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What's a "Platform" and Why Does an Writer Need One?   by Nina Amir


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Today, most book publishers require that writers take on most of the promotional and marketing duties necessary to sell their books. However, to accomplish this job, nonfiction writers in particular have to begin promoting and marketing their books long before they hold the bound tome in their hands. They have to begin building what the industry calls a "platform," a base of potential readers that know them as an expert in their field or on their subject from their speaking, writing and presence on the radio, television and Internet.

Expert platforms consist of:

1.) numerous appearances on radio and Internet talk shows and television talk and news shows; 2.) frequent quest blogs or a popular blog of your own; 3.) a well-know presence in on-line forums and social networks; 4.) popular videos or pod casts ; 5.) frequent interviews on other peoples' pod casts ; 6.) your own Internet, radio or television show; 7.) a multitude of published articles or books in both print and Internet publications; 8.) an extremely-large mailing list; and 9.) frequent talks and presentations given to small, medium and large groups.

Expert platforms are built by getting interviewed by radio and Internet show hosts, by appearing on television talk and news programs and by speaking at events and for organizations related to the subject matter upon which you write. Platforms also are built by writing articles for specialty and mass-market publications and for e-zines, as well as by blogging, participating in on-line forums, social networking, and using such on-line technology as posting podcasts and videos. Creating a large mailing list of devoted readers interested in your work also contributes to building a platform.

Although the fastest way to build an expert platform lies in landing television and radio interviews, the media sometimes requires nonfiction writers to be perceived as experts before they can be featured on news or talk shows. This often means already having a published book in hand. Becoming an expert speaker represents the second fastest way to build an expert platform, but many writers would rather write than speak and, again, having a published book helps achieve expert status.

If this reminds you a bit of the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, you aren't alone. Many a nonfiction writer has felt frustrated by the need to have a published book to build an expert platform and the publishing industry's need for authors to be experts before they will publish their books.

So, how does an aspiring nonfiction author achieve expert status prior to having a published book? By building a platform one article at a time.

For nonfiction writers, writing loads of articles for specialty and mass-market magazines and newspapers and for e-zines provides an infinitely-easier method of platform building than any of the others. Even if you aren't a journalist per se, if you can write a chapter in a nonfiction book, you can write an article. As these are published, you begin to achieve expert status. You will find yourself also asked to speak for organizations and at events, to be interviewed by podcasters, and to appear on radio and television shows. As a result, you will end up with a platform large enough to please any publisher large or small. Add to that a great book idea and some great writing skills, and you'll soon have a published book.

While publishing articles in traditional print publications is advisable and encouraged, and magazines and newspapers carry a lot of clout, when it comes to platform building, the easiest way to start building your platform involves writing and publishing articles for on-line publications. Many print publications have on-line versions that offer different content, but e-zines, newsletter or magazines that publish only on the Internet, often are looking for free content to fill their pages.

It's easy enough to do a Google or Yahoo search for e-zines on the subject of the book you plan to write and to then submit articles to the e-zines you find. You can even submit excerpts from your chapters; this provides you with a source of articles you don't have to write from scratch, and you might even be allowed to say they are excerpts, which would promote your book further. Targeted e-zines provide your best promotional article tool on-line, since they have a built-in audience interested in your subject. Sometimes these publications might even pay you for your submissions, but they always give you a by-line and usually will give you a short biography with a link to your web site.

You can usually submit articles to e-zines for free; however, doing so can be quite time consuming if you want to submit to very many. Therefore, in addition to submitting to specific e-zines that hit your target market, it behooves you to find an article directory to which you can submit your work as well. These directories provide free content to hundreds of different e-zines looking for articles to fill their pages. In addition, all of them will allow you to provide a "resource box" in which you can direct them to your web site and mention your upcoming book. Additionally, they will all allow you to post a bio of yourself, in which you can tell everyone about your expert status.

The easiest and least time-consuming method for getting your articles in the most e-zines, though, involves paying for an article distribution service. For a nominal fee, these companies will allow you to submit your article and will then submit that article to other article directories and e-zines for you. In this manner, your articles or news release gets the most exposure and may end up in any number of e-zines. Actually, it's quite amazing where articles land when you let the editors of all types of e-zines pick and choose their content from these directories.

About the Author

Nina Amir, a journalist, nonfiction editor, and author has written three booklets, hundreds of articles and five anthology essays. Currently, she is writing several books while building her own platform. Her e-book, Using the Internet to Build Your Platform One Article at a Time, is available at . For information on her platform and writing teleseminars, visit .