When being interviewed by a literary agent a couple of years back, the key question was: “What is your platform?”
It was not about the book, about my “art” or about my passion to get the book to market. This omnipotent, omnipresent word “platform” drove this industry that I knew so very little about. After much fact finding, talking to authors, attending conferences, I carefully and successfully presented my “platform”.
Platform is the deal-maker and breaker. New as well as experienced authors are almost totally judged by their expertise, influence, and connections within their content niche. It is not “all about the book”; it is all about the platform.
At first pass, do the author’s credentials, current relevancy, unique appeal, balance the financial risk and efforts to be taken by a publisher? Second is the work itself, the clever or intriguing headline, topic or content.
An author’s value to a publisher is their known expertise with their book’s audience. Jeff Herman, author of the series “Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents”, states that 98% of the authors who literary agents review are denied, and of those who do sign contracts with agents, a very small percentage get published.* Tough odds, all based on platform.
This commentary is not about publishing, this article is about helping make clear the importance of your individual “platform” or what we call in advertising; one’s “personal brand”. My deep experience in the creative side of branding as a Creative Director | Art Director helped me understand the publishing world’s choices based upon platform. It is your personal brand, your core of influence.
What is your “platform”?
The present economy is a direct parallel to what the odds have always been in the publishing world, especially a new author. In this competitive environment, how can you present your skills, worth, talents, to employers and be one of the chosen? They are looking at your “platform”, not your genius. Have you defined what makes you the expert, unique, of value? What makes you worth taking the “risk” to hire? Like an author, when your platform is strong, you can become the recipient of multiple offers!
Personal Brand Points
Whether you are consulting, in transition, or holding a position, always refresh, walk and talk your brand.
1. What makes you unique? What is it about you, your passion that sets your story apart from everyone else? Take a look at the competition, what “titles” are already out there, how can you be unique and come from your strengths? This is “non – fiction” personal branding that must reflect your own integrities. Copycat story lines will not get support, only your true story creates your personal brand.
2. Single Focus is your goal. A great book has a main theme that creates the foundation for a good story. What is your “story”? What is your exact title, your exact industry, even your exact desired location? It’s your story, begin it with letting people know who you are, always have a single focus, and avoid being “everything to everyone”. This single focus creates your public profiles; resume to social media and group profiles. Your message consistency is key to being remembered and referred by your network of helpful people.
3. What is your “plan of action”? Clearly outline the “how and where” of your personal branding. A writer creates a schedule and table of contents. Include your mission, vision, positioning statement, and specific deadlines for your days, weeks. Place a date “stake” in your calendar for your goal fulfillments. Give yourself a schedule that shows progress as well as time for networking with your helpful folks. Most important, schedule time for fun, friends, family, and home to maintain your balance and well being!
4. Broadcast your personal brand. Books sell when they are seen as the new trend or of a high degree of current interest. Show potential employers and clients that you are knowledgeable about the current trends, spotting and sharing new innovations that show you are “in touch” and of value. Get your Linked in at 100%. Put updates on trends relevant to your niche on Linked in, Facebook and Twitter at least 2 times a week.
5. Talk your potential, not your past. A personal brand begins with “what you have done”, the listing of awards, positions of the past…keep your brand in the present by pointing out your potential not your past. Tell your story in the present, what is of interest that you can share with your client right NOW.
6. Always GIVE first. Personal brands are about the expertise you have to offer, what you can share with a partnership. Just like a book, your story is to be shared with many people. With Social Media, the protocol is of “Give First”. Give value to your niche; share your story, expertise, unique integrity and truth.
Personal Brand Persistence
The single focus consistent platform of my book created a successful release, PR, sales, rights sold to the UK and translation into Italian. Being doggedly persistent to my platform’s story and goals paid off. A strong platform with determined follow through is essential for brand “you”. Ad agency, Mc Cann Erickson’s famous philosophy: “Truth Well Told” describes what a brand must have, a strong true story. “Truth” is most always told by the relentless, consistent telling of one’s story. By expressing your platform with persistence and confidence, others will telegraph your brand; helping you manifest the opportunity to shine, grow, and share your talents.
I am still learning from my newest role of author. My brand is in transition. It is a dynamic, challenging experience to come full circle back to my passion in helping a company move their innovations forward via brand. As Creative Director | Art Director my platform creates the expression of the heart or emotional essence of my client’s brand, be it a cause, service, or product.
That’s my story, truth be told, to be continued…
Paula Brown is a Creative Director | Art Director (and now Author) presently acting as a consultant via her firm Paula Brown Creative. Her passion is branding a company to reflect and grow from its unique emotional essence and benefit. See more about Paula and her brand at Paula Brown Creative.
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Personal And Business Branding