Many authors myself included would love to focus their attention on just writing their book. In our ideal world, we would write the best work we could. Give it to the publishing powers that be, and in our perfect world; people would gravitate to our book and we would acquire acclaim and wealth as people are entertained and or informed about our writing.
The reality is that every self-published author, and increasingly traditionally published must wear three hats to have any level of success. The writers’ hat: where we create the actual content. The Publishers Hat: where we learn how to do things like layout and work with cover designers and editors, and finally the Entrepreneur’s hat. The entrepreneur’s hat deals with the issue of platform.
After publishing two books one none fiction and one fiction with the 2nd novel on the way, I am convinced that most authors challenges lie in not understanding the latter two hats.
Of course, this begs the question, what is a platform? After reading many different definitions, I find the most satisfying comes from Michael Hyatt. “Platform is the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans.”
From this, we can garner several things. A platform is a tool or a means to an end. It is a tactic not a strategy. This lets us know that our platform then should be flexible to accomplish the goals we have created, i.e To connect with existing and potential fans. A solid platform has three characteristics
- It provides visibility
- It amplifies or extends your message.
- It allows you to connect with people and engage them.
Based on the above a blog can be a platform, a website, a Facebook page, Twitter, an email list, speaking engagements, etc. All of these tools have the means to accomplish connecting with current and potential fans. Which tool is best will depend on your preferences, and the work you are desiring to put into maximizing its effectiveness.
The strongest structures are built on a solid foundation and then as the superstructure is created, additional things can be put in like plumbing, electricity, etc. What then is the foundation that you should build your platform on?
I believe an email list is something that every author should strive for. An email list is your means to contact your fans and influencers. It cannot be taken from you. It will not vary like Facebook rules. You own it unlike other areas of “real estate” on the web. Speaking of real estate here’s a great way to think of platform. If you remember the game monopoly. The ability to win at the game is subject to owing various pieces of real estate and then developing said real estate. As people passed the real estate you owned, they gave you money. In the end, you won because you owned real-estate and invested the monies given to you back into the purchasing of other investments (rail roads, water works etc.) to create a monopoly. Based on the cash you had you were aware of what pieces cost the most money to develop and what to shoot for. Again creating the needed monopoly needed to win the game.
Likewise building a platform is like playing monopoly. Some pieces cost more than others. (I.e. a self hosted website) Some take more time to develop. I will another in another blog post expand upon this concept more.
In the end you have various tools at your disposal so find the one that best works for you as you go about capturing emails.
So let me ask, which platform development tool do you utilize and why? Do you find that it matches up to the 3 characteristics I mentioned above? Let me know I would love to hear from you!