Effective Author Platform Requirements
Guest Post by Irene Watson
Authors need an author platform to show they are qualified and media-trained, and consequently, deserve the media’s attention because they’ve already had it. Reporters and journalists want experts on topics, and publishers want to know an author is prepared to promote a book, so having an author platform prepared can give an author the edge, allowing him or her to be recognized as an expert or credible source.
Every author needs an author platform to stand upon if he or she is going to get media attention. No, an author platform is not a box to stand on, but it will help an author to rise above his peers and separate the experts and credible authors from the amateurs. An author platform is more like an enhanced resume that provides your credentials and helps publishers and the media take notice that you are a professional, you have experience, you are good at promoting yourself and promoting your book and topic of interest without being self-serving, and overall, you know what you are doing.
The benefits of having an author platform are many. It will help you to get noticed and to appear as an expert to publishers, the media, and readers. Think of the author platform as your credentials. It should be an ever-evolving document or list of your accomplishments, marketing successes, and strategies for continuing to promote yourself and your work.
Following is a list of the qualifiers (proof you are a notch above others) that you should include in your platform. Remember, you should have the vast majority of these in your platform. It’s not sufficient just to have a website, although that’s a starting point:
· Website: Your website should include at least the following pages: Home, About the Author, Buy the Book, Your Blog, and a Media Kit page. Anything additional such as interviews, FAQs, or simply fun pages with games or quizzes, or additional stories or information about the book is a plus.
· Prior Publishing Experiences: Not just a list of books you’ve published, but your success stories—sales numbers, awards won, numbers of printings or editions, etc.
· Speaking Engagements: A good thing to do is keep a journal or log of every event you do, from speaking to the local rotary club to presenting at a national conference on your book’s subject. Publishers and the media want people who are not afraid of public speaking.
· Workshops: Have you facilitated or participated in any workshops relevant to your book or topic?
· Attendance at High Profile Conferences, Events, Workshops: Even if you were not a leader at an event, showing you attended is proof you are serious about staying current on your field of study and changes in the media and publishing worlds.
· Your Online Presence: How do you reach out to readers online? Your author platform includes your blog, newsletter, email lists, social networking, podcasts, videos, and online publications such as articles and book reviews.
· Readings and Book Signings: How frequently do you engage the public face-to-face in promoting your work? Where have you had book signings, readings, or participated in group author events?
· Online Forum: Do you have a way to engage your readers online? It could be a Facebook page for your book, a discussion group on your website, or a listserv group on your topic.
· Coaching/Consulting: Have you been a coach or consultant in your field of expertise on an individual level or for any organizations in need?
· Memberships: What professional organizations do you belong to relative to your topic and to publishing? How involved have you been with these organizations, helping to coordinate an event or serving on the organization’s board?
· Media Press Kit: Your press kit should be available for download from your website for the media’s perusal as well as be in a format you can mail. A press kit should include a press release for your book, a sales sheet, your book cover/image, an about the author page, testimonials or reviews of your book, and a copy of your book or a sample chapter at least, depending on whether it’s on your website or you are mailing a copy.
· Traditional Media Appearances: Any television or radio appearances you’ve made, as well as being interviewed or featured in magazines and newspapers.
· Internet Media Appearances: Have you been a guest on someone else’s blog? Have you been interviewed on Blog Talk Radio or other Internet radio podcast shows?
· Publications: Beyond books, have you published articles or stories in magazines, newspapers, or anthologies?
· Proven Contacts: Who is paying attention to you as an author? How many followers do you have on social media sites? Who is commenting on your blog? What is your website traffic? How many people are on your email list? Who is “Liking” your pages, and how many reviews are you getting posted by readers at online bookstores?
· Target Audience: Who is your target audience? What connections do you have with them, what kind of proven track record do you have, and what plans do you have for future interactions?
It may seem like having an author platform is a lot of work, but if you simply keep track of everything you do and you are actively promoting your book, it will be more like keeping a diary of your experiences. Of course, you have to build the website, go to the conferences, participate in events, but it is all fun and worthwhile if you are passionate about your book, and your passion will set you apart from other authors.
Today, an author platform is less about proving to a publisher that your book deserves publication and you will help market it. While you can still use it to find a publisher, it’s more about getting media attention, whether you are a self-published or traditionally published author. Your platform can be what convinces the media to interview or feature you, which in turn will make readers take notice and buy your books.
Here are some of the benefits to be derived from having a prepared author platform:
· Proves an author’s visibility and credibility as a professional author.
· Provides recognition and expertise that will make the media take notice and give you future publicity.
· Reflects that an author is authentic and not simply self-serving—all your activities have not been solely hard-selling of your books, but also participating in information-sharing and in helping others, such as participants at events and conferences.
· Allows the media and others to make a quick decision about your expertise when they need an expert for a story, a guest for a radio show, or a speaker at a conference.
Think of your author platform as your enhanced resume and your credentials. Constantly working to improve your author platform and to have it ready when it is needed will increase your chances of getting attention, becoming known by the media, and ultimately, selling more books.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.