What to Talk About When You Talk About Platform

Every writer wants to know how to build a stronger platform. We get constantly asked, How much is enough? What number should I shoot for? 

When asked how much money is enough, John D. Rockefeller famously said, “Just a little bit more.” The same goes for platform numbers. More is always better. Even if you have a large platform, it could be a bit bigger, right? Most writers are in platform infancy. So what do you do when you’re pulling together your proposal and you want to talk about your platform that you wish was, “Just a little bit more?”

Here are three ways to talk about your platform when you don’t have one: 

  • Talk about the good. What’s the strongest part of your platform? That’s where you want to emphasize the good. That’s a great place to focus on and explain why it will help sell your book. Good beats great when it comes to feeling like your platform has to be perfect. There is no perfect. As Seth Godin reminds us, “Ship it.” That means emphasizing the good.
  • Talk about where you are going. Hope isn’t a strategy. This is where you tell them about what you’re doing to build a bigger, better platform. One thing we always remind our clients is: A publisher can’t build your platform - that’s not what they do - but they can come alongside your efforts and enhance them. They have too many books to work on and there simply isn’t enough time in the day for publishers to build your platform. It’s the difference between starting a fire and pouring gas on it. Publishers are great at pouring gas, but only if you show them you’ve got a fire started. 


“Hope isn’t a strategy.” 


  • Comparable platforms are your friend. When you talk about your potential, use comps to show what you’re aiming for and how your strategy will get you there. When Jen Hatmaker first started working with us, she had zero email followers. That’s right, even New York Times bestselling authors start at the same number as you: zero. Where you go from there is up to you, but giving publishers a frame of reference for where it is you want to go changes the platform conversation. Potential is a good thing, so talk about it.    

Do you want further advice and help with creating your proposal? We’ll show you all our book proposal tips and tricks in The Essential Book Proposal, an 11-module video course developed specifically for authors just like you, on the cusp of getting published. We are going to show you what we want in a book proposal, as literary agents, and walk you through each element in a book proposal, including specific sections like Unique Selling Proposition, Comparable Titles, Short Summary Statement, and more!

After working your way through our course, you are going to have a completed first draft of your book proposal, finished and fantastic!

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