Writing a book? First, build a platform. – Birds on the Blog

Writing a book? First, build a platform.

Kelly PietrangeliKelly Pietrangeli is one of the Extraordinary Business Book Club’s most loyal listeners. While she was writing her book Project Me, she set aside ‘Sacred Tuesdays’ for her writing, and began her day with the ritual of listening to the podcast for ideas and inspiration and just to get her in the mood.

This week she herself is the guest on the podcast, because her story is too good not to share.

Kelly’s story

With two young sons, Kelly experienced the overwhelm and sense of being out of control of her life common to most working mothers. Unlike most, however, Kelly did something about it: she went on parenting and productivity courses, and then formed a mutual coaching circle with a small group of friends to keep herself on track. It worked brilliantly, and after a couple of years they said to each other, ‘We should write a book.’

So they started writing a book, until Kelly had a revelation.

‘It just occurred to me one day, how are we going to get a book deal on this book called Project Me, when we have no website, no social media platform whatsoever, like, who are we, you know? We’re just a couple of mothers who are writing this book and I suddenly lost confidence in the idea. But then it occurred to me, well, we could kind of do things backwards here and set up a website, and take the chapters we’ve written so far and turn them into blog posts.’

Her friend and co-author wasn’t impressed.

‘[She] thought I was crazy. Like, “What, we’re just going to take all this stuff we’ve been working on and just put it for free on a website so anybody can get it? Why would anybody later want to buy a book if it’s already there on the website?”’

But Kelly convinced her, and Project Me was born, first as a blog, then gradually as a suite of resources, online course, workshops, coaching and ultimately a community.

The power of community

And it was that community that turned things around when it was time to circle back and write the book.

‘I was able to take all of those wonderful things that people wrote and put them in the book proposal saying at the end of it, “And here is what my readers are saying about wanting to have this book.” I basically quoted everybody… so the publishers were able to see that I’ve already built my tribe. I’ve already got this following and they’re following every step of the way on this book writing.’

The result? She put aside the pitch she’d prepared for the meeting with publishers when she realised they were pitching to HER in a bidding war. She now has a deal with Orion Spring and the book is due to publish soon.

What Kelly discovered is that a book is part of your bigger platform, not a standalone. To get readers, let alone publishers, interested in your book to the point where they’re willing to spend time and money on it, you have to secure their attention and trust. And to make the book worthwhile for you professionally, you need to have built a ‘back-end’ of revenue-creating activities that the book can point people towards.

Think platform before book

Before you think about writing your book, think about creating a platform – content, products, services, community. And ideally, like Kelly, create the two together, to maximise the return on your investment.

You can hear the full interview with Kelly here.

If you still need convincing about the importance of platform, take at look at Colleen Conger’s stats on social media and attention: http://birdsontheblog.co.uk/brand-social-media/

And for more advice on brand, blogging and books, see Jacqui Malpass’s call to ‘be daring and write a book’: http://birdsontheblog.co.uk/worried-about-your-brand-be-daring-and-write-a-book/

About the Author Alison Jones

Alison is a book coach and publishing partner for businesses and organizations with something to say. She hosts the Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast.

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