Rona Gofstein and Mellisa Sherlin are best-selling authors who write but also understand the business of writing. Founders of the Writers Business School, the two are book whisperers of sorts. They teach authors about the business of books. In this column, Ask the Book Whisperers: Business Tips for Authors, Rona and Mellisa answer questions or address topics that authors, especially indie or self-published authors, often ask as they go about coaxing their books to sell. Sometimes these book whisperers answer questions that an author might have asked if they only knew to ask it. If you have a book business question for Rona and Mellisa, you can drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Book Whispers” in the subject line.
In this month’s column, we ask Mellisa and Rona:
You’ve mentioned that having a “platform” is a critical part of book sales. What do you mean by “platform”?
What if there were one tool that could help you improve your book sales, name recognition, and reader attention? Would you want it?
What if using that tool meant you never had to feel like you were “selling” your book again. Would you use it?
That tool is platform.
Have you seen the animated film Rise of the Guardians? One of the most important aspects of the film is Jack Frost finding out what is at his core, what his greatest strength it. To learn about your platform, you need to go through the process of opening up the nesting dolls of your interests, passions, and knowledge to find what is at your center, because that center can not only guide you – it can naturally help you build your business.
At the Writers Business School, we describe platform as the core of you as a person and a writer. It is not something new, but it may be something you need to uncover. It is the focus of all your clearest decisions, commitments and deeply held beliefs – whether you are aware of it or not. In fact, it has been guiding your writing, your dreams, your professional career, even perhaps your wardrobe, for years.
When you know your platform you can learn and become very clear about your:
• Core Audience
• Tagline and Logo
• Social Media Plan
• Blog Topics
And although there is a lot of information out there, when we discuss platform, we are talking about an idea or interest. Don’t get fooled into thinking your platform is:
• Your social media and internet presence
• Your brand
It’s not. Your platform informs all of these and can give you the clarity to determine what these aspects of your business are or should be. It allows you to create more engaging social media posts, decide where you want to advertise and guide you to years of blog topics.
Platform is related to purpose – what you stand for, care most about, and/or the change you want to see in the world.
Sounds a little beauty pageant contestant?
Well, they do know their platform. So yes, world peace can be part of your platform, but your platform is more personal than that to you. From world peace, you need to take a step deeper and discover and decided the specifics of how you most believe you can contribute to and help achieve world peace.
For example – what do you think would lead to world peace?
• Taking risks?
Maybe you write horror because you believe in the power of facing and going through your fears. Or you think knowledge makes you stronger. These are the beginnings of your platform.
For those of you familiar with the Divergent series of books – the factions are platforms. This is why in our free download (containing questions that you can ask yourself to uncover your platform), the first question we ask you is: “What do you think the world needs more of?”
The good news about platform is that it comes from you and can be about anything. Your platform can be action movies and fast food if those are the things that really mean something to you. How many people like those two things? Millions, right? Of those millions – how many do you think would read the books you write? A smaller number, but still a very big one. When you know what your platform is, you can reach these people who are always looking for more information on action movies and fast food. They’ll get to know you, there will be a connection and from that connection – sales, readers, and name recognition will naturally follow.
The dictionary definition of platform is a raised, level surface on which people or things can stand. Platform is the strong level surface on which you can build your writing career.
Platform is used when you:
• Develop your brand, create a marketing strategy and initiate a social media plan
• Determine where to spend your time when selecting conferences, blog tour sites, and building your business
• Connect with your core audience and reach out to new readers
• Create your print products – business cards, swag, and more
• Work on the pieces of your book launch
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Meet the Book Whisperers:
Mellisa Sherlin enjoys taking her big yellow lab to the beach on dreary days and getting lost on road trips. She is an internationally award-winning and best-selling author with over 30 years of publishing credits to her name. Completing her MBA in Marketing in 2013, she co-founded the Writers Business School. Mellisa is currently the president of the Essex Writers and Artisans Guild of Massachusetts, which has been meeting weekly since 1991. She can be found making illegal U-turns on rural roads and Facebook.
Rona Gofstein loves chocolate, her morning cup of coffee, and retail therapy. She is a best-selling romance novelist (as Rachel Kenley), workshop leader on finding your heart’s desire, and co-founder of the Writers Business School. When she is not writing she is homeschooling her sons, trying unsuccessfully to keep up with laundry, and laughing as much as possible. She can be found in her studio at Western Avenue and (perhaps a little too much) on Facebook.
To learn a bit more about Mellisa and Rona and the Writers Business School, you may also read their interview with us on Inkspokes. Thanks for stopping by!