The publishing world has changed dramatically over the last decade. No longer can you simply present an agent or a publisher with a good idea and good writing and expect to get a contract in return. You must prove that you already have people ready and waiting to purchase your book as soon as it is released. In other words, you have built a platform of prospective readers.
As I’ve mentioned before, platform equates to how many people you know or who know you who potentially will buy your book. These people can be followers on Facebook, tweeple on Twitter, blog subscribers, newsletter subscribers, podcast listeners, people reached via magazines, e-zines and on-line publications for which you write, attendees at your talks and workshops, publicity partners, and on-line and offline association memberships. You build a platform through speaking, writing, social media, networking, media gigs, etc. And you must build platform before they will come–“they” meaning agents and publishers.
In today’s publishing world the most important parts of a nonfiction book proposal are the Promotion section and the “Platform” section. Both show the publisher you will help sell your book. They want a business partner, not just a writer.
Why do you, a blogger care about platform? First, if you want your blog to be discovered and turned into a book by a publishing house, you need blog readers. Blog readers=platform (if enough of them exist). Second, if you would like to write another traditional book, or you plan on expanding your blogged book into a longer and more in-depth print version, then your blog serves as a way to promote that book and to build platform (i.e. potential buyers).
Either way, the more you build platform via guest blog posts on other blogs, articles published on your topic, news releases, press releases, media appearances, etc., the more readers will show up at your blog. All of these efforts become platform elements.
The Platform section of your nonfiction book proposal—if you were to write one—would include a list of all the things you have done to date to develop a platform. It would include statistics, such as how many unique visitors visit your blog each day, how many places you have spoken, where you have appeared as a guest blogger, and how many upcoming media appearances you have scheduled
Even if you don’t write the actual proposal, it’s a great idea to write your platform-building activities down, so you remember what you’ve done and keep track of your blog’s statistics to see if your readership is growing. Also, keep working on building your platform; don’t let a month go by when you don’t have some type of platform-building activity scheduled.
By the way, the platform section of a proposal can make or break an aspiring author’s chance of getting a publishing deal. It’s that important. As for having your blog discovered, don’t think the exposure you get for your blogged book via platform-building activities won’t be taking into consideration by an agent or acquisitions editor trolling around the Internet.
At this point, I’ve covered all the sections included in the Introduction of a nonfiction proposal. Next, we move on to the “Outline.”