Everybody hates talking about platform. We get it. We do too. But the reality of publishing today is you have to be building one. For reasons we'll tackle in a later post, the ability of a publisher to "make" a bestseller has diminished. The unfortunate reality is that most books are sold to the author's audience. The platform section is where you describe how you intend to reach an audience with your message.
Your starting place is your own, actual platform. How many Facebook fans and friends do you have? How many Twitter followers do you have? How many Instagram followers do you have? Do you have an e-newsletter, and if so, how many subscribers? Started a podcast? How many downloads are you averaging? Do you speak? How often? What size crowds? Basically, you want to describe in detail every point of contact you have with your audience.
To take this a little further, you should also drill down into audience engagement. What is the typical ratio of engagement with the things you share? Do some analysis into how engaged your audience is with your content. What's the open rate on your e-newsletter? What's the percentage of likes and retweets you receive on average per tweet? How many likes and reposts do you receive on your Instagram posts? A small following with significant engagement is far more valuable than a massive following with no engagement.
Next you want to provide information about the networks of influence you have access to. This is not a place to list every person you wish you could reach, or you hope will lend support. This is supposed to be the list of people you can count on. Provide their name, organization if applicable, and their specific reach.
Finally, where else have you written? Have you published previous books? Which books, what year, what publisher, and how many sales? Have you contributed articles? To what outlets? Have you written a chapter in another book? Which book and chapter. List your prior publishing here.
The tendency here is to be modest, or to downplay your actual reach. Don't. You want to be as detailed and specific as possible. This is your chance to convince an agent or publisher that you actually can bring an audience to your idea.
Have a question for our Ask An Agent series? You can submit it here.