My Platform Needs Repair
by Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich
Before I self-published my memoir, D is For Dysfunctional…and Doo Wop, I read a lot of material and talked to several other authors about marketing my book. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I needed a “platform” or I’d never sell my book. When I inquired what “platform” meant, I learned that this term means, quite simply, how many people know who I am and would recognize my name on the spine of a book.
When I investigated further, I learned that my platform could be determined by a number of factors:
- how many friends I had on Facebook
- how many hits I received on my blog
- how many people followed me on Twitter
Well, I knew I had only a handful of friends and family on Facebook, I didn’t have a blog (and I wasn’t sure I wanted something that sounded so disgusting). Furthermore, I had absolutely no idea how to tweet a Twitter.
Therefore, as a first step toward building my platform, I immediately signed up at the local community center for a class about blogging. As a result, I set up a blog and enjoyed writing humorous posts that many of my friends read and commented upon. (I also received several “spam” comments from strangers that turned my stomach and had to be trashed.) I finally had to ask myself: “Are my blog posts resulting in new buyers of my book?” Sorry to say, they were not. However, all my friends told me they couldn’t wait to read my next blog posts.
So I was delighted to see an article in the February 2015 issue of Writer’s Digest titled, “Success Stories in Self-Promotion,” by Jessica Strawser and Tiffany Luckey. The writers admit that authors can “easily get lost…in this era where anyone can upload a manuscript and put it on sale.” They explain that “platform building” and “creating author brands” can make an author’s head spin. Seven authors were profiled in the article for their success in widely varying strategies including, among others, partnering with nonprofits for a book launch, providing specific helpful content online, utilizing Goodreads giveaways, producing YouTube videos, lining up blog tours, and having their success stories posted on Amazon’s home page.
I highly recommend the Strawser/Luckey article to authors, and I’m going to try some of the book promotion strategies discussed. The authors conclude by saying, “[T]here’s no one-size-fits-all path to success.” One sure thing I learned from reading the article: I’d better buy a bigger bucket of marketing nails to prop up my platform.
Dr. Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior. She told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior’s a bit wonky.” Her publications include academic journal articles, comedy show scripts, stories in Good Old Days magazine, and an award-winning radio play. Mary Ellen blogs on her website, maryellenstepanich.com. Reach her via e-mail at DrStep@cox.net.