Start Your Platform Before You Publish

It’s anti-climatic and unproductive to start talking about your book to potential readers and not have a website or other information available to follow-up with the big announcement.

The people who need the message in your book the most will not buy it because you said you are selling it-the only people who will buy immediately like that are your family and friends and the few people they tell. Your website with an enticing mailing list incentive is essential towards helping you connect your message to the people who need it but do not know you…yet.

If you begin building your platform before you publish, you will have the opportunity to use it to build fruitful relationships with everyone who learns about your book, even if they don’t buy from you right away.

Your Website Needs

Even if I have never had the chance to speak with you, I’m sure that your vision for your book involves getting your book into the hands of a lot more people than your family and friends within your current circle of influence.

So if you want your message, and your book, to reach people beyond that circle you will need a website that:

  1. answers all the questions potential buyers might ask,
  2. presents information-like your credentials, reviews and sample content-that let’s them know that you are a sincere and authentic messenger and not a fly-by-night crook after their money, and
  3. makes it easy to take a specific action based on the information they’ve read on your website.

What Action Do You Want Visitors to Take?

If your website is published before your book is published-which is highly recommended-then the action you’ll want your visitors to take is to join your mailing list in exchange for an incentive that adds value to their lives.

After your book is published, you want all visitors to join your mailing list or at least buy your book. It would be great if they do both, but let’s not push it.

The people on your mailing list choose to join because they value what you offer, and even if they don’t buy from you now, it is likely that they will buy from you later or at least mention you and your book to someone they meet. A new mailing list subscriber may not sound as exciting as a new sale right now, but considering that each mailing list subscriber can become a buyer later and is likely to talk about you to their circle influence because of the information they learn from you while they are part of your mailing list you should get very excited about new mailing list subscribers!

You might think that sales would take priority over the mailing list, but let’s think about that for a moment. Sales are great! Especially if you have included contact information in the book for readers to reach out to you with their questions or you offer other incentives for them to visit your website and download exclusive free content. But even in that scenario the goal is to get readers onto your mailing list so that you can develop a relationship with them over time and help them on a deeper level than your book can do on it’s own.

Why You Want to Offer a Mailing List Incentive

Think of your website is a virtual version of your business storefront.

It is good to have visitors wander into your store and look around, but people who look around don’t grow your business. It is even better to have visitors wander into your store and buy something, but visitors who wander in and buy something once does not grow your business.

So if you have visitors wander into your store and join your mailing list so you can send them messages about helpful tips that add so much value to their lives that they can’t wait to read it, they are beginning to like you and trust that you have their interests at heart. As they begin to trust you, they will buy your book or other offerings and likely tell their friends about it so that their friends can enjoy it too. When this happens, you are growing your business.

Simply put, your mailing list will grow your business and your mailing list incentive is what inspires visitors to join your mailing list.

Mailing List Incentive Ideas

The goal of a mailing list incentive is to offer something that your ideal readers would not hesitate to offer their email address for in exchange for free access.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • 1-3 Sample Book Chapters-If your book has already been written, pull out the first few chapters of your book and offer them for free to subscribers. The subscribers who love the first few chapters will be much more eager to buy your book after they’ve sampled the book and decided that your message is right for them.
  • A Special Video Message-Think of some tips or other information that your ideal readers will value, outline what you want to say on paper, practice running through it a couple times, and then sit in front of your webcam or other camera and record the message.
  • 3-Part Instructional Video Series-If your book is related to service business-like being a coach, consultant or even a massage therapist-then you have a lot more to offer your readers than simply a book. Identify the top three problems that your clients tend to have and create a video for each of them that introduces the problem, solves the problem, and then offers a teaser about the problem that will be solved in the next video. Ideally, the problems you solve should be addressed by your book, so after your video series is complete and you have proven to viewers how valuable your information is, you can invite them to buy your book as a low-cost entry into the bigger list of offerings your business has. This works well when your book features an offer for a free consultation, one of your entry-level services or at least offers an email address where readers can contact you with questions, comments, concerns and requests for more information.
  • Special Report-Find an area of interest for your target readers and offer a report that features more information. It can be as short as 3-5 pages as long as it delivers what your report title promises.
  • Message-related e-book-I believe that every author has at least one book on the inside of them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if part of your frustration with writing was because you quickly realized that you had multiple books you could write. Consider transforming some of those ideas into a quick e-book that you can share with mailing list subscribers.
  • A Resource List-Present your subscribers with a list of resources that can help solve a problem they have. If they fall in love with one of the resources, they will associate that loving feeling with you because you connected them to it.
  • A Collection of Resources-A resource list features resources that other people offer, but a collection of resources focuses on lists, templates, guides, e-books, videos and other resources that you create and offer exclusively to mailing list subscribers. If you have more than one of the incentives on this list, then you have enough to offer as a collection of resources to new subscribers.
  • An Interactive Quiz or Questionnaire-This can be a great way to engage your target audience with your message while providing customized feedback based on their responses. There are several WordPress plugins available to help with the technical side of creating a quiz as a mailing list incentive.
  • Mini-Course-You can create a mini-course on a topic related to your message by using the MailChimp autoresponder series that automatically emails your subscribers lessons on the schedule you set, or you can get fancy by using WordPress plugin like CoursePress to build a more in depth course.
  • Audio Recording-Just record yourself sharing a message that your target audience cares about and then share the recording with your subscribers.
  • Article-Your article may be shared on your website, in online article directories, on someone else’s popular blog, in an online magazine and/or in a print magazine or newspaper.
  • Coupon-Everyone likes to save money. The simplest way to encourage people to join your mailing list is to offer a discount for subscribers. The discount may be on your book or other services you offer.

These are not the only mailing list incentives you can offer, but these are some of the tried-and-proven approaches that are commonly used online.

How To Start

Great platforms and their websites don’t just happen, they are planned.

The Platform Planning Worksheet is only one of the free resources you will receive when you subscribe to my mailing list and claim your free Author Info Kit.

It walks you through the process of:

  • defining your budget for preparing your platform,
  • analyzing your audience,
  • defining the message you want to communicate to your audience,
  • choosing your mailing list incentive,
  • choosing the pages you want to feature on your website, and even
  • how you will promote your website.

The result is an outline of a strategy for building a platform that is most likely to connect you with your publishing goals.

After you finish the Platform Planning Worksheet, you will have all the information you’ll need to continue following your customized Self-Publishing Checklist you received after you completed the Quick Start Guide to Writing and Publishing Your Book.

Claim your Author Info Kit to get your Quick Start Guide, and after you finish the guide you will get your custom checklist and Platform Planning Worksheet.

If you would prefer to have one-on-one guidance through the process, book a no cost, no obligation consultation so we can talk about your book and how to build your platform.

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at