Part 1: The Frame and the Wheels
An author ‘platform’ is the method and tools used to reach and connect with your audience. It includes a lot of different components and can be both online and physical. Over the next few
You might be asking the question, “Why do I need a platform?” If you’ve written books, are a public speaker, are in ministry – whatever – you presumably want to connect with your audience. Unfortunately, the line, “write it and they will read”, just isn’t true. How can people read your work if they don’t know you exist? Although building your platform takes time, it will save time in the end, freeing up valuable minutes for other things – like writing.
THE FRAME: Trust, Value and Engagement
Like the frame of the bicycle, these are three important principles on which everything else is anchored.
1. Trust: Marketing is never sleazy, unethical, intrusive, and it does not involve trickery.
2. Value: Offer value to your audience in everything you do. Ask yourself, “What does my audience want?”
3. Engagement: This is about building relationships and making real connections, not just ‘pushing’ your book.
Tim Grahl, a well know book launch coach, defines marketing as “the act of building long-lasting connections with people” through being what he calls “relentlessly helpful”. (Grahl, Your First 1000 Copies, p.8)
THE WHEELS: Online Hub & Email
An online HUB and an EMAIL list are like the wheels on the bicycle. You’re going nowhere without them!
You need an online hub – somewhere where people can learn out about you and your books or services. The best is a website or blog. You can use a free service like wordpress.com or blogger.com, but I recommend purchasing a domain name and creating a self-hosted website like wordpress.org. Yes, it costs a minimal amount of money, but you own it and can do what you want there.
Do not use your facebook page or your Amazon author page as your hub. It’s like growing a garden on borrowed land. You might have permission for now and maybe you’re growing the most beautiful vegetables imaginable, but at some point the owner might sell, die, or otherwise change the rules. That’s why you need a platform that you own and that you have control over. A website also offers more opportunity for branding, but that is a topic for another day.
2. Email List:
The second wheel is an email newsletter. According to, well, EVERYONE – building your mailing list should be your #1 marketing goal. You might be thinking, “Why email? Isn’t that old fashioned?” Email is still the best way to speak directly to your audience. One of the primary goals of your website should be to get people to sign up for your mailing list. This is NOT the same as signing up to follow the blog. This is a key point and is why ‘email list’ and ‘online hub’ are the two wheels. They work in tandem!
Facebook has billions of users; it’s easy to see how you can get lost in the crowd. At the time of this writing, facebook’s policies allow only 12% – 16% of the people who ‘like’ your page to actually ever see it. Your posts just don’t show up on their feed. Of those, many of them will miss it because it will get buried in other updates. The same goes for twitter and other social media. People are going to miss what you’ve shared!
Email, on the other hand, goes directly to each individual inbox. Does that mean everyone is going to open every email? Probably not, but the percentages are staggeringly higher. And this is just talking about people seeing your posts. When it comes to actual book sales, for instance, various experts have tested the results and have shown an 80% conversion rate from email during a book launch as opposed to a fraction of a
The bottom line is this: You need a way to communicate directly with your audience and other than telephoning each and every person, email is the best way to go.
Next time we’ll discuss the specifics of setting up an email newsletter and I’ll give you some tips on how to engage potential readers once they do sign up. In the meantime, keep on riding that bike!
Tracy Krauss, current ICWF President, has more than 20 books and plays in print and has successfully launched several titles onto Amazon’s