have an interest in what you have to say. You can reach that audience through any number of means — a website is an important one these days.

    I wrote the following article for freelancers (as my own book coming out next year is on the very topic of platform-building for that niche audience). However the 30 ideas there are equally applicable to author platforms. I’m a fairly new visitor here, so please forgive me if you don’t allow comment links, and feel free to remove it.

    Jenn Mattern recently posted..Manuscripts: What to do When Your Backups FailMy Profile