One of the first things I look at when we receive a book proposal is the author’s platform. Most people think that an author’s platform is their social media following, but it’s so much more! I would define it as the meaningful connections an author has that will result in book sales.
Think about it, when you go to the bookstore you’re going to be drawn to the books whose titles or cover art you recognize from Instagram or your favorite Goodreads list. When you read the author’s name and you think, “Oh, I’ve heard of this author on…” that is part of the author’s platform.
There are 6 key categories I look at when researching a potential author. I want to know all the various outlets they already have established that we could use to promote and sell the book.
- Social Media
- Media Segments
- Public Speaking
- Celebrity Connections
I ask myself a few questions while looking at each level of an author’s platform. These help me to get a better feel for the ability they have to convert connections into sales.
- How many followers do you have on each of your social media sites?
- How involved are your followers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
- How is the quality of your posts?
- How often do you post?
Blog/Website (These questions are very similar to social media.)
- How professional is your website?
- What is your website’s world ranking on alexa.com?
- How is the quality of your posts? Do you focus on a specific topic?
- How often do you post?
- How involved are your readers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
- Do you have an email list? How many subscribers do you reach?
- Have you recently been interviewed on television, radio, podcast, newspaper, or magazine? If so, include dates and a links to the interviews.
- Are there any news stations, newspapers, etc. that would be willing to interview you about your book?
- Do you guest write for any newspapers, magazines, major blogs/websites?
- Are you part of any credited writing organizations (i.e. SCBWI, SFWA, IBPA, etc.)? Hint: If you Google “writing organizations” you’re sure to find a group that fits your writing genre.
- Do you participate in any annual conferences?
- Are you involved in any national or community organizations?
- Are you an expert in a specific subject to the point that you are qualified to speak on the topic?
- Are you represented by a speaking agency?
- What is the general demographic of your audiences? Do you speak at corporate events, middle schools, parenting conferences, or writing workshops?
- Are you paid to travel for speaking events?
- Do you personally know any “big names” that would be willing to endorse your book? (Think about the wonders an Oprah’s Book Club sticker can do for sales.)
- If you are writing non-fiction, do you know an influential person willing to write the foreword?
- Are you connected with any popular bloggers or social media accounts that would feature your book?
You can see from the above points that each connection will allow you to influence a new group of people. Yes, writing a standout book is important, but having a strong author platform allows people to know your standout book exists.