Why Every Ebook Author Needs a Platform

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If you want to author an ebook that builds your business and expert status through actual sales of that book, you need to promote that book and yourself long before that ebook ever hits the virtual book shelves. To accomplish this, you need a built in readership for that book. In the publishing world, we call this author platform.

What is Author Platform?

platform-dreamstimeAn ebook author platform can be defined as how many people know and associate you and your name with something of value to them.

It’s the visibility you have because of who you are and what you do, the connections you have made in your personal and professional life and all the social and traditional media in which you are or ever have been involved. Additionally, it’s the reach you have—how far what you do, say or write travels.

Your platform can be created from just about anything you do, but the more people all over the world who know who you are and what you do, the greater your potential to sell your ebooks.

Creating platform involves gathering a community of people around you that are interested in what you do and what you know. You can build and strengthen your platform in a variety of ways, such as by:

  • Speaking
  • teaching
  • writing articles
  • media appearances
  • blogging
  • social networking
  • podcasting
  • vlogging
  • hosting a radio show
  • writing a lot of ebooks

In fact, anything you do that gets you, your name and your message in front of many people helps you build platform.

You calculate the size of your platform by the number of people on your email list, the number of fans and followers you have on different social networks, how many media appearances you make, how often you speak and in front of how large an audience, how many books you’ve sold in the past, how many customers or clients you have, etc. Also look at how often what you publish on the internet is liked or shared; that determines your reach.

Why Should Ebook Authors Build Platform?

Ebook authors, just like any other authors, need to build platform for a variety of reasons. Your built in readership, also know as your fans and followers, will:

  • help promote your book
  • buy your book
  • review your book
  • become your clients and customers

[pullquote position=”right”]You need a community to succeed as an author.[/pullquote] The larger your community—in other words, the more fans and followers you have—the more books you will sell.

This is why traditional publishers seek writers who have platform. In fact, a traditional publisher or a literary agent looks at an aspiring author’s platform to determine his or her potential to sell books.

Acquisition editors look at a writer’s platform and build the information into a formula to determine if their publishing house should offer a contract on a book and, if so, how large an advance on sales that writer’s platform commands.

An advance on sales is just that—money paid in advance based on projected sales. The larger your platform, the larger the advance you might potentially receive.  Why? The greater your visibility and reach, the more people likely to buy your book.

wooden platform blocks xe-pOr-ex freedigitalIf you are planning on self-publishing your ebook, you need to look at yourself in the same way an agent or acquisitions editor would look at you—critically.

Ask yourself how large an advance on sales your current platform would command. If the number is low, start adding boards, or building blocks, to your platform in the form of different platform building elements. Then keep track of your numbers; what these grow incrementally.

With each platform element you add—speaking, an additional social network, a new blog, a radio show of your own, a free ebook—you gain new fans and followers.

Become a Successful Book Salesperson

Publishers see aspiring authors as business partners. Since they are in the business of selling books, they want to go into business with others who will help accomplish that goal. As an indie publisher, see yourself as a book salesperson. In this case, your ability to sell your product—books—depends upon your platform.

The average successful salesperson visits each prospect 4.4 times, and their closing rates average 17 percent, or approximately one sale out of each six prospects. That means they close one sale for every 26 visits, according to highprobsell.com.

As an author, you are do not make individual sales calls, nor do you make cold calls. You build a rapport with your potential buyers, or readers, and you do this long before your product is ready for sale. That’s why speaking and social media work so well when it comes to platform building; these formats allow actual engagement with your fans and followers.

And they allow you to sell without selling at all. You simply offer great information for free. You do what you do—speak, teach, blog, vlog, podcast, host a radio or TV show, write for magazines, etc. And with each person who decides to connect with you via your social networks, your email list or in some other way, you become more and more visible and your reach extends farther and farther.

laptop ebook sales Stuart Miles freedigitalThen, when the day arrives and you say, “My book is available for purchase!” you can contact all those people. And all those fans and followers will want to read (buy) it. Hopefully, they will clamor for it and even have preordered it.

As an author, you build platform by simply sharing what you do and what you know from the moment you get the idea for your ebook. Later, when you release your eboook, these efforts turns into sales.

Platform is a Proven Book Promotion Technique

I can assure you this works. Surely you’ve heard of the many authors who have achieved bestseller status on the day of their book’s release because they either:

  • Had a huge number of presales
  • Had a huge number of people purchase their books on one day
  • Had lots of fans eagerly waiting to purchase their book

Although my platform is modest compared to some authors, it is varied. I’m on most social networks, and I speak, teach, have a YouTube station, blog, write for a variety of websites and magazines, and have had a fair amount of radio coverage for my work.

My traditionally published book, How to Blog a Book, has stayed on 1-3 Amazon Top 100 (bestseller) lists—ebook and print book—since its release in May 2012. I attribute this to my platform, which includes a successful blog by the same name. I did not have a special offer to enlist sales on any one day, although I did have some presales.

I just re-released a small ebook, The Summer Dance Intensive Guide, and that same night it hit the Amazon Top 100 in its category.  I have a great community (platform) I’ve built on a related blog.

Look at other authors who have build huge platforms and produced bestsellers. For instance, bestselling author Guy Kawasaki has over four million fans and followers across a variety of social networks.  He is the bestselling author of 10 books including Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.

His most recent book is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. He serves his fans and followers well all year by providing great content on all his social networks. Then he uses those very same networks to sell his books when he releases them. And his fans and followers respond, buying his books and helping make them bestsellers.

lumber  Michael Gray  dreamstime_xs_15080837Don’t wait until your ebook is almost done or has been released to consider creating a fan base for yourself and your work.

Platform building starts when you first get the idea for your book—or when you first decide you want to become an author or to write a book to boost your business.

That’s when you begin putting down the first boards and hammering them in so you have a big, tall, strong platform to stand on when your ebook is done.

Take the time now to evaluate your current platform and to begin building a stronger one by nailing down a new “board” every day.

Nina Amir
Inspiration-to-Creation Coach and author of "How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time," inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose.
Nina Amir
Nina Amir

Comments

  1. Thanks Nina, this is all very interesting information but it seems to me that this article is geared towards nonfiction, “how-to” book authors. They are experts in their fields with a lot of valuable technical information to share, be it about installing windows or selling e-books. What about those of us e-book writers who write fantasy, romance or modern literary fiction? We can hardly set up a platform based on the kind of expertise that you’re referring to here. All we have is ourselves and our books, and most of us have no useful knowledge other than how to write fiction. Many of us are new even to this. What do we speak/blog/teach about in order to build a fan base, especially if we haven’t even released a book yet? Any guidance would be appreciated.

  2. JOHN CHAPARRO says

    I read your article and I’m glad I did.I published a book some months ago and sales don’t look good at all.I’m waiting for the quarter report from the publisher but I don’t expect too much. Nor I am doing much in term of promotion. The book is well writen,and have some potential of selling well but promotion is lacking,,yet after reading your article I’ve dicided to work on promoting the book.

  3. Nina’s right on the money here, especially when she talks about building a fanbase before you publish. This is something most authors don’t really think about. Start sharing stories, snippets, cool facts, whatever it takes to build a relationship with potential readers now. They’ll be there for you when your book is finally published!

    Jon Bard, Managing Editor, Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers

  4. First of all, I love how you blogged a book about blogging books. Very meta.

    This article was helpful for me because I’m currently trying to market two ebooks that I’ve written. My Facebook eBook has been around for about a year and is doing pretty well, but I’m only just launching my Blogging eBook now and I want to get it right. I know that the community aspect is important, but the thing I’m struggling with most now is finding the time to build relationships with bloggers who could read and review my eBook on their own websites. Do I just email them the eBook (with a friendly email explaining that I’m launching my eBook and I’d appreciate their feedback) and hope they review? Do I offer some sort of incentive (which seems unethical)? Thanks!

    • Diana,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s helpful to create relationships with bloggers first by commenting on their blogs, asking them to guest post for you, sharing their posts, connecting with them on social networks, etc. Then they are more likely to review your book. If you haven’t done that previously, your only choice is to write then a nice email telling them how much you admire them and that you’d love it if they would take a peek at your new ebook–and if they feel inclined possibly send a testimonial or write a review. You might ask to guest blog for them. They might be more likely to have you do that then to actually review your ebook.