Platform, Product, Promotion: The Author’s Three P’s

Overwhelmed by all the well-meaning advice given by experts, industry professionals and even other authors?

Closely monitoring the publishing business I see many different paths and approaches suggested to aspiring authors regarding everything from writing the book to publishing the book to promoting and building platform and brand.  It’s a very confusing time for publishing in general and many authors are finding themselves caught in the crossfire.

There’s a lot of advice out there, much of it contradicting other advice.  My Warrior Writer program focuses on the author.  As part of that, I’m going to sort this out for you with a template you can use to continue your own career path.

There’s a simple reason for all the conflicting advice:  no two authors are exactly the same.  We all approach our careers with different goals. How we define those goals play a key role in the questions we need to ask ourselves up front. Do I want traditional publishing? Is self-publishing a viable option for me personally? What other options are there? Or should I pack up and go home?  Making an educated decision on our publishing path leads the author into this mass confusion of varying opinions o the subject. In an effort to bring some clarity to the issue, I offer up three variables and examine how they affect the way a writer should view getting published and, more importantly, they’re writing career.

The variables are:




Quick definitions:

Platform:  Name recognition is what people think of, but there’s more to platform than that.  Are you an expert in your field?  Do you have a special background that makes you unique?  Everyone has some sort of platform, even if it’s just your emotions, exemplified Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, mining his anger into art.  I use the film clip of his audition at the beginning of my Warrior Writer workshop, book and presentation, and show how quickly he changed, mined his ‘platform’, and was on his way to becoming a star.  All within three minutes.

So don’t get close-minded on platform.  However, for traditional publishers, they immediately are looking at name recognition (brand) and ability to reach a market (which ties into promoting).

However, with the explosion of eBooks, there are other paths to take, which we will examine in future blog posts, as, after 20 years, I’ve really changed my views on how to approach getting published (hey, we want you to come back to Write It Forward.  Bookmark this blog now.  Yes, now.  No, not then.  Now.  BTW, repetition is a key to promotion).

Product:  The book.  Yes, Virginia, you need a book.  Or a proposal for a book.  This is your content.  Most authors become totally fixated on content, while ignoring platform and promotion.  Do so at your peril.

Promotion:  The ability to do it.  The access to promotional outlets.  Unique hook or angle that gets attention.

If you consider three variables, with a sliding scale from ‘none’ to ‘the best’, you end up with an infinite variety of authors.  To simplify matters, let’s go with ‘weak’ and ‘strong’.  This gets us down to eight possible types of writers.

  • Strong Platform            Strong Product            Strong Promotion
  • Strong Platform            Strong Product            Weak Promotion
  • Strong Platform            Weak Product              Strong Promotion
  • Strong Platform            Weak Product              Weak Promotion
  • Weak Platform              Strong Product            Strong Promotion
  • Weak Platform              Strong Product            Weak Promotion
  • Weak Platform             Weak Product              Strong Promotion
  • Weak Platform             Weak Product              Weak Promotion

If you’re in the latter line, fughhedaboutit as we used to say in the Bronx.

But for all the other combination of the three P’s, we can all see a type of writer.  Where do you fall? Where do you want to fall?

These are no discrete entities.  They all rely on each other.  You have to consider that promotion is based on platform and product.

Product is often based on the platform.  If you have a platform you will most likely write a book mining that platform (if you don’t, well duh).

There’s a degree of luck involved in promotion.  Going viral.  But luck goes to the person who climbs the mountain to wave the lightning rod about.  It’s called hard work.  One key lesson we’ve learned at Who Dares Wins Publishing is consistency and repetition of message is key.  Slack off for a week, and fughhedaboutit.

Product is the one you can improve the most by working on your craft.  However, you can improve both platform and promotion, which many authors ignore.  Become known as THE writer of that type of book.  That’s platform.

Promotion is often hard as the Myers-Brigg INFJ is labeled ‘author’ while the exact opposite, ESTP, is labeled ‘promoter’.  We HAVE to get out of our comfort zones as authors.  In Warrior Writer I emphasize doing the opposite of your Myers-Brigs personality type.

The advent of social media is a boon to writers.  We can actually do promoting from the safety of our offices.  We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media lays out an excellent plan for that, but, as the author, Kristen Lamb, clearly writes, figure out your platform and your product (content) first.  Too many authors leap blindly into social media and I watch 95% of them wasting their time and energy flailing about inefficiently.  Small point she makes:  do you have your book cover as your avatar on twitter?  A picture of your cat? Fughhedaboutit.  Read the book.

The bottom line is, as a writer, you have to evaluate yourself on the three P variables and figure out what type you are.  Then approach the business accordingly, while at the same time, working hard to improve in those areas where you are weak.

I’m updating this post in March 2011, especially since I’m pulling all the P’s together for the 12 April launch of my trilogy, Duty, Honor, Country, novels of the Civil War.  How does it work:

Platform:  West Point graduate, former Infantry and Special Forces officer, bestselling author

Product:  A 180,000 word manuscript I’ve been laboring over for 2 years.  Breaking it into three eBooks, 50-70k each and rolling all into one very large print on demand book.

Promotion:  We’re in the midst of launching our promotional campaign and we’re in it for the long haul.  While we want to break out of the gates on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, this trilogy is going to be followed by more books and more promotion.

Write It Forward!

Jane Friedman’s blog at Writer’s Digest always a good source of information. I’d also recommended reading The Newbies Guide to Publishing blog by JA Konrath.

About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on October 18, 2010, in Social Media and the Writer, The Publishing Borg, Warrior Writer, WDWPUB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Bob–

    What do you think about this:

    This author’s rights have reverted, but the publisher has not stopped selling her books, neither is she being paid. She doesn’t want to disappoint the readers who want to buy her books. Rock and a hard place?

  2. Very interesting post. Wish more people had seen it.

    It’s hopeful to think that a person with a weak platform can, by the use of effort, succeed by creating good product and promotion. For instance, me. I have no platform, but hard work doesn’t scare me.

    Now, guess I’ll starting brainstorming a novel about my avatar. :)TX

  3. Thank you, Bob. I can’t wait to see future posts!

  4. magnificent publish, very informative. I ponder why the other specialists
    of this sector don’t understand this. You should continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a
    great readers’ base already!

  5. Glad you found it useful

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