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It’s all about the platform.

This weekend I attended a conference sponsored by Hay House. (They’re a publishing company.) The first session I attended was by and for writers presented by best selling author Cheryl Richardson and Hay House CEO Reid Tracy.

Every third point was about platform. Possibly every second point. So they are very, very serious about it. Particularly Reid Tracy. He said that when they get a book proposal at Hay House, the first thing they do is read the query letter where you tell them about the idea for your book. If that is at all interesting, the very next thing they do is look at your platform.

So what is the platform?

Your marketing. What have you done. What will you do. Who is your audience and how are you going to reach them. How many of them have you already reached? How do you stay in touch. Do you have a blog? How many followers.

I had no idea that this was the critical turning point that could make or break your book. Apparently, it is. I highly doubt that Reid Tracy is alone on this in the industry.

So what do you need to do? You need to find your people.

Start a Facebook page. Not just your personal account, but a page for your book, or your interest, or yourself as an author or subject matter expert. Use this page to start collecting people who are interested in what you have to say.

Start a blog. Blogs are a way to share your subject matter expertise, ideas, questions, and to reach the people who are interested in what you have to say without them having to invest too much into accessing your message. If you can build a following for your blog, then you’ll already have reached the people who will then want to read your book.

Collect a database. If you offer a newsletter, or if you have a piece of information you’ve written into an e-Book (or if you can think of one that would be interesting) then send it to people via email. Once you have their email addresses, then you can inform them when something new happens. Like the upcoming release of your new book. There are a lot of rules and regulations and guidelines about emails. That’s another topic. Go with a reliable provider like AWebber or MailChimp, they have all the rules worked out so you can follow them.

Buy domains. If you’re going to be a brand then owning the domain that goes with it is a good idea. If the one you really want isn’t available, figure out some permutations that make sense. Try to own the domain for any book titles you’re working with. You can always relinquish or sell them later, it isn’t that big an expense.

Build a website. If you have a subject matter expertise then maybe you have a website devoted to that long before you put your book together. Or if you have a business website, add a section about your interest/cause that your clients and friends can start connecting to.

Answer emails and comments. If people are  taking the time to reach out to you (and they aren’t being ugly about it) then you have given them something they wanted and you have become someone they admire at some level. When they reach out to you, reach back. Maintain those connections.

Reid Tracy highly recommended the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. I haven’t read it yet, since I’m currently in the middle of 3 other books, but I have downloaded the kindle version so I’m all set as soon as I finish one of the others in progress. It was just published in May so the details should all be very relevant and Reid said the instructions he lists are extremely detailed and easy to follow.

One question that came up during the session is, shouldn’t I wait and do all this when the book is done and being published? Absolutely not. If you want to go  the traditional route, then without it, you might never be published at all. If you self publish, getting noticed will take that much longer.

And even in our 24/7 media hype twitter fueled world, it still takes a suspiciously long time to become an overnight success. Start reaching out now with what you have. They’ll notice when you have more.

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