Yes, You Need a Platform

platformCongratulations, you’ve written a book! You’re done, right? You’ve typed and edited and revised and uploaded to your printer, and now the book is ready for people to beat a path to your door, right? Oops. If you’re like me, you soon discover that you are missing something critical: You don’t have a platform. Somewhere early in the process of creating The Peacocks of Palos Verdes, I should have been developing connections, forming a network, establishing myself as an expert in the field, and connecting with potential readers

The only exposure I’d had was a “My Turn” essay in the Daily Breeze about the peacock adventures I shared with my youngest grandson. At that time, I wasn’t an expert on peafowl—no one knew my name. I wrote my peacock book because there wasn’t even one book written about our local birds. I hadn’t been giving the immediate world advance notice of what I was writing, because I thought someone might steal my idea and publish a peacock book before I did.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Mine was the first peacock book in Palos Verdes, and I wanted to get it into the hands of peacock lovers everywhere. I had no time to put together a platform; I had to create one on the fly. But It was easier than I thought it would be, and you can do it too.

The first step is identifying your audience. Face it, no matter how compelling your book is, it’s not for everyone. I know that you want it to be, but trust me–it’s not. You have to identify who your ideal readers are and zero in on them. You can’t build a platform unless you know who you’re addressing. A notable exception to this rule is when you write for children; then you pitch to the moms and grandmas, because they’re the ones who buy the kids’ books.

Here are some basic ways to build your platform:

Website and Blog: Buy the domain names specific to you. I used and also reserved for future use. Those addresses are professional and easy to find. You should set your website up to establish your credentials and promote your work. It’s the perfect place to post your speaking schedule, upcoming interviews, and school visits. Blogging is up to you, but if you decide to blog, make sure you do it regularly.

Social Media: Social media makes it easy for you to communicate with your audience about your book and upcoming activities. If you refrain from posting crazy things—like a mug shot of your weird brother-in-law from his last arrest—Faccbook humanizes you. It’s a great place to share pictures of your school visits, book signings, and interviews. I post lots of pictures of peacocks, and my FB “friends” do, too.

Events: Set up book readings and signings for yourself and participate in author fairs. Contact local elementary schools and ask to speak at career day or read to a class on Read Across America Day. Do this once, and you’ll be asked back every year. Volunteer to speak every chance you get. Your mantra should be “Why, yes, of course!” Events are a great way to establish name recognition and meet potential fans.

Media: Subscribe to the local newspaper and introduce yourself to the editor. Make it a point to comment favorably on columns and cartoons that you like. Email the editor your suggestions for future columns, and make yourself available for interviews. Recently, I queried our local paper about writing an educational column on peacocks. The editor liked the idea, and my first column is coming out soon.

Remember, you can’t build your platform overnight, and it’s never finished. It requires consistent effort on your part keeping it up to date. Sound daunting? Perhaps, but it’s definitely worth the time: once you establish a successful platform, you’ll attract your personal audience and extend your network. That’s how I became known as “The Peacock Lady.”

Illo via Wikimedia Commons

Published by Mary Jo Hazard, M.A., M.F.T.

Author of “P is for Palos Verdes”, “The Peacocks of Palos Verdes” and “Palo’s World”. Books are available at local shops, Amazon and Available for school visits, book readings and signings. I’m now revising my first novel “Stillwater."

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