No one becomes a best-selling author overnight. That’s not to say it’s impossible to become one at all, but like most things in life, you’re going to get out of your publishing endeavor what you put into it. Blood, sweat and tears? Well, hopefully not blood, and with any luck you won’t be shedding too many tears. On the other hand, a little sweat never hurt any author we know of!
If you’re ready and willing to put the legwork into making your book a success, then you’re already well on your way. What you need now is a few road signs that will get you where you’re going as quickly as possible. The following five key steps to building a platform will send your book flying off the shelves and will guide you on your path to success.
Odds are that if you’re writing or thinking of writing a book, you’re probably off to a good start with this already, but it has to be said. There’s no building a house without laying a foundation first. As an author, your expertise is your foundation. Make sure you’re committed to your project, because you’re going to be working with it for a long time. If your expertise spans a wide range of topics, the best thing to do is to choose a niche to start with. You can always add new books to your collection later!
Having a great book to sell isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t have anyone to sell it to. So, figure out whom you’re selling to! Again, if your field of expertise is broad, find a niche within it to be your springboard. For instance, say you wanted to write about good nutrition. There are dozens of narrower audiences you could target with that: children, people with medical problems, people with eating disorders, heart attack survivors, etc. Later, you might expand your line of products to include more than one of these groups, but in the beginning your best bet is to choose one of them and focus on that.
Before you start to reach out to your new audience, you need to have a way to sell them your books and products. Check that the mechanics of your business are in order. The checklist includes a company name (this may just be your personal name), a logo, a website, and a phone line and email account. In some cases, it may also include basic office supplies such as a filing system, business cards, calendars and letterheads — little things that will make a big difference in how smoothly things pan out later.
The way you do this is going to depend a lot on who your audience is, exactly. If you’re dealing with a younger crowd, resources such as Facebook and Twitter will be helpful to you. If you’re targeting senior citizens, you’re probably going to want to look into things that are more along the lines of newsletters and bulletin boards. Regardless of whom you’re talking to, be relatable and approachable. Get people to like you first, and they’ll be a lot more interested in buying your book when you publish it later on down the road.
Your readers come first, and they deserve the best. Whether through your book or through other means, give them the tools that they need to succeed, and always make sure that those tools are top notch. If you decide to promote your platform by coaching or speaking, be thorough, prepared and well rehearsed. If you sell pre-book resources such as e-books and audio CDs, check that they are all well made and genuinely useful. A happy audience will earn you a good reputation — and give your platform the foundation it needs to bloom into a healthy business for you as an author.