Platform Building vs. Marketing a Book

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Most people understand that it’s difficult to promote a book without first having a platform. However…

A platform is not enough.

To sell copies of your book, you have to actually promote the book.

You can have a huge platform — thousands of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blog readers. Maybe you’re even a public speaker, have a popular newsletter, you’re a go-to expert on your topic, or you’re already a bestselling author.

But if you don’t put your latest book in front of people and make it easy and advantageous for them to immediately click-to-buy, nobody is going to buy it.


Even bestselling authors and celebrities have major “launches” for each book—they don’t just sit back and assume people will find the book because they’re famous. But when you’ve been working hard at platform building, it can come as a surprise that once you have a book available, there is even more to be done.

So what’s the difference between platform and promotion?

Platform-building activities could include:

→ Having a blog and using proven strategies to increase your traffic.

→ Interacting effectively on Twitter and building up your follower count.

→ Having a Facebook fan page and growing your number of fans.

→ Establishing an author brand for yourself.

→ Building an email subscriber list and sending out regular newsletters

Book promotion activities could include:

→ Offering a free giveaway of something your readers would enjoy (a novella, a short non-fiction e-book, a collection of behind-the-scenes information about your book, books from your backlist, etc.) to anyone who buys your book within a specified time frame, and promoting the giveaway on all social media.

→ Creating contests and events on Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook that give readers the opportunity and incentive to buy your book.

→ Having a blog tour for your book, in which dozens of bloggers post about your book within a given week.

→ Running targeted advertising on Facebook.

→ Having a “street team” who can work social media on behalf of your book.

It’s important to understand the distinction between platform building and book promotion. You need both, they’re both ongoing, and they require separate activities. Don’t fall into the trap of doing only half!

Have you thought about this distinction between platform and promotion? Are you uncomfortable with either one? What are some platform or promotional activities that have worked for you? 

Image copyright: piksel / 123RF Stock Photo

9 Responses

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  1. WWJD?
    * He has a Street Team. Well,more of a Sandal Team.
    * He did public speaking. Sometimes with a whip.
    * He ran contests…I mean, He didn’t heal everyone, and of the ten lepers who were healed, the winner was the dude who came back.
    * He toured, with the understanding that “Local Boy Makes Good” was not a part of the Galilean makeup.
    * He used the social media of the time…gossip and word-of-mouth (Luke 23:3)
    * He used paid advertising – the Tomb was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, and its prominence meant that the Resurrection could not be ignored.

  2. I love how Becky Wade and Katie Ganshert battle each other in “Pinterest wars.” It is so fun to follow along with them and vote, etc. Great promotional idea.

    • Angela Arndt says:

      I haven’t seen those, Shelli, but I’ll look for them now. And that’s a great way to do both: relationships. You have a relationship with them and recommended them. Now they’ll have another follower. 🙂

      An author friend told me to share inspiring memes twice daily, then make sure I invite those who like the meme to like or follow me. Just the act of consistent posts is enough to get people to follow you because they know you’ll have inspiring info each day. And inviting them to like you isn’t a “cold call,” because you’ve already got something in common.

  3. Thanks Rachel for the timely information because I am needing to create platform and creatively promote what I am currently working on that is totally different from the memoir I had pitched last year. I’ve set that aside for now. So, now I am going from a memoir titled, Losing My Mind, Finding God’s written for adults, to a nonfiction devotional type book titled, Letters From Great Aunt Lizzie: Quirky Humor With Indispensable Wisdom, written for the middle grades. This is also written with the knowledge that most Americans, which includes many that have English as a second language read and comprehend at an eigth grade level, some say the level is even lower now, possibly sixth grade. I know, it seems totally off, but when I wrote educational material as a nurse it had to be formulated to the eigth grade level. If the writing was for nurses or physicians, I could write at a higher level, but it had to be succinct and clear because they only had so much time.

    Anyway, back to platform and promoting. I’m not afraid of it. I’m very creative and also have an arts background. I love people, and as a sanguine personality all this excites me. My issue is as a newer writer, and having various options present, I need guidance. I need to weigh things out wisely, figure out how to incorporate some of what I had last year into this year, and then pop with Great Aunt Lizzie.

    I so appreciate each blog post on Between the Lines. Every time I read it I learn something valuable.

    Oh, and I am helping my dear sweet daughter of the faith and of my heart, Crystal Dill, with her book launch August 10th. Her book is titled, The Mark of Moses. The party will be at Bethany Publishing. A shameless plug for her, but she is gifted with words as a speaker, writer, and spoken word artist. She is just beginning her journey, and I am her Mama B who is so happy to be part of it.