The what, why, and how of an author promotional platform
All textbook, book, and monograph authors need a platform to help sell their idea to a publisher and their work to buyers and readers. Gone are the days that an author can ignore marketing.
What is an author promotional platform? Why should you care? How do you create one? And how do you keep it going? These are the central questions answered by publishing consultant John Bond during his 2021 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation.
What is an author promotional platform?
According to Bond, the author is the person who is best positioned to communicate the central message of the project to potential buyers. He identifies the author promotional platform as “more than just marketing activities” but rather a bigger message for which this project is one small part in the career of the author.
This includes marketing elements like:
- Social media promotions,
- Author website,
- Guest engagements (blogs, podcasts, video channels, etc.),
- Speaking engagements, and
As an author you have additional opportunities to connect with your readers. The key is to be part of the conversation about the subject matter of your content. This can be dialog with colleagues, not necessarily marketing pitches to potential readers.
Together, the marketing efforts and the additional conversations with those in your field make up your author promotional platform.
Why should you care?
An author promotional platform goes beyond the marketing of a specific project. Bond says, “you have to be in it for the long term” and offers several reasons why you should care, as follows:
- It supports your career goals,
- It ties all parts of your professional life together,
- It shows a publisher that you are a leader and a big picture person,
- It becomes your digital bio,
- It helps you find people of like mind who may be future collaborators, and
- It serves as the starting point for all promotional efforts of your work
Adding your author promotional platform to a book proposal “lets publishers know that you’re thinking big by doing this”. He adds that once you do the up-front work to create your platform, you only need to keep it updated moving forward.
How do you create one?
Find the one social media channel that contains the most dialogue in your field. Choose one and do it well. The goal is to connect with people, not promote to people. Engage in the conversation about your subject matter in a way that gets people to pay attention and follow you on the channel.
Find opportunities to write guest articles for blogs, serve as a guest on a podcast episode, or find speaking engagements where you can be identified as an expert in your discipline.
Don’t forget the people with whom you have already connected with throughout your career. Reach out to your contacts through personal email or text messages to share the existence of your work. Where appropriate, seek endorsements from those who read your work.
Promote yourself and your work through related stories in the media, academic social networks, and book reviews. Connect with college faculty in your field through organizational membership or direct outreach to strengthen your platform and spread the word.
Finally, use the power of your institution or association to connect with their public relations or marketing team to help promote your work when available.
How do you keep it going?
Start early so that the platform is well-developed and in place when the book is released. Update your channels and content when new work is forthcoming.
Make it easy on yourself and build a stronger brand for your work by making the efforts uniform across the platform. Add your personality into the brand – you as the author are your own platform.
In closing Bond adds, “Excitement and energy and genuineness gets the job done!”
This article was adapted from John Bond’s session titled “Creating an Author Promotional Platform: What, Why, and How To” delivered during the 2021 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference.