Can I Skip the Platform but Still Get on the Train?

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Dear Rachelle,
I’m submitting my first non-fiction book proposal, and I am wondering if the absence of a platform dooms a proposal to rejection. I am confident in the quality and the relevance of my book, but I have no platform or marketing experience. How does one address this in a book proposal?
Sincerely,
A Writer, Not a Marketer

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Dear Not a Marketer,

If your book is targeted at a niche audience, and it’s on a topic on which you are a recognized expert or you are highly credentialed, then a platform isn’t as much of a concern.

But generally with a non-fiction book, you’ll need to show why you’re the right person to author this book, and why potential readers would want to buy your book. Assuming there will be other books on the shelf that are similar in nature to yours, what would make a reader choose yours? That’s what a platform is all about:

  • Maybe you are the most experienced and/or credentialed author on that subject.
  • Maybe readers have already read things you’ve written on the topic—on a blog, on Facebook, in a reputable publication.
  • Maybe readers have heard you on the radio or a podcast, so they already recognize you as someone knowledgeable on the topic.
  • Perhaps readers attended an event at which you spoke.

What would make readers choose you?

As you can see, it isn’t so much about “publisher requirements,” since these concerns exist even for self-published authors. Readers need a reason to buy your book as opposed to someone else’s.

Think about that as you’re putting together the proposal. If you really have no platform whatsoever, i.e. no reason for people to buy your book, then it’s better to wait a year or two, figure out how to begin engaging with people on your topic (blog, Facebook, Instagram, writing articles for publication, speaking engagements, podcasts) and get started. Then submit your proposal when you have something to show.

Hope that helps!

Does this help your understanding of platform? What’s the hardest part about publishing platform requirements?

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash