4 Vices Any Author Must Lose in Order to Build Their Platform
Vices are evil. They used to be called sins. Most authors have them. And if you don’t have a platform, you probably are practicing more than one of these.
The trick to platform building is to know what one is. The traditional publishers don’t really define it. Neither do most of the courses you get online and the many, many books available on Amazon and elsewhere.
My recent studies pointed to Dan Grahl who was closest. But even he missed on a point that he’s had no real experience with. We can figure out what an author platform is when we discover the vices that keep yours from showing up.
Vices That Suppress Author Platforms
Pride (Are you networking?)
Anyone who lives on this planet has people around them who form their network. Of course, family. Work associates. People you deal with regularly, such as at the grocer, your favorite bookstore, local stores you visit regularly.
How do you treat these people? Are you interested in their lives, how they are making their way through life? How much do you know of their journey, their trials and tribulations?
Having a network is a way some first-time authors sell their books, all by themselves. They ask their network to help them get their book into the hands of the people they know to see if such a book would be of use to them. Like any “good old boys” network, then they can find people who would want a copy or several copies that they can then give (or sell) to their network.
Affiliate marketing is a type of network, as is any Network Marketing setup. Robert Kiyosaki found that Amway was fascinated with his “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and pushed this to all their associates. The result was a further huge boom in sales.
If you are too proud, then you cut your potential network to a minimum. Be interested, reach out, involve your network in your book and your writing and you’ll find they are as fascinated as you are fascinated in their projects and activities.
Pride goes before a fall, it’s said. Honest interest, and work on growing your network, will help you produce and sell your books more easily. “Many hands make light work.”
Vanity (Who is your audience?)
There are a lot of self-centered approaches to building an audience and getting a list of emails to contact them. Audiences aren’t too much different than networks, as they are composed of people. The better you treat them, the better they will treat you.
You wouldn’t know this from some of the emails people send out. Probably like you, I keep a few of these around just to remind me how to stay humble. These guys send mails which are all about one subject: me, me, me. It’s always their product, their next book, their podcast. And they seem to think that the only thing you want to do is to take advantage of an expiring offer.
But whose emails do you open regularly? The ones which send you helpful data all the time, and not just offer after offer after offer. (Interestingly enough, they are usually the ones who answer your email directly.)
Sure, there are between 1 and 3% of all people who will buy from any offer you send out. But email is more effective than other sales lines for one reason: the relationship you build with them.
The other point to an audience is the collection of people who read your books. Sure, it would be great to have these people on your list, but more frequently than not, they aren’t. This is where social media like Twitter, Facebook, and others come in. Social media doesn’t build audience. Social media doesn’t make book sales. In fact, other than being a total time suck, there’s really no one model that explains what its for at all, except one: entertainment. (Of course the one exception is Facebook Ads, as they’ve collected so much information on people to be scary, and can drop an ad into your newsfeed almost tailor-made for you. Mark Dawson tells the story of a student at college who paid to have ads sent to an obnoxious room-mate and no one else. Scary.)
Greed (What’s your vision?)
If you think you are going to get rich from writing and publishing books, you may be living in an alternate universe. Here’s some approximate statistics:
- 70% of all people want to write a book.
- 10% of those will.
- 10% of those will get published.
- 250 copies is the amount of books sold the first year.
- $9,000 is the average lifetime pay out for any single book.
- Around 6 million ebooks are available on Amazon.
- Over 10,000 ebooks are added every day.
- Between 1-10% of published authors ever write more than one book.
- Most authors don’t start making any decent income from their books until at least the 5th in a series.
The trick is what you consider your vision to be. Most people only see visions in their nightmares. Visions are goals, which 98% of all people never set for themselves, and few of these ever write them down. But it’s almost a given that if you pick a goal and write it down, you’ll achieve it.
Many people through history have recommended consulting this vision daily, several times daily. You imagine it in all its details, considering it complete, and also getting the feelings that go along with its completion.
Earl Nightingale said truthfully that you don’t get money to become successful, you first become successful and then the money will come. Because success depends on giving before you can receive. You have to provide a fire with wood before you can get any heat (or some type of fuel, anyway.)
That grand idea for the book (or multiple ones) even if it’s just a part of your whole dream, can become reality if you believe it in and create the details in your vision. This is where you have a reason to grow and serve an audience and network.
Life is what you imagine it to be.
Sloth (How much content are you sitting on?)
The fourth quality you have also comes from within. If you’re lazy, it won’t happen. You have to put some energy behind your dreams in order to make them happen.
That is why you labor over each manuscript to make them as good as you can. That is why you feel obligated to buy editing and covers and promotion for them, so that the story can come to a full life in all its glory.
Some people have only a single story in them, and then go on tours giving speeches to others to explain it. Sometimes this also has coaching individuals, and consulting for corporations as part of the deal. But that story has a life, and your journey is intimately connected with it. And all that traveling and speaking takes work.
Other people write series about a certain hero or heroine. Once that long story is told, then they start with another hero. Some write about several heroes at once, in different series, and then have those series cross over into each other. All great entertainment.
Some write educational or inspiring stories. And it’s said that the timeless classics contain all three. The Greeks used to refer to them as ethos, logos, and pathos. And these three qualities each evoke feelings in any reader, viewer, or listener. It’s the experience we all want, so we can make better sense out of our lives.
If you never write your story, then the world will be poorer for it. Or perhaps, it will find someone else to bring it to life… But you won’t profit from the experience if you don’t. And you’ll never know how much richer your life could be until you take that part of your journey.
In short, don’t be a slacker. Get it done.
4 Virtues that Make You the Hero(ine) of Your Story
Let’s name them again:
This is where Tim Grahl comes in. Although I haven’t had a chance to tell him yet. His free book, Book Launch Blueprint and his email course, Book Launch Crash Course are unique as he sees that audience and network are both key to launching a book. In the launches he’s worked on, people play to their strengths. People with lists could launch simply. People with huge networks could launch successfully as well. The third approach he recommends is the “long launch” which is when you spend months building up your network and audience to make your single book a success. And I’m glossing over a lot of the details. If you get a chance to buy his course, it will tell you more, but the free book and ecourse above will tell you the basics.
What Grahl has never done (yet) is to work with a career author on his long series of books. Comparing Grahl to Mark Dawson and Nick Stephenson shows that there is another approach, which is publishing several books and promoting the later ones to increase the sales of the earlier ones. Write more, rinse, repeat. But again, these launches and successes are principally built on networks and audience lists.
Vision is a third approach, where a person writes a single book and then works the paid speaking gigs, coaching, and/or consulting. That author might come out with additional books (like Stephen Covey or Napoleon Hill) but the essence is in that first book. (Find Hill’s Law of Success and you’ll see all of Think and Grow Rich in it – both of those books each made him a millionaire individually.) The book and the author are intimately connected, as I said above.
The fourth approach comes from my own experience in editing and publishing hundreds of public domain, private licensed rights, and my own books. My mailing list is puny, and I’ve neglected my personal network in order to get my research accomplished. My vision for book publishing doesn’t include having to fly anywhere or have people visit my farm. Yet I am financially free within the bounds I set. And I’ve worked with others who have accomplished their 6-figure income by publishing hundreds of books to multiple book outlets. Asimov, O’Henry, and Dickens all fit into this mold, in their own fashion.
And that is what I’ve been wanting to tell you since I discovered it. (No, I haven’t had a chance to talk to Grahl about it, but he might read this…)
You need to work to your strengths.
- If you have a big list, use that to launch your book to success. That also includes using ads, which are essentially using someone else’s audience.
- If you have a big network, then involve them in your book launch. Again, you’re using their network and their audiences. Affiliate and Network Marketing live in this.
- If you have a tremendous vision, then you can bring that world into existence. Study authors who are known for only a single work. Discover their back trails and compare them. You’ll then see the commonalities that can form your own success.
- If you have access to or can crank out content in a flood, then you’ll be able to access existing audiences and networks which you never have to build. And your works will run a bell curve of successes. Some will be huge, some never leave the launch pad as they fizzle. But your long writing and publishing career is the point, which can be as well-rewarded as any of the other three approaches.
If you spend time building a lot of content, appreciate and grow your network and audience, have a vision that is unstoppable, then all the riches of the world can be yours.
The Secret to Platform Publishing Success
…is that these four points work together as a system. Start down any of these approaches and you’ll increase the rest of the three points as well. Blow up any part with the vices we started out with, and you’ll see the rest of them decline. Like a finely-tuned engine, each of these used together can roar along and take you wherever you want to go.
Together, they define and create your author platform. Scratch this out on paper, and you’ll see that advertising is a cross between your content and your audience. Vision and network is also known as a mastermind. Play around with these and you’ll see all sorts of connections. You can also use this system to revive any stalled launch project, or writing career. But you won’t see anyone else pushing this, as the courses and books out there all drink the same Conventional Wisdom Kool-Aid.
You don’t have to. You can live up to the greatness within you, fight the good fight, win the victories, earn the riches and accolades.
But first, you have to dump those vices, and adopt those virtues.
After that, the sky’s the limit, if not the stars.
Get a free copy of my new book Make Yourself Great Again Part 1. Click Here.
No vices to lose, but plenty of bonuses to gain (see inside the book…)