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Get Known Before the Book Deal
Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform
by Christina Katz
Writer’s Digest Books, 2008
$16.99 paperback, 272 pages
Read an excerpt: Why All Authors Need a Platform (from Chapter 1: Be Visible)
Sell Your First Book & Develop a Successful and Sustainable Writing Career
Before you can land a book deal—before you can even attract the interest of agents and editors—you need to be visible. How do you become visible? You develop a platform, or a way of reaching your readers. Everybody can develop a platform, and this book shows you how to do it while you’re still writing.
This book offers:
- A step-by-step approach to creating, growing, and nurturing a platform
- An economical approach to self-promotion (no need to spend thousands)
- A clear way to uncover your strengths and weaknesses as an author
- A philosophy of authorship that leaves you confident, empowered, and equally partnered with agents, editors, and publishers (instead of waiting to be discovered)
- A diverse set of tools and methods for getting known (not just Web-based tools or ideas for extroverts)
- The strategies that are essential (or not) to online promotion
After you read this book, you’ll be able to answer the inevitable question: "What’s your platform?" You’ll learn the hows and whys of becoming visible and how to cultivate visibility from scratch. Best of all, you won’t need any previous knowledge or experience to get started.
Growing a writing career isn’t just about landing one book deal, and then scrambling like crazy. There is a more strategic and steady way to lay the groundwork so that you can avoid scrambling altogether—and Get Known Before the Book Deal is the only comprehensive book that shows you how.
Definition of Platform
Platform encompasses all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership. Platform development is important not only for authors; it’s also crucial fro aspiring and soon-to-be authors. Your platform includes your Web presence, public speaking, teaching, your publication credits, and any other means you have for making yourself known to a viable readership.
Praise for Get Known Before the Book Deal
"The difference between a struggling writer searching for a book deal and the happily published author is a well-developed platform. (And if you don’t know what a platform is, you really need this book.) It’s refreshing to read a book devoted to this very important part of the publishing process. Get Known Before the Book Deal is a must-read for any writer who wants to become a published author."
—Lee Silber, author of Self-Promotion for the Creative Person
"Katz challenges the comfortable myths writers often hide behind: I’m the exception, and I’m too modest for self-promotion. Marketing is the author’s responsibility, and new authors seeking ways to meaningfully increase their audience and reach—before, during, and after publication—will find hundreds of practical strategies here. Katz says: get over yourself. She shows you exactly how to do just that."
“This should be the go-to book for every writer wanting to succeed in the highly competitive world of book publishing. As an agent, I know platform is as important (in a successful deal) as the quality of the written words on the page. Christina brings that home in her warm and accessible writing style of this book that’s filled with juicy tips!”
—Sharlene Martin, Martin Literary Management
“Every day I tell writers, ‘Build your platform!’ They ask, ‘How?’ Now I can point them in the right direction, to Christina Katz’s excellent guide to platform-building.”
—Eric Maisel, author and coach
“Christina Katz’s no-nonsense guide to building an author platform is a shot in the arm, a kick in the pants, and a bracing dose of reality, not to mention chockful of sage advice, invaluable resources, and buckets of encouragement.”
Table of Contents
Introduction: What’s your platform?
Part One: PLATFORM Ready
1. Become Visible
2. Quiz Yourself
3. Swap Shoes
4. Handle the Truth
5. Cultivate Your Expertise
6. Craft Your Niche (for Fiction Writers)
7. Meet Your Readership
8. Align With Your Audience
9. Get Geisty
[THE WRITE ATTITUDE]
10. Delve Into Integrity
11. Think Productive
12. Ditch Your Resistance
13. Act From Passion
14. Get Some Input
15. Style It Real
Part Two: PLATFORM Set
16. Join In
17. Connect With Others
18. Volunteer Up
19. Teach to Learn
20. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
21. Make an Appearance
22. Host Something
23. Get Articles in Print
24. Offer a Service
Part Three: PLATFORM Grow
25. Name Game
26. Identity Quest
28. Sign Off With Style
29. Build a Bio
30. Mission: Possible
31. Be Camera Friendly
32. Tally Up Testimonials
33. Broadcast Your Blog
34. Hang Your Web Shingle
35. Relay the Latest News
36. One-Page It All
Afterword: An Inside Job
What’s Your Platform?
Have you ever noticed that there are an awful lot of books out there offering up a thousand and one ways to market your first book, only to let you know—by the way—that you really should have started promoting your book a long time ago … like before you even pitched it to agents and editors?
Until now, the focus of marketing books for writers was on authorship. I find this kind of cart-before-the-horse talk to be frustrating. What if you’re not an author yet? What if you don’t even know what your platform is? Isn’t that what you need help figuring out first? Where is the book that tells you, “To cultivate a successful writing career, you need to start from wherever you are today and develop self-promotion skills that are not only fun but that will ensure the success of your first and future books.”
That’s the book I would have liked to read before I wrote my first book, so that’s the book I decided to write. Promoting a book at the time of publication is a sprint—to capitalize on the newness of the book—and a marathon—to keep that book in print. So, if you aren’t already in book-promotion shape before your first book comes out, you’ll be hard pressed to juggle the immediate and long-term needs of promoting your book. And then you probably won’t be too interested in promoting a book again.
So begin with the end in mind. But for goodness sake, take your time on platform development. Before you are in a position to even land a book deal, you need to construct a platform that will build your future book’s readership, project your professionalism, and attract the interest of agents and editors. Your future book’s platform—the one you will discover or revive by reading this book—needs to be authentic, organic, and sustainable. Authors always have to hustle to keep up with multiple demands on their time, but with a little platform development now you won’t have to scramble in the future. And you will be less likely to burn out along the way (burnout is more common than you may know). Your writing career isn’t just about landing one book deal and then scrambling like crazy so folks will hear about your book, and then scrambling to get a second book deal, and so on. No. There is a more strategic and steady way to lay the groundwork so you can avoid scrambling altogether.
How This Book Can Help
Platform development is an inside job. Despite what you may read online about how you can slap one together lickety-split, resist the temptation to do just that. The same goes for the latest online trends everyone is rushing to get in on. You’ll get to them. But first comes platform planning. No matter what genres you choose to work in throughout the course of your writing career, to navigate the choppy waters that lie between writer and book author, you need a book that demystifies the entire platform-building process step-by-step, so you not only understand what you need to do, but why you need to do it.
This is a book that:
- shows you that integrity, not image, is the new touchstone for emerging authors, who don’t want to come across as cheesy salespeople
- encourages you to look at writing and self-promotion skills as naturally interconnected so you can overcome your resistance and get started today
- empowers you to plant and grow a sustainable platform so you don’t end up a one-book wonder
- describes how getting known is a gradual process and not an overnight phenomenon, so you can pace yourself and avoid burnout
- teaches you to align simple self-promotion techniques with your integrity so you won’t feel like a shameless braggart or a desperate huckster
- shows how a writer of any personality—introvert or extrovert—can become successful
- demonstrates how fun and satisfying it is to market yourself using tools and techniques anyone can master, instead of waiting to be discovered
- helps you realize that platform isn’t about paying others gobs of money so that you can read about all of their “insider secrets” for getting known
- shows you not only how to preserve the money you currently make, but also how to expand and deepen future revenue streams so you can keep writing
- moves you into position to partner equally with editors, agents, and publishing insiders, so you can land the book deal and be as effective as possible in every aspect of your book’s development and production
This book assumes you already work hard as a writer, juggling deadlines and wearing all the hats any entrepreneur must. And, if you read my book Writer Mama, it’s likely that you are trying to do all of this and run a household at the same time! No matter who you are, I know one thing for sure: You are already plenty busy and you could probably use more of the two things every self-employed person needs—income and time off.
I want to emphasize that getting known isn’t just about cramming tons more work onto your already crowded to-do list. Getting known is fun and makes your literary efforts more fruitful. You won’t stop writing or selling your current work. You will simply add incremental, targeted self-promotion into the equation.
And if you are not already a working writer, that’s okay. Simply work your way through this book until you’ve brainstormed your platform, and get ready to roll it out over time. Will you be ready to quit your day job at that point? I can’t say. But once you launch a thoroughly thought-out platform, don’t be surprised if things take off fairly quickly, especially if you already have the creds to back up your platform. There are a lot of folks in what I call “the platform closet” simply because they resist this aspect of their career. If you are one of these folks you won’t have an excuse much longer, now that you have a book that defines platform, breaks the platform-development process down, and walks you through it step by step.
Small Steps Add Up
What I’ve learned from my adventures in getting known is that it isn’t something that happens to you. Rather, it’s the accumulation of many small steps over time. You can grow into author status, beginning today, even if you have to start from scratch. I’ve laid it all out for you chapter by chapter, so you can tackle a manageable amount each day—while you continue to work on your writing craft, productivity, and marketability, of course. And if you’ve already started to grow a platform and you are looking to fill in the gaps, choose the part of the book that will direct you to the next most important step to take.
The goal of this book is to help you answer the question: “What’s your platform?” and to answer it with clarity, confidence, and ease. So, take the time to identify and leverage your personal strengths into a solid author platform. Everyone is in a rush today, but some things can’t and shouldn’t be hurried. Give platform development its due and you’ll build your writing career on solid ground. Part one will help you get ready, part two will help you get set, and by the time you get to part three, you’ll probably notice that your platform has started to grow. By the time you’re done with this book, you’ll have the author-worthy platform blueprint you need to back up your book-pitching efforts, and clinch the book deal. That same plan will be the foundation for your future book’s sales, and will carry you all the way through to book two.
And when you are ready for book two, come back and review the steps again, because you’ll need a clearly defined platform for your next book and your next and your next. Because, of course, your platforms will evolve alongside your writing career, just as they should.
Good luck getting known! I hope you’ll keep me posted on how it goes and share your success stories with others along the way. Come by the Get Known blog, sign up for the free monthly newsletter, and say hello at: www.getknownbeforethebookdeal.typepad.com.
See platform concepts that hum with authenticity and show book-deal potential or success at www.getknownbeforethebookdeal.com.