It’s that time again. Time to drive ourselves mad writing a staggering (and surprisingly attainable) 50,000 words in a month for #NaNoWriMo, or if you’re writing nonfiction, #NaNonFiWriMo! It’s a veritable first-draft-a-palooza!

Each year, in celebration, we release a new guide to help you with a unique part of the writing or publishing process. This year, #NaNonFiWriMo founder and 11-time Amazon bestselling author, Nina Amir, has enlisted 10 experts to give you a primer on perhaps the most important part of successfully publishing non-fiction books: platform.

THE WRITE NONFICTION NOW! GUIDE TO BUILDING AUTHOR PLATFORM demystifies platform and offers strategies for achieving the type of presence that helps you sell books. Here’s some of what is covered:

  • What author platform is and why it is so important to agents and publishers
  • How to build your platform on websites, with mailing lists, on social media, with public speaking, using publicity tools, and by making the most of your writing
  • Media kit instructions and PR tips
  • How to know that your platform is big enough
  • The 18-point platform checklist
  • Tips for reluctant platform builders

We have a special bonus planned for our Fuse Lit newsletter subscribers, and the rest of you can enjoy this excerpt, the 1st of the 37 chapters in the guide:

What Is an Author Platform?

By: Nina Amir

Most writers have one issue in common: They have not built an author platform.

In my book, The Author Training Manual, I defined author platform from this way: Platform is visibility, authority, and engagement with your book’s target audience that gives you influence in that market. It’s all the people who know and love you and your work who are ready and waiting to buy your book when it is released.

Others have defined platform in different terms. For instance, Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform, states that “a platform is your visibility as an author” and “your personal ability to sell books right this instant.”

Michael Hyatt, author of the bestselling Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, defines it as “the thing you have to stand on to be heard.” He elaborates by saying this stage “is built of people” and “is the means by which you connect with existing and potential fans.” In an interview in Publisher’s Weekly in May 2012, Hyatt, said, “Until about six years ago, having a platform meant having a radio or TV show, a newspaper or magazine column, a bestselling book, or celebrity status. Today, a platform is about leading a tribe of engaged followers.”

The word “tribe” was popularized by Seth Godin, in his book Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us, when he introduced the concept of creating a group of engaged followers to lead. He says you don’t create a tribe overnight but by beginning several years prior to your book being released.

I like the definition provided by Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest (F+W Media). She says agents and editors are “looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.”

Maybe you aren’t familiar with terms like “visibility,” “reach,” “authority,” and “influence.” To help you understand platform a bit better, here’s an excerpt from The Author Training Manual, in which I explain these terms and how they work when it comes to building platform in general:

Visibility: You do and say things that make you visible, such as speaking, getting published in online and traditional publications, appearing on radio and television, using social media, including social networks, blogging, podcasting, etc. This helps people get to know you and your work as well as to trust and like you. They become your fans, followers, peeps, and subscribers. They become part of a community, or tribe, you create or attract around you.

Reach: What you do and say gets shared or talked about. People mention you in social or traditional media. Your posts and status updates get tweeted, liked, +1’d. Thus, the ability you have to contact or touch people extends farther than your current location or circle of acquaintances and beyond the bounds of your immediate community.

Authority: Your credentials and expertise give you authority in your field. Coupled with your visibility and reach, you become influential.

Influence: You gain an ability to engage and impact others. They sign up for your mailing list, subscribe to your blog, follow you on social networks, take up your causes, listen to what you say, believe in you and what you say or write, and do what you ask.

Simply said, author platform is a built-in readership in your target market for you book. Everything you do to create visibility, reach, authority, and influence in your book’s target market equates to a platform-building activity, including speaking, blogging, writing for publications, social networking, and writing many books.

Platform can be measured by determining how many people in your target market you potentially can sell your book to right now. Calculate the size of your platform by adding up the number of people who:

  • Follow you on social media sites
  • Have heard you speak publically
  • Subscribe to your blog, YouTube channel, or podcast
  • Visit your website
  • Join your mailing list
  • Read your published work
  • Seen or heard you on radio or television show
  • Share or like what you publish online

An author platform can be defined as how many people know and associate you and your name with something of value to them. It’s the visibility you have because of who you are and what you do, the connections you have made in your personal and professional life, and all the social and traditional media in which you are or ever have been involved. Additionally, it’s the reach you have—how far what you do, say or write travels.

Creating author platform involves gathering a community of people around you that are interested in what you do and what you know. Through your platform building activities, you become visible to and able to reach your book’s target market. If the people in your target market, your potential readers, see you as having expert status or authority and engage with you at a high level, thus giving you influence in that market, you will have a greater ability to sell books to them.

You may have heard that your readers or followers need to know, like, and trust you. That’s true. And building platform gives you the know-like-trust factor with your target audience.

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If you liked that, you’re in luck. THE WRITE NONFICTION NOW! GUIDE TO BUILDING AUTHOR PLATFORM is on sale throughout November for $1.99 on Amazon before going up to its normal price. And to further help you in your #NaNoWriMo and #NaNonFiWriMo efforts, the rest of the guides in the series will be 99¢ for all of November. These guides inform and motivate authors, businesspeople, and even non-writers to use their purpose and passion to create desirable and publishable products, and we’re looking to give you a boost during this hectic month (so hopefully we can get some amazing submissions later).

Here’s the link for the ebook, and if you want more tips, check out WriteNonfictionNow.com and follow The Inspiration to Creation Coach herself at @NinaAmir.

Write Nonfiction NOW, and Achieve More Inspired Results!