What is Author Platform?

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Amanda Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary. Follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or on Facebook. Her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

I recently discovered literary agent, Amanda Luedeke, when I was purusing blogs for authors. I am now a fan of her column "Thursdays with Amanda" on Chip MacGregor's blog. I highly recommend her book, The Extroverted Writer. She has kindly agreed to writing this guest post. She will be happy to take your questions. Here is Amanda:

 

In publishing we tend to throw around the word “platform” as though everyone knows what it is and why it’s important. But if you were asked to explain it in ten seconds or less, could you? Do you have it so succinct and clear in your mind that you could define it for your fellow writer?

 

Or is it still a bit fuzzy?

 

I realize that for some industry veterans, this topic may seem a bit fundamental…but I also realize that platform is one of the main things standing in the way between an author and a successful career. So this thing…this term that we throw around is really really important.

 

Which means it’s important that we know exactly what it is and why it’s so special.

 

IMMEDIATE PLATFORM

The best description of platform I ever heard came from my boss, Chip MacGregor. He said that platform is a number. You take all your followers and fans…your Twitter people, your Facebook people, your blog people, and so on, and you add them up. You get a number…this number is your platform.

 

Think of it this way…

If your book were to come out tomorrow, how many people would know about it? If you were to alert all your social media people and all the people that you come in contact with via article writing or guest blogging or interviews or whatever, how many people would be reached? How many people would be aware that your book exists?

 

That number, that sphere of influence, is your immediate platform. It’s the networks and relationships that you have direct access to.

 

EXPANDED PLATFORM

There’s another layer of platform, and this is where it gets a bit more complex.

 

While publishers are interested in your immediate platform, they are also interested in the bigger picture. For the sake of this post, let’s call it your Expanded Platform. An Expanded Platform isn’t just your numbers and your following. It’s your following’s following. It’s the spheres of influence that overlap your own.

Here’s an example…

Let’s say you have a few thousand Twitter followers and a blog following of about 10,000 unique visitors a month. You also speak a few times a year (50 per gathering) and write every month for a publication that reaches 5,000 people. So technically, your platform reaches about 18,200 or so. Not that impressive (for a look at what numbers do impress publishers and agents, check out my book, The Extroverted Writer).

BUT! You’re friends with two really popular bloggers. AND thanks to a few conferences you attended (maybe BlogHer or Catalyst or a TED conference), you have some great professional connections to speakers and podcasters and the like. These are people who you know would want to help you…who would be okay if you asked for a favor or two.

 

So you add those numbers to your own, and voila! It’s starting to look like a real platform.

 

Now, I know this part is tough. It involves putting yourself out there at the risk of seeming self-serving or awkward. But it’s worth it. Because if you can nail some of these down, then publishers will take notice. It’s how your proposal’s Marketing Section will first start to take shape…as you brainstorm your Extended Platform, write down your ideas. Keep track of your strategies. Because not only will publishers want to know about your platform, but they’ll want to know how you’ll leverage it. They’ll want a marketing plan.

 

 

WHY PLATFORM MATTERSExtrovertedWriterCoverSmall

 

Platform lessens risk. And believe me, the publisher is taking a risk each and every time they contract a book! What platform does is it helps them feel better about that risk. It guarantees that your book won’t fall on deaf ears. It ensures that it will have a chance at making it.

 

And the bigger your platform is, the more the publisher will want to support it on their end with marketing dollars and advance dollars and time and energy.

 

So platform is a good thing to have…not just because you need it to get a book deal, but because it can really help your career.

For more platform tidbits and info on how to actually build one, check out my marketing book, The Extroverted Writer.

 

 

 

***WIN A COPY OF THE EXTROVERTED WRITER***

 

 

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The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

The Extroverted Writer

by Amanda Luedeke

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

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8 thoughts on “What is Author Platform?”

  1. Thanks, Amanda, for writing this post for us. This takes much of the mystery out of the term for me. When you add up your numbers, what time frame do you use for your various media: a week, a month, or a year?

  2. I have a 1 group on fb with 76,000 members, 7000 on twitter, about 4600 subscribers on youtube, how do you count that towards writing? Not sure all of them would be active, or buy a book I would write, but it should count for something.

    1. Well clearly you’re an expert on a certain topic, which is why so many people are following you. So if you wanted to do a book on that topic, then these stats would go in your proposal.

  3. Thanks, Saloma, for bringing Amanda to your blog. All writers can benefit from having access to agents via their books and blog posts. Otherwise, the world of publishing often feels “fuzzy” indeed. A field that is changing so rapidly is hard to track — even for savvy experts like Amanda.

    Amanda, I love the title of your book. Counter-conventional ideas cause us to pay attention in a crowded marketplace. Thanks for appearing in Saloma’s blog. After modest success with my first book Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, I am still weighing whether or not to write a sequel. I’ve read the advice to be writing Book #2 to keep feeding your fans, and I have sequel material, but I also want to avoid the pressure of deadlines, having finally arrived at the place where grandchildren and travel have become top priorities. What do you think of the idea of blogging to book? I’m planning to test that idea by starting to research my letters and photos and clippings from my college years. I’m a first-generation Sixties College Student who not only never inhaled but never got close. I don’t think our popular images of the Sixties tell the complete story. Have any advice for me?

  4. This does make me wonder where it leaves the Introverted Writer.Emily Dickenson or Harper Lee would never see the light of day!

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