Yes, You Need a Platform

Congratulations, you wrote a book! And, if you're like me, you realize that you don't have a platform. I should have been developing connections, establishing myself as an expert in the field, and figuring out how to connect with potential readers while I was writing The Peacocks of Palos Verdes.

The only exposure I'd ever had was a "My Turn" essay in the Daily Breeze about the peacock adventures I shared with my youngest grandson. At that time, I wasn't an expert on peafowl--no one knew my name. I wrote my peacock book because there wasn't even one book written about our local birds. I hadn't been telling the immediate world what I was writing because I thought someone might steal my idea and publish a peacock book before I did.

Of course, that didn't happen. Mine was the first peacock book in Palos Verdes, and I wanted to get it into the hands of peacock lovers' everywhere. I had no time to put together a platform, pardon the pun, I had to create one on the fly. It was easier than I thought and you can do it too.

The first step is identifying your audience. Face it, no matter how compelling your book is--it's not for everyone. I know that you want it to be, but trust me, it's not. You have to identify who your ideal readers are and zero in on them. You can't build a platform unless you know who you're talking to. A notable exception to this rule is when you write for children; then you pitch to the moms and grandmas. They're the ones who buy the books.

Here are some ways to build your platform:

Website and blog: Buy the URLs specific to you. I used and reserved for future use. They're professional and easy to find. You should set your website up to establish your credentials and promote your work. It's the perfect place to post your speaking schedule, upcoming interviews, and school visits. Blogging is up to you, but if you decide to blog, make sure you do it regularly.

Social Media: Social media makes it easy for you to communicate with your audience about your book and upcoming activities. If you refrain from posting crazy things--like a mug shot of your weird brother-in-law from his last arrest--Face Book humanizes you. It's a great place to share pictures of your school visits, book signings, and interviews. I post lots of peacock pictures and my "Friends" do too.

Events: Set up book readings and signings for yourself and participate in author fairs. Contact local elementary schools and offer to speak at career day and Read Across America day. Do this once, and you'll be asked back every year. Volunteer to speak every chance you get. Your mantra should be, "Why yes, of course." Events are a great way to establish name recognition and meet your potential fans.

Media: Subscribe to the local newspaper and introduce yourself to the editor. Make it a point to comment favorably on columns and cartoons that you like. Email the editor your suggestions for future columns, and make yourself available for interviews. Recently, I queried our local paper about writing an educational column on peacocks. The editor liked the idea, and my first column is coming out soon.

Remember, you can't build your platform overnight and it's never finished. It requires consistent effort on your part keeping it up to date. Sound daunting? Perhaps, but it's definitely worth the time, because once you establish a successful platform, you'll attract your personal audience and extend your network. That's how I became known as "the peacock lady."