Today, if you are seeking to pitch a book, script, or yourself to get published by a mainstream publisher, sell film rights for a book or a script, find an agent or manager, or get paid speaking engagements, it’s all about platform.
That means you need a solid track record in your field, expert credentials in what you write or speak about, a high-profile in the print and broadcast media, and a large social media following. In short, in today’s media and celebrity driven world, you need to do something to stand out. That typically means doing your own publicity and social media campaign to create a brand for yourself, whether you write books, scripts, or films, or conduct workshops on some topics.
This platform has become especially important to sell both nonfiction and fiction books to mainstream publishers, though these guidelines are equally applicable to any field where you are creating creative content. At one time, publishers would build campaigns around new authors to establish them in the media firmament. But now, with rare exceptions, that is no more. New authors have to bring to the table their own marketing and publicity campaign, and already have key elements of this campaign in place, such as 50,000 or more Twitter followers.
Occasionally, once unknown people break through the media clutter, when they are discovered through a human interest story that goes viral. Then, agents come knocking on their doors to represent them, and they get offers of publishing and films deals based on their life story, as well as requests to speak at big events. They may even get merchandising offers to feature them in a line of products based on their story. But mostly, the already famous, such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Angela Jolie, Kim Kardashian, and other household names are the ones who get the deals.
Thus, to stand out yourself, you need to create a powerful platform to get a deal. As Carole Jelen and Michael McAllister write in their book: Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules: A Literary Agent’s Guide to Growing Your Audience in 14 Steps, “An author’s platform is the most powerful key to success in today’s saturated market, and increasingly publishers are demanding that new authors come to them with an existing audience of interested followers. Authors who are self-publishing have an even bigger need to build an engaged audience.” The same might be said for authors who want to sell scripts or film rights to a book, or for speakers seeking to get booked on the paying speaker circuit.
So what are these elements that make a platform today? They include the following:
1) a personal website which features you and your books or other creative endeavors; and today your website should be optimized to be viewed on mobile platforms;
2) a blog to build a community with your readers;
3) a Twitter account and following, which you should build up to the many thousands; preferably 50,000 or more;
4) a presence on Facebook with both a personal page for your personal brand and a page for your book, film, or speaking topics;
5) an author’s profile and following on LinkedIn;
6) speaking engagements, featuring your live personal appearances at organizations and events;
7) articles published through various publications and websites, including on article aggregator sites, such as Huffington Post;
8) radio podcasts and guest appearances;
9) book or script trailers and video blogs on YouTube;
10) a website for each of your books or creative endeavors;
11) an author page on Amazon;
12) book reviews of your books;
13) a celebration launch of your book, film, workshop, or other creative projects.
You should also send out or post regular press releases, such as through one of the PR services, like PRBuzz, PRWeb, PRWire, BusinessWire, Cision, or ExpertClick. Additionally, make yourself available to promote what you have written or created, and let the media know you are an expert in certain areas, so you get called to comment on recent developments in your field. For example, when I wrote a series of books about crime, I was frequently asked to comment on the latest criminal cases in the news; when I wrote several books about relationships in the workplace, I was often called to comment on work issues, such as complaints about bad bosses and office shootings.
If you write a book proposal, feature what you have accomplished in the areas related to your topic and indicate where you already have a following. For example, in my proposals, I note that I am the organizer and assistant organizer of 10 Meetup Groups in L.A. and San Francisco dealing with writing and films that have nearly 10,000 members. Note any business groups you belong to such as a local Chamber of Commerce. Indicate if you have a speaker’s video and provide a link. As relevant, point up your academic credentials, such as if you are writing or speaking about mental illness and have a PhD in psychology or have worked with hundreds of clients. Highlight the most influential media attention you have already gotten from newspapers, magazines, the Internet media, and radio and TV guest appearances and interviews. Also, consider self-publishing a book in your field to help you gain additional credibility and speaker’s engagements.
In short, think of yourself as a celebrity in the making as you create your author’s brand and platform. If you need assistance with any phase of this process, from writing your book or script to getting published, produced, or promoting yourself, Changemakers Publishing and Writing (www.changemakerspublishingandwriting.com) and Publishers Agents and Films (www.publishersagentsandfilms.com) can help.