Blogger: Mary Keeley
“I must tell you that I think [my client] is a fabulous writer . . . [but] without a platform, we unfortunately will not be able to pursue this project.” Ugh! Is there anything more writers can do, in addition to the usual social media, newsletter, and blog activity, to overcome the platform hurdle? The answer is yes.
Adopt a cause.
Lately, much of the editor feedback we receive from Christian publishers sounds like that rejection I received last week. These responses aren’t only for debut authors but also mid-list authors with disappointing sales numbers. Recently, a client told me a potential publicist she interviewed recommended she take up a cause to grow her platform, so I did some research.
It all begins with knowing what your passion is. I’ve talked in the past about how important it is to focus on what is most important to you because that’s where your best writing will happen. That focus is also important for your brand and your platform growth. Double your effort to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can about the people, topic, time period—whatever it is that will be the constant thread in the books you write. Become an expert in your special area.
The cause you choose must connect with what you write. For example, bestselling author Steve Berry is passionate about preserving history. All of his books involve some historical location. Read his bio here to learn how he connected his passion and his books with his cause. You might not be able to start your own foundation like he did, but you can partner with an established cause after you’ve researched and are confident of its integrity. Offer to do speaking for the group. If you can connect your cause to a current cultural or newsworthy topic, doors may open for additional speaking opportunities.
Here are six tips for adopting a cause to grow your platform:
- Think strategically when choosing a cause. Some will attract people who aren’t necessarily readers of your genre—or readers at all. One client is writing a fiction series in which water shortage is one of the common threads. It would be a mistake to choose water issues as a cause because it is likely to attract scientists more than fiction readers.
- Be prepared with talking points. You never know what impromptu opportunities you might have to talk about your cause and your books with someone who will want you to speak to their group when they see your enthusiasm and passion.
- Don’t wait for media to come to you. Local radio and TV shows are always looking for interesting interviews. Contact the producers and share some of your expertise about what you write and the cause you are supporting. Your knowledge and the fact that you are a writer give you an air of authority.
- Dedicate an area on your website to the cause you support. Update it frequently with news and your speaking engagements for the cause.
- Talk about your cause on social media and your blog. It offers a subtle segue to talk about your books in an appealing way that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.
- Seek out others who blog about your cause and suggest you guest post for each other. Agree ahead of time that you can also talk about the books you write. You and your books will reach a new group of readers who might not otherwise have known about or purchased your books.
Platform has been a major hurdle for nonfiction writers for a long time. Increasingly it is becoming an obstacle for novelists as well. Today, authors must be creative about expanding your platform. One way to accelerate its growth is to take up a cause, and you don’t have to wait until you have a book releasing to begin. In fact, you’ll have increased authenticity if you are associated with the cause before your first, or next, book is published.
Now let’s brainstorm together. Offer two or three possible causes you could adopt that align with what you write, and then let’s talk about which one has the greatest potential for gaining readers of your books.
What is your initial reaction to adopting a cause?
Six tips for authors who adopt a cause to grow their platform. Click to Tweet.
Authors, you can accelerate your platform growth when you adopt a cause via @marygkeeley. Click to Tweet.