Traditional Publishing Wannabes, I’m Sorry But You Still Need the Dreaded “Platform”. Part 1.

Having a platform is not just for authors going the self-publishing route.

Those hoping to get a traditional publishing contract need one too. Let me explain.

A few weeks back, an agent contacted me out of the blue asking if she could see my manuscript. She noticed that I wrote a blog on book marketing and promotions and ran the site Ladies Who Critique and no doubt thought “voila, now there is an author I would want to represent.”

Isn’t that interesting? I have never posted any of my fiction writing online, I make frequent grammar mistakes in my blogging, I am no way near the querying process with my manuscript and yet, I get contacted by an agent.

I’m not telling this story to brag.

I’m telling this story because it has a nice little lesson attached to it.

More than ever these days, agents want to see an author who is on social media.

Agents want to see an author who knows how effective self- promotion works. (Productivity, not just activity)

Agents want to see an author who blogs frequently and can use wordpress.

Why? Because those are the authors that publishers want.

And Why?

Because it’s those authors, who already have an audience to sell their books, that well, sell books. And this in turn makes the promotions peops at the publishing house’s lives easier.

And who doesn’t want an easier life?

So quick recap: an agent wants to see a writers manuscript and not because of her writing but because of her, uhhh, wait for it, “platform”. (shudder).

 A gorgeous pair of Christian Loubitons!

 Not that kind of platform. Unfortunately.

There is no guarantee that the lovely agent in question would have liked my manuscript, and since it’s no where near where I want it to be, I told her I’d pass on her very kind offer at this time.

But do you see the kind of opportunity that putting yourself out there affords? Being discoverable? Being proactive?

A social network and platform that has the power to generate sales might just be as powerful as good writing when trying to land a literary deal!!

Yeah, that sucks a little and makes us all want to throw up in our mouths a little. As if it’s not hard enough just focusing on writing a good book, now we have to go and learn all of this Internet stuff. It’s not exactly the romantic dream of writing and publishing that we had.

But that’s the beauty of it. It’s only adding to your arsenal of tricks. It’s supporting good writing with the proof that you’re more than just a talented muse. It’s making you more attractive, and, more discoverable.

I think it’s about time that even the traditional romantics got with the program and woke up to the reality of 2012. You need to be online, and not just online, but making waves online. Even if you are not self-publishing and have zero desire to. Even best selling authors publishing with the big 6 are doing their own promotions these days.

And if you are on social media and building your platform online (again, not really an option), you need to make sure you have a good strategy and aren’t just flailing around like a walrus on a slippery rock.

(Hold up, how have I never noticed those weird things coming out of Walruses (Walri’s?) mouths before?)

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

I’ll just repeat the title of this post for good measure.

Traditional Publishing Wannabes, I’m Sorry But You Still Need the Dreaded “Platform”

Except it’s not all that dreaded, it’s actually tons of fun. And it might just get you noticed.

Need some help with building your platform? Throughout February I’m offering a 30 minute free consultation. Contact me here, or check out our services.



Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.