Thursdays with Amanda: The Numbers Behind an Author Platform
OK, nonfiction writers. You’ve heard it before. If you really want to impress an agent or a publisher, make sure you have three things: a great idea, great writing, and a great author platform.
But more and more, platform is becoming THE way to secure a book deal.
This is because while writing can be fixed or edited and the idea can be tweaked, platform has to happen organically.
It can’t happen by chance. It can’t be bought. It’s about hard work over a period of time and it’s something that only the author can bring to the table.
So what do impressive social media stats look like?
Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.
A decent nonfiction author platform has a handful of the following components:
If you have a website or blog your monthly unique visitor count should be at least 30,000
(a unique visitor number of 100,000 is likely to secure a book deal)
If you have a Twitter account your followers should be at least 10,000 (and you should have stats that show considerable growth over the past six months)
If you have a Facebook page you should have at least 8,000 likes (along with Insights that show your past and projected growth)
If you’re a public speaker you should speak at least 30 times a year and you should shoot for a newsletter list of at least 10,000
Publishing Is More Competitive Than Ever
Needless to say, these numbers aren’t easy to achieve, and I’ve seen a number of authors who HAVE these numbers come away without a book deal.
But on the flip side, I’ve seen authors with the bare minimum of the above components land a book deal because they also had great writing and a great idea.
So yes. Platform is HUGE. It’s an absolute must if you write fiction. But never underestimate the power of strong, moving writing and a great, timely book idea.
I’m curious to know your thoughts on these numbers. Do you see them as a case for self publishing? Are they motivation to push forward? Are they just plain disheartening?
Great info! A quick question: If an author has those marketing numbers, and with the diminishing bottomline for authors in royalties, why publish traditionally? Is it vanity, so the author can see their books in a troubled bookstore market?
In my case the numbers were the impetus to go the self publishing route but by no means do I think they are unrealistic or unattainable. My game plan was to begin with self published works and then use those to build a platform. I am trying to create some content marketing by doing a daily podcast to see if that will help but in the end I approach all of my writing and podcasting from the perspective that I do this work because I really do enjoy it. Hopefully at some point that joy becomes contagious, but if not I am okay with that as well.
I am currently working on a project that compares the wisdom of Ptah-Hotep (written 4500 years ago) with Kohelet (written 2500 years ago). It is interesting that both of them appealed to the current reigning power to give credence to their work, Ptah-hotep wrote as a “son of the Paroah” which actually indicates a mentor-disciple relationship while Kohelet wrote as a son of David and indicated a connection to the wisdom of Solomon. Both men knew that humans need to have a recommendation from someone they consider important before they will make the effort to read any further, they recognized the need for a platform. Looks like the publishing business has remain unchanged for at least 5000 years.
Can you put any tangible numbers like this to fiction authors? Is there anything you LIKE to see? A min of 2000 fans on f fb, or whatever?
Thank you for this terrific information. Every author needs to work every day at growing their platform. Even though I just went over 167,000 followers on twitter. I’m taking action every day to continue growing that following. I list my five actions in this blog post: http://bit.ly/22eu5vS I hope it helps some readers. Keep up the good work.
The Writing Life