Your "Author Platform"
Comics blows my mind sometimes. It's this medium and this industry that involves a whole bunch of elements of other industries: Book publishing, periodical publishing, script writing, pencilled/inked/colored/painted art, cinematography. But it tends to be super insular. I pick up a book defining various camera angles and giving examples of what they're like and what the excepted uses for them in creating a dramatic effect are, and I go "This is great!" And then I can't use them, because lots of artists don't know what I'm talking about if I do.
This week's example... the term "Author Platform" in book publishing. All of us in comics deal with it and worry about it... but I never hear anybody talking about it by name, or talking about all the books and resources out there to help build yours.
One description of Author Platform:
Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author.
The definition of platform, broken down, is your personal ability to sell books through:
- Who you are
- The personal and professional connections you have
- Any media outlets (including blogs and social networks) that you can utilize to sell books
The Building Blocks of a Platform
The most common building blocks of a platform include the following:
- A website and/or blog with a large readership
- An e-newsletter and/or mailing list with a large number of subscribers/recipients
- Article/column writing (or correspondent involvement) for the media—preferably for larger outlets and outlets within the writer’s specialty
- Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals
- A track record of strong past book sales
- Individuals of influence that you know—personal contacts (organizational, media, celebrity, relatives) who can help you market at no cost to yourself, whether through blurbs, promotion, or other means
- Public speaking appearances—the bigger, the better
- An impressive social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, and the like)
- Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
- Recurring media appearances and interviews—in print, on the radio, on TV, or online
Not all of these methods will be of interest/relevance to you. As you learn more about how to find success in each one, some will jump out as practical and feasible, while others will not. My advice is to choose a few and dive in deep—and don’t be afraid to concede failure in one area, then shift gears and plunge into something else. It’s better to show impressive success in some areas than minimal success in all.
Lastly, know that building a platform takes time. Strive for something real—strong channels that will help you sell. Simply being on Twitter and having a website does not mean you have a platform. Those are just the first steps.
Like I said — we all know what that is. I just haven't seen anybody in the industry speaking in these terms.
So, let's speak in those terms. What's your platform like right now? (Artists, this goes for you too — you're authors.) What elements have you used to build your platform to the point it's at now, and what elements are you hoping to use in the future?
Also, let's talk platforms in general. Of the things listed above, the one that's less common in comics than in traditional publishing is public speaking — though lots of us do it on panels at cons and some of us (like Russell) do things like library talks. Another element that's more common in comics than in traditional publishing is signings and in-person appearances, such as tabling at cons. Are there other things that are getting left out from that list?