Many people dream of becoming an author, writing best-selling books (usually novels), chatting about their book with Oprah, and generally living a life of elegant leisure, dining with friends in Paris or fly fishing like Papa Hemingway.
When we picture the life of an author, those kinds of images pop into our heads. (What? Just me?) The title, “published author” confers a certain mystique and cachet that elevates that person in our minds.
That is why one of the most commonly recommended strategies to building your platform is to write a book. A [quality] book gives you instant authority. It sets you up as an authority in your field. Writing a book isn’t necessarily going to make you a household name overnight, but it is one piece of the foundation in your quest to become a leader in your field.
The good news is the book doesn’t have to be a runaway bestseller to do these things for you. Your book is a marketing tool, something to be leveraged to help spread the word about who you are and what you do. I am always careful to disabuse new clients of the notion that they will write one book and be able to retire on a private yacht in the Caribbean. (Yes, of course I am typing this from my private yacht in the Caribbean.)
Most authors don’t make their money on book sales, or at least not the sales of their first books. The money is made because of increased visibility, authority, reach. It is made from new clients, from seminars and speaking engagements and consulting and workshops. And if you’re really fortunate, coffee mugs.
Which is why you don’t need a runaway, bestselling book to be successful as an author. It helps and believe me, is welcomed with open arms, but it’s not a prerequisite. The fortune is, as always, in the follow-up.
Have you ever noticed that when some celebrities are booked on talk shows, their introduction and even the promos for their appearance have a descriptive identifier? For example, it’s not “the actress, Kathy Bates,” it’s the “Academy Award Winning Actress Kathy Bates” or “Two-Time Tony Award Winner Chita Rivera.” Rumor has it that those descriptive phrases are in their contracts—the promos have to include those kudos. Just as rock bands were famous (back in the day) for demanding only green M&Ms back stage (I swear, they DO taste better than the rest), fame and fortune bring perks, including putting weird demands in your contract.
In show business, those awards represent more opportunity and a higher paycheck. So every time there is a chance to remind producers, directors, and casting directors that you’re award-winning and no slouch, you take it and hammer it home.
The same, of course goes for you. Take every opportunity to remind people that you’re an author. Add it to your business bio, put it prominently on your website, both on the front page and the about page. If you’re a speaker, put it in your introduction. Use a graphic of your book in your marketing materials. Add “Author of _______” to all your social media profiles (and if applicable, add the graphic of your book to all your social media headers).
You may not build your entire platform off one book (or off your first book). But then again, you may. Look at industry built up around Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited or Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerilla Marketing or Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits. Those books have spawned seminars, trainings, consulting work, calendars, planners, even coffee mugs—all sorts of merchandizing. (Think Star Wars when you get to this point in your business.)
Your platform starts with your book.