Skip to main content

Can you really build an author platform?

Something authors hear more and more about is the need to build a platform. While the image this conjures up may involve putting the author on a pedestal in Trafalgar Square, the idea is rather that publishers are beginning to realize that the pitiful budgets they have available for promotion simply aren't enough to get a book visible. In most cases, it's now down to the author's own visibility to pull people towards the book.

There's an element of truth in this, but there's also an assumption. Can you build a platform, or is it something you have (or don't have) anyway?

Obvious platforms include being a celebrity, or doing the kind of public speaking job that puts you in front of tens of thousands of people each year. Yes, we can see the value of a platform then. But what about the ordinary person who happens to have written an excellent book? Can you start from scratch, or are you doomed?

The message is mixed. There's good news and bad. The good news is you can build a platform to a degree. The bad news is that it may take a long time, and you may never get very far.

In the end, there's a lot of luck involved. Forget those who tell you they have a magic route to visibility. They're like the people who told you they would magically increase the value of your money (or your house) every year, without fail. They are riding on luck. Instead, I'm afraid, it's a matter of backbreaking (or at least carpal tunnel breaking) work - hammering away at as many means of exposure as possible.

So it means taking up every opportunity for publicity, constantly looking for new ways to appeal to the media. And making the most of your internet exposure. Blogging, yes. Using Twitter if you like (though don't expect wonders). And best of all, if possible, finding a way to get exposure that gives added value. Few people (apart from your Auntie Violet) are going to be interested in a website that's about you. At least to begin with. But if you can set up a really good website about (say) pandas, the best panda website in the world, you are going to draw people in - and then you truly are starting to build a platform. (Assuming you want to write about pandas.)

Your blog/web site/whatever has to be interesting in its own right, and just incidentally happens to give you exposure. Perhaps more important still, you have to really want to communicate about pandas (or whatever). It's not enough to stick in a bit of panda material around a core of 'I'm wonderful'. You should truly care about pandas, or find something else to help build your platform.

I'm not saying you can't do it. I'm not saying don't do it. But be aware, be very aware, that this could take a huge amount of time and effort... and in the end it's luck that will probably swing things your way, or the other.

Comments

  1. My lack of interest in pandas might put me at a disadvantage. That, and the fact that I don't have an Auntie called Violet. However, I do have four or five old forklift pallets in the garden. I had planned to use these to upgrade my compost heap, but could these be used instead to make an author platform, do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A lack of an Auntie Violet seems to have doomed your website. But to be fair, it doesn't have to be about pandas, that was just an example.

    I'm afraid four or five pallets aren't enough for an effective platform, even in Norfolk. I'd keep them for the compost heap.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm shortly going to an event which is billed as "Upgrading your Mobile Platform". This is a way of allowing your web site to be viewed and to communicate with a mobile phone or in your case an iPhone.

    The physical world is therefore not involved unless you think of the software and the odd few pieces of hardware to get it all to work, but more importantly a well respected old fashioned word has been taken up and reworked by a digital generation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Four or five pallets seems an excellent start to a platform. Step 1. Start compost heap. Step 2. Review existing sites about compost heaps, and identify the gap. Step 3. Start the site about the aspect of composting that sadly falls through the cracks of the existing sites. Step 4. ??? Step 5. Best selling book about compost.

    Somewhere along the way, you might look into marrying someone with an Aunt Viola, which would then mean, voila, you have an Aunt Viola too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmm. Platform is certainly used a number of ways, but in the sense of an author platform, we're looking at a way of making your books visible to a potential audience, which I guess makes it not an unreasonable use of the word.

    Cunning way to get an Aunt Viola, though I'm not sure if it helps get an Auntie Violet.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope