One reason platform-building is a such a problem for some authors is the feeling they must place everything important in their book, leaving little or nothing left to say for platform purposes.
This puts an author in an awkward position where they either deviate from their core book-message for their platform (social media and other efforts) or they treat their platform only as a “teaser” or commercial for a book.
Neither path is an effective way to create a loyal reader following, where connections look to you for a certain type of writing. One extreme will confuse your followers with material you are not known for, and the other will drive them away as they feel you only need them for marketing.
Like it or not, an effective author platform provides both good additional content and an appropriate way to point followers to your book.
Press pause on this post for a minute…
As an agent, I am far more interested in working with authors who have multiple books over many years rather than someone who wrote their one and only book and desires to find a publisher. My opinions take more of a 5 to10-year perspective on developing the career of an author rather than to “just get my book published.” This is why I want to know if an author has a broader perspective to writing as a career, or whether it begins and ends with one book.
Back to our point today.
It is very important for authors to be self-aware of the core message which permeates everything they do. In the Christian publishing world, because an author might be writing about huge, eternal, infinite things, they actually might become quite unfocused in their work if not aware how God directs them as believers, giving them a unique message, often based on their personal faith-life and spiritual giftedness.
Arriving at a successful core “message platform” is of paramount importance before you go too far. An effective author platform is always a mix of consistency and creativity. It is not simply collecting names, so you can advertise your book.
If your book is about developing a deeper walk with God, then maybe the content for platform building is a regular weekly devotional tracking along with your own walk.
If your book contains practical advice for an aspect of living, then for sure, you can apply certain practical principles to a wide variety of additional situations.
If your book is a Bible study on a certain section of Scripture, then use the same study approach to unpack another section.
Even novelists have certain recurring themes permeating their stories. Write about those themes, applied to real-life situations.
If you are an author desirous of successfully publishing multiple books over a period of time, logic would lead one to believe you have multiple concepts to draw on.
Everything you know should not be in your book. Save some for your second, or third book…and your platform.
A significant difference between an author who self-publishes and one working with an agent in the traditional market is the agented/traditional approach will require the author be more focused or “branded” as an author, sticking to the core message, something creativity often fights.
Being known for something is an effective way to increase sales for any kind of author, whether self-published or traditional, rather than simply writing whatever comes to mind.
Public speaking is a key part of the author’s platform-building. The most effective author-speakers stick to their core message, but bring new examples, new applications, additional insights and stories, along with some material from their book. Then, when it is time to mention their book for sale at the back table, potential buyers know it will add to, organize and remind them of what they heard from the author in person. When you speak, don’t put everything from your book into the public presentation.
Effective platforms complement and augment the messages found in an author’s book and visa versa.