Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Power of Platform - Athena Dean

By Athena Dean
Solutions Advisor, WinePress Publishing Group
Enumclaw, WA

Publishers Weekly called 2007 “The Year of the Platform.” At every conference I attend, you just can’t get away from the question editors and agents ask, “What kind of a platform do you have?”

Having a platform is a necessity if you want to become a successful author.

What is a Platform?

A “platform” is the publishing industry’s term for authors with a built-in audience, usually from a large church or media exposure. (“Looking for the Next Big Thing: A Christian Publishing Update,” Christianity Today, June 2007)

Platform: defined as a presence, ideally national, at which you are recognized in your area of expertise. (“Ask Allison,” Allison Scotch, novelist & blogger, March 3, 2008)

Why You Need a Platform

If you’re going to be effective in developing a platform, you first must understand why you need one. If God has given you a message, then your book must reach the hands of those who need to read it. The larger your platform, the more your words are read. Here are the top five reasons why you need a platform.

1. To sell books.
Bottom line: publishers want to know how many books you, the author, are going to sell. And if you are custom publishing and expect to make it a successful venture, then you’re going to need to sell lots of books. A platform will help you make that happen.
2. To develop a following.
If you provide answers and helpful information for people, you will become a resource for them and they will continue to come back to you for more, whether it be in ancillary products or more books on similar topics.
3. To prove yourself to a publisher.
Many authors work with us at WinePress as a springboard to traditional publishing. Having a book in print helps you start building that all-important platform that you can utilize when negotiating with a royalty publisher.
4. To be able to quantify your results.
When you sit at that negotiating table, you need to share hard facts and numbers. You need to be able to say, “I have 5,000 people on my e-zine subscriber list; I speak to 10,000 women a year; I have 4,000 unique visitors a day on my blog; I’ve sold 7,500 books in the last 18 months,” and so on.
5. To reach large numbers with your message.
If you want to get beyond your local community and congregation, a platform will help you reach people you could never hope to find in your back yard. It can help you access countless people who need to hear what you have to say.
On virtually every editor panel I sit on, publishing representatives declare their single most important requirement next to a great book is a hefty platform. So, the reality is, build a platform or perish!

During our two-part session at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, Carla Williams and I will be teaching you different ways you can build a platform, from speaking to social networking to book signings to writing articles and e-zines, and much, much more. One thing’s for sure, you’ve got to be willing to be creative and think outside the box these days. We look forward to helping you do that!

How about you? Comment about a creative way you're building your platform.

Athena Dean, founder of WinePress Publishing and three-time self-published author, has coached hundreds of authors through the daunting task of book production and promotion. Over the last 18 years she has helped bring the degree of credibility for self-published works up to the high level of acceptance in the industry it enjoys today.

Athena is a Solutions Advisor for WinePress Publishing Group and is an active board member of the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association.

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1 comment:

  1. I just came across this excellent post. Thanks for sharing!


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