A platform encompasses the ways you are visible and attracting potential readers. It conveys your expertise and influence. [We do not require authors to approach us through a literary agent. We deal with authors directly.] However, if you’re pursuing a traditional publishing deal, literary agents and publishers expect nonfiction writers to have established platforms. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to land a book deal or acquire an agent without one.

Every author’s platform strategy will be unique to him or her. One size does not fit all. You must follow a path that is natural for you and your writing. However, there are five essential components you need to build your platform:

Understand Your Brand Image
Establish an author identity and use it consistently throughout your material. Your personal brand is how you package and present yourself to readers to distinguish and differentiate yourself from other writers.

Develop and Promote Your Expertise
Are you the go-to expert in your field? You can establish your expertise through:

  • Professional credentials
  • Writing articles
  • Being featured on radio and television, and in print media
  • Testimonials and endorsements
  • Speaking engagements
  • Teaching workshops, seminars, teleclasses, and webinars
  • Hosting your own online radio show or podcast
  • Creating informational products
  • Being a resource for reporters, journalists, and television producers
  • Sending out press and news releases
  • Creating and distributing online informational videos
  • Answering questions via LinkedIn groups and YahooAnswers
  • Blogging and guest posts

Have an Internet Presence
Every potential author needs a website or blog. If you already have a web presence when you begin approaching media you will have an edge over other writers. A blog can add to your credibility, help you establish your expertise, and provide a means to capture potential readers for your database.

Build a List of Contacts
Just how many potential readers are there for your book?. The number of fans you have from Facebook, followers on Twitter, connects on LinkedIn, and subscribers to your blog provide tangible figures. Producing a weekly or monthly e-zine or newsletter is an effective way to grow your list of contacts. Your website and blog can include an opt-in page to capture subscribers.

Engage In Community
You can network through local and regional events, national conferences and conventions, and online social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Online networking sites give you access to connections and a platform to share your writing and expertise.

[Laura Cross is a business strategist. She provides business, publishing, and platform strategies to help entrepreneurs get known as the go-to experts in their field, become published authors, attract high-paying clients, garner major media, and earn more money with less effort by packaging their expertise.]