It goes without saying that "platform" is one of the most important elements we need as an author. It is a necessary component to get the attention of a publisher, to get your book sold, to get your message out.
So what if your platform is small to non-existent?
Then borrow someone else's!
Here are five tips on how to piggyback your efforts to increase your audience utilizing the platform someone else has created.
Take what you have to offer and find another business, ministry or established author that has a similar message where you can help each other and make them an offer.
Here's one example. When I was working on "Four Secrets to a Forever Marriage" which I co-authored last year, I wanted to see if we could establish a partnership with a contemporary Christian musician and expand our audience. I started by looking for someone with celebrity status that had a wedding song or love song coming out.
We reached out to a well-known artist that lived in our same city. Why? It was a chance for a face-to-face meeting. Unfortunately after contacting her publicist (which we googled the info) we learned that she had just gone through a divorce. Well that wasn't going to be a good connection for a marriage book! But after we pitched our idea of the marketing partnership to the publicist, she let us know that Brandon Heath, also one of her artists, had a brand-new single coming out the same month as our book. "Would you be interested in working with him?" she asked.
It was about a two month process that required approvals on multiple levels. The publicist approved it. She sent it to Brandon. He loved the idea.
What was the idea you ask? We offered to promote his new song (with a picture and marketing copy) along with our book in all our marketing efforts---with the caveat that everyone who bought a book on our launch day could download a free copy of his new single. (We were doing paid advertising, so he would receive the benefit of our dollars.)
After the publicist approved it and Brandon approved it, our offer still went through a couple of other approval levels until it reached the artist's label. Unfortunately that's where we hit a hiccup. BUT the point is, we did establish a relationship with Brandon and his publicist. Although the idea didn't work on that particular launch, it might work for something else.
Don't forget to work on endorsements as you are working on the book-especially toward the latter part of completion. Endorsements usually take about three to four months to secure. The bigger the name, the longer it usually takes. They are called influencers for a reason.
You don't have to have relationship to make this happen. I love the courage I saw in a proposal that crossed my desk last year. The author-who is not yet a recognized name-had some pretty impressive endorsements on his book: Mark Batterson, Philip Yancy and Eugene Peterson. It certainly got my attention. I assumed there must have been some relationship involved to have obtained those high level endorsers. I was wrong.
"A publisher told me it couldn't be done, and so I took that as a challenge," the author told me. Pretty impressive. He targeted names that he felt would appreciate his message and started trying to make contact. He started with nothing. No email address. No contact name. Nothing. And ended up with three pretty impressive endorsements. The point is don't be afraid to try.
Borrowing the platform of an online e-zine is a great way to build your audience by borrowing someone else's. E-zines are like a growing teen. They have to be fed and constantly. Consider that most e-zines post five to seven days a week. That means they are in constant need of quality content. That's where you have an opportunity. It's a quick way to get published.
Don't forget to take the time to read through several articles they have posted and get a feel for their style and audience. Then position your article accordingly. Some e-zines to consider if you can make your article about current events for a Christian audience include: "The Christian Post," "World Net Daily," "Crosswalk.com," "CBN.com" and many more. Most of these boast of audiences of a million views a month. Now that's a platform you can use.
4. Expert Status
Establish yourself as an "expert" in your field. Not long ago I watched a minister do this as he contacted magazines with articles he had written as an expert on China. The only problem was, he had only worked in China about a year or two at that point and yet crafted articles as if he had worked there for twenty....and they bought it.
Now because he wasn't yet an expert in that field, his articles revealed that fact and had numerous errors. So let me also state, please don't try to establish yourself as an expert where you are not an expert. Write about areas where you really do know your stuff and editors will come back to you for information again when they need a good quote or statistic.
Tip: Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Here's how.
5. Guest Blogging
Offer to blog for another blogger that has an audience that will appreciate your material. In exchange you can offer to allow them to write and post on your blog. For those that blog 3-5 times a week, it takes time. Significant time. So the ability to take a break but still post good quality content can be very attractive.
Start by developing a relationship with the blogger. Get to know what they are passionate about. Interact with them on their posts and let them know who you are. Then try approaching them with an exchange offer.
There are other ways to build your platform, which I hope you are doing. We can discuss that more in upcoming blogs on developing your list, your superfans and your platform.
If "The Marketing Mix" has helped you in your writing endeavors, let me know.
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