December 8, 2014

It’s all about your book’s platform

Wannabe authors are sick of hearing agents and publishers asking the same question: “Tell me about the platform for your book?”

But there is a reason for the question. After all, authors are asking publishers to invest in their book and, for that investment, the publisher is rightly asking if it is a risk worth taking. The fact is, the person asking the question about platform should actually be the author.

If I had a proposal for a publisher or agent I hope that I would know exactly who is interested in my book. And saying a book is written for male and female, eight to eighty is akin to saying nobody will be interested or that I’ve not taken the time to think through the question.

For example, if my book was about the mating habits of Monarch butterflies I would first figure out how many books are currently available on that topic and if any of them are selling. Then I would ask if my book offered any new breakthrough discovery or if it somehow presented the information in a new and compelling way. I would also determine who exactly would use the information in my book and how my book would reach them. Further, I would look at my own expertise and ask if my biography, training and experience qualified me to write the book.

Next I would look at the publisher and/or agent to determine if my book fits their catalog. You would surely not want a religious publisher to publish a book on science or vice-versa.

In addition, I would check my own network to figure out just how many people or organizations I have access to that would pony up and buy my book. And if I’m thinking that my book will sell in bookstores, I’d think again. Bookstores do not sell books, instead they offer books to those who are looking for a particular book or subject.

All this is why having a good platform is essential to selling a book.

The million dollar question actually is: What can I do to establish or expand my own platform?

Here’s a short list. There are many more, these just come to mind.

  • Become an expert in your field
  • Speak to any organization or get-together where others are interested in the topic of your book
  • Blog, Facebook or Tweet daily about your topic
  • Write articles in websites, blogs or periodicals
  • Network with everyone you know to get ideas and referrals
  • Build a website and add content to it regularly
  • While the list may sound daunting (and it is certainly difficult), every successful author paid their dues on their climb up the ladder. Though there are one-in-a million-exceptions, those are tough odds.

Those of us on the Principia team have published hundreds of books. We have the experience and expertise to help our authors be the best they can be. At the same time, we would never want to build false expectations when we know otherwise.

One sure fire way to discuss the prospects for your book is to fill in the “Let’s Talk About Your Book” form on this website. We will contact you by phone or email within a few days to discuss your book. I look forward to hearing from you.

By: Dirk Wierenga, Principia Media Director of Publishing

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