Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The most important word in any author's vocabulary is...

Nope, it isn't “marketing.”

Wrong, it ain't “credibility.”

And no, it’s not “Oprah.”

The most important word in any author’s vocabulary is: platform.

Here’s what that means:

• A platform is what helps sell books
• A platform is the way you reach readers
• A platform is your expertise on your book’s topic(s)
• A platform is a network of notoriety and exposure
• A platform is how you communicate with your audience
• A platform is that which gives you access to sales
• A platform is what you stand for in the marketplace
• A platform is where you speak your mind beyond what’s already been said in your books
• A platform is where you inform your fans of future books, appearances, projects, news and the like
• A platform is your place in the world
•A platform is your accomplishments

With that in mind, here are the three reasons every author needs a platform.

1. To sell books. It’s tough to move 10,000 copies from the back of a cave. Too many authors – especially self-published ones – work their butts off writing and producing their books, and then do nothing with them! Sadly, writing and producing the book is the EASY part. The key is, building your platform so you can move those darn boxes out of your garage!

What’s your 12-month platform plan?

2. More media interviews. If media outlets see that you’ve got a platform, they will gladly book you for their shows. Why? Because they know you’ve got fans, customers and loyalists who will tune in. They know that viewers, readers and listeners will say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this guy before!” And that’s what makes their producers (and advertisers) super happy.

How many interviews did you do this year?

3. Credibility is king. Every time you try to make a deal that books you for a speaking engagement, sells copies, secures a TV movie about your life, etc., the potential client is going to ask the question, “Have people heard about you?” It’s EXACTLY like the scene in the recent movie Little Miss Sunshine, in which Greg Kinnear’s book deal goes kaput because the publisher exclaims, “But nobody’s heard of you!”

Have people heard of you?

OK. Now that you understand the value of author platforms, let’s explore two well-known examples.

First, think about the most obvious example in the world: Oprah.

Personally, I’m not a diehard fan of The Big O, but you gotta admit, when she writes a book (or promotes someone else’s book, for that matter), BAM!! Millions of sales at the drop of a hat.

Now, does that happen because these particular books are “good”?

Maybe. But it probably has more to do with the power of her platform: TV show, magazine, radio show, reputation and Harpo Productions.

Another great example is Rachel Ray. How many cookbooks, DVD’s, appliances and other ancillary items do you think she sells each year?

According to a 2006 article in Business Week, about 40 gazillion bajillion.

OK, I might have exaggerated that number a bit. (I think it’s actually higher)

But why does she move so much product? Because her platform is strong. Really strong. Like, Schwarzenegger strong. Sure, she might be an annoying little troll, but you’ve to got to admit: she’s everywhere. TV shows, product endorsements, even her own magazine!

In order to build a platform so you can get well known, you sort of have to BE well known already.

So, that’s your challenge. How will you get better known and known better?

Here’s a quick list of ways to start building your platform 2-day, 4-free:

• Blog every single day for six months
• Publish an ezine twice a month
• Give one free speech every week
• Publish articles regularly on
• Walk around conferences and events (filled with attendees who are your target readers) and hand out hundreds of free copies of your book to EVERYONE (This one works. I’ve done it many times!)

Look. I know you’re not Oprah. And I know you’re not Rachel Ray.

But nobody is! Those two women reside in the 0.01 percentile of authors whose platforms are so impossibly strong that they can sell millions and millions of books in short periods of time.

You and me, however, reside in that 99.9% of people who need work our butts creating, expanding and maintaining our platforms on a daily basis.

After all, that’s the single most important word in any author’s vocabulary.

How does the word "platform" apply to non-authors?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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