What's Your Author Platform?
A few months back, Ben McConnell shared 10 things about writing your first business book on his Church of the Customer blog. (He's co-author with Jackie Huba of the excellent books Creating Customer Evangelists and Citizen Marketers.)
Spend 1-2 years building an audience. "Platform" is everything. A platform is the stage you have already created. It may be your successful entrepreneurialism, your noteworthy career as a muckety-muck at a famous company, your research as an academic, your work as a consultant or analyst at an agency, your well-read blog, or your quotability in the media. Or a combination of all of that. Platform is the primary criteria by which publishers will decide to buy your book. A publisher will rely on your platform for book sales, too.
Of course, as a self-empowered author, YOU are the publisher. And as your own publisher, you should be very much aware of and concerned with building your platform -- a word that's being used more and more in publishing circles.
Joe Wikert has a nice author platform post on his Publishing 2020 blog, on which he writes:
I consider "reach" to be the most important component of an author platform. The fact nobody wants to be too candid about is that a following of several hundred thousand people (and access to their e-mail addresses!) is often preferred over just about any set of credentials you can think of.
So ... your platform is just another way of referring to the relationship you have with your ideal readers, buyers and fans. Is yours a strong and well-defined relationship? Or a little blurry and hard to describe?
More questions: Who already knows you? What type of reader and book buyer would you be most likely to connect with? Through what channels could you reach those specific readers most effectively? And how can you capture their names and e-mail addresses -- and get permission to stay in touch with them?