Article by Wendy Keller (Non-Fiction Book Agent)
Let’s say you want to sell your book to a serious A-list publisher like Random House, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Hachette, St. Martin’s Press, John Wiley, McGraw-Hill, HarperCollins, etc. You desire a publisher who will treat you like the talent you are, give your book the respect it deserves and help you become the star you know you are destined to become. You’ve got some great content, you’ve written a decent query letter, but no agents or publishers so far have taken you on.
The answer: you lack a big enough platform. “Platform” is industry jargon for how big your following is. Ten years ago, this wasn’t even important, but these days, not even a tiny little press or a brand new agent will consider working with you without YOU showing up with a platform.
Publishing is a business, and business is in business to make a profit. If you can prove in advance that your book will be profitable, agents and publishers will be crawling all over you. If you have done NOTHING (or very little, or you’ve only had success outside the USA), then nobody’s going to take a business risk on you. It’s not fair, but it is reality.
A platform (in our language) means as much as possible of the following:
- Paid speaking engagements (lots of them!)
- Celebrity status (in media, in the world or in your industry)
- A huge social media following/impressive Klout.com score
- Big mailing list with whom you keep in touch
- Previous information products you’ve sold successfully to your fans (like, if you had an infomercial and sold 100,000 widgets and now you want to write the widget book)
- Big powerful connections (as in, “Apple will buy 20,000 copies of my book upon release and I can prove it” or “Oprah agreed to write my Foreword”)
- Hosting your own radio or television show (a successful one, not some internet radio show with 300 proven listeners)
- Singular status (I am the person who invented the wheel/I was nominated for the Nobel prize/I crossed Antarctica on a pogo stick)
You may be thinking, “Heck, if I have to have all that, I’ll just self-publish! Who needs Random House?”
And frankly, I’d be thinking the same thing if I were you and didn’t know what I know. But there’s one word that makes all the difference in the world: media.
Self-published authors don’t get media because journalists know their books are usually sloppy, poorly researched, badly written or have some hidden psycho element that will make the book or the author an embarrassment to the journalist or the station.
Without media attention, you have a MICROSCOPIC chance of selling more than a few hundred books because there is just too much competition.
Respectfully, you probably have never marketed a book before and even if you hire the best publicity firm in the world, you will not know all the insider tricks and secrets to take it from “working hard to sell one more copy” (which nets you only a few bucks at best) and “leveraging” your book to achieve your ultimate goal, whether it is hefty consulting opportunities, a worldwide following, lots of paid speaking engagements or a real impact on the psyche of the planet’s population. Sorry, but those of us on the inside of publishing have seen literally hundreds of thousands of people who thought they knew as well or better how this works stumble and lose their shirts.
That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that it’s a lot of lost time and money AND a failed self-published book is a ball-and-chain around your ankle and will make it nearly impossible to sell your second book to a “real” publisher. Just because you theoretically CAN build your own private jet in your garage, is it really the best idea?
How Keller Media May Be Able To Help You:
This agency puts authors first. We want you to succeed, because when you do, we do too. Many of our clients have begun relatively small and gone on to create massive wealth and significant impact in the world. We’d like you to be one of them. We’re always looking for bright new talent. If you have a great content idea but merely lack platform, there are several ways we can help you build that platform. Click the situation that applies best to you to learn more:
5. Because you’re VERY serious about this and just want a professional to help you make it happen fast (Admission to this program requires a content audition)
Self-publishing is as easy as writing a check, but selling self-published books is surprisingly hard. Finding a “real” publisher who loves your work is challenging if you don’t know the way the business works. Finding an agent who will help you achieve your dreams is impossible if you don’t have even a rudimentary platform. In summary: get a platform. Start now, do it right, work it diligently and you WILL succeed.
To learn more about Wendy Keller’s line of product to help new authors get “Agent Approved” visit this page.
To grab the Platform 101 course, please click here.