by Joel Friedlander
As some of you know I’ve been conducting book marketing mastermind sessions with some top book marketers recently.
Exposing myself (figuratively, of course) to the ideas and practices of these experts has changed my thinking on some topics.
One of these is the author platform, something I’ve written about often before.
And here’s what changed for me: I’ve always thought of the metaphoric platform as something we patiently and consciously build, board by board with our marketing and networking activities.
You write a blog, give talks to groups, establish your authority, authenticity and helpfulness, gathering fans and readers along the way. This foundation becomes your platform.
The Big Change
But what if you thought about it from the other side, so to speak? What I learned from talking to these marketing pros is this:
The platform isn’t about you at all. It’s about the unmet needs of your audience.
That’s the platform that already exists. It’s there for you if you can address those unmet needs, because then you’ll have the platform to sell from, to spread your message or your stories.
The audience creates the platform. What you do with all your activity is try to move yourself onto the platform so that you have a place to speak from.
What does this mean in reality?
For an example out of left field, look at the contest going on right now for the Republican presidential nomination here in the U.S.
For months there’s been a large percentage of Republicans who have been unhappy with the candidates in the race. This unmet need of the audience created a powerful platform for anyone who could legitimately get up there to make their case.
So when someone like the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, got into the race by jumping up on the platform already created, he rocketed to the top of the polls.
Was it his marketing, speaking, or books that did that? Nope. It was the power of all those unmet needs—the power of the platform—that did it. Once people got a closer look at him, he fell right off, but that’s not the point.
Think about your own subject area. No matter how many books have been written about it, there are still lots of unmet needs.
At the Pitchapalooza I participated in a few months ago one of the big hits was a pitch for a book about tree pruning. It turned out the best book on this narrow subject was very old, and had never been modernized or replaced. The person pitching had the exact credentials and the ability to create the new version the market needed. Every one of us on the panel immediately recognized a winning proposition. Why?
The unmet needs of that niche market are what will propel that book to regular, healthy sales. The people who are just waiting for a book that’s been written recently on this topic make up the platform for the author.
I could go on, but I think you can see the meaning and importance of this idea.
Certainly you have to do all the marketing practices you are doing, without them you won’t be able to use the platform you identify.
But look around, it’s a different world. People in all niches and interest groups and genres have these unmet needs, whether they realize it or not.
It’s up to us to find them and fill those needs. Welcome to the new author platform—it’s not about you at all.
Article by Joel Friedlander
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at TheBookDesigner.com. He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.