How Do I Write My Book and Build a Platform at the Same Time?

Questioning the Gap between the Two

Recently I was on the phone with a writer who was trying to figure out the answer to this question: How do I write my book and build a platform at the same time?

Many of us want to get our books into the world, but we also understand the power and importance of a significant platform. We understand that if we write a book without a platform, we will have difficulty reaching an audience. We not only want to write a book, we want some people to read it!

This blog post shows you how to do both.

You’re Already a Master at This

My first piece of advice is to give yourself some credit. Fact is, you already have a lot of experience getting multiple things done.

For example:

  • How do you work a full-time job and find time to be a wife/husband?
  • How do you make sure your kids are getting enough time from you and also do all the things it takes to run a household?
  • For younger people, how do you work a part-time job, have a social life, and go to classes and get your homework done?

These are not rhetorical questions. Think for a second. How do you accomplish the multiple long-arc projects on your plate? However you do it, you can use those same tactics to write your book and build a platform.

My guess is you carve out time for each long-arc activity. You pay the bills on a particular night. You reserve Saturdays for family. You mow the lawn or do the grocery shopping at particular times. And so on.

It works! Somehow it all gets done. It might get hectic at times, but it all gets done. What it takes is commitment and a plan.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

What’s Your Plan?

There’s no one right plan. You might:

  • Book these early mornings of the week for platform building and these others for writing your book
  • Build your platform a few years before writing your book
  • Write a book proposal and if you get a contract write a book and build platform
  • Write a book, turn it in, then build your platform in the time between submission and launch
  • Self-publish a book and then build you platform to make sure people know about it
  • Use vacation time to get bigger slices of time.

I’ve seen versions of all of these approaches, and they all can work. It’s probably a good idea, though, to be willing to change your plan if the one you pick doesn’t work out. Give your plan a probation period. If it’s working, great. If not, fire that plan and hire a new one.

Question the Gap between Book and Platform

Obviously books and platforms are not the same thing. A book is about 40,000 to 60,000 words of content (remember, I’m a trade nonfiction guy). A platform is your means of getting people to notice your work, including your book.

But sometimes we make the gap between the two bigger than it needs to be. Get suspicious about that gap. We think it’s bigger than it really is.

Key strategy: Look for ways the two can overlap. Are there ways your work can do double duty?

  • What if your blog posts (aka platform builders) were sketches of parts of your book? New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson once told me his blog posts were his “test balloons.”
  • Can you ask your audience questions and learn from their responses what direction to take your book? Here you’re building your platform by engaging your audience, and you’re working on your book too.
  • What if you gave away a chapter from your book in exchange for email addresses?
  • When you’re developing a concept, what if you asked your tribe which title/subtitle they’re most likely to buy?

You will have to make time for writing and platform building, but look for and pursue a symbiotic relationship between the two. How could you build your platform by writing your book? How could you write your book by building your platform?

The Really Good News

Writers tend to wish they could ignore platform building and just write their books, but let me share the really good news in all this.

Building your platform connects you with your audience. It helps you understand their needs and gives you an idea of the kind of book they would find most useful.

If the point is to get your message into the world, you’re at least beginning to do that with your blog or podcast or speaking or whatever you do to build your platform. When it’s time for your book to launch, you have a built-in audience. You know that people are going to buy your book because they have asked you for it.

And that is a great position to be in.

Question: What tactics do you use for writing your book and building your platform? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • LindaMKWriter

    I hear this question, or should I say, complaint, all the time in my writers’ group. Although I wanted to build a platform while writing my memoir, I couldn’t seem to grasp what it should look like until I “finished” it.

    After reading yours other marketing posts, I finally asked myself what the most compelling issue is in my story. The answer was the dichotomy I received from the Christian community regarding my decision to divorce because of abuse. I know my experience was not unique, so I’ve pivoted my blog by asking other Christians to share their experiences of divorce and the church, both good and not so good. I’ve discovered there are many such stories, and people are eager to share as guests. They’re thanking me for doing this, hoping that by sharing, we can bring some healing to them and the church.

    I’ve bought a domain name for the blog and am having business cards printed up to pass out to potential guest writers. I’ve also installed an email subscription pop-up. I’ve received three powerful stories so far, and serious interest from several others. I’m excited to see where this leads, and have put my manuscript submission on hold until the blog begins attracting attention. The first guest post will appear tomorrow.

    • Chad R. Allen

      Exciting, Linda! Thanks for sharing, and I’ll be eager to hear how things go for you.

  • Danie Botha

    ” …How do you accomplish the multiple long-arc projects on your plate? However you do it, you can use those same tactics to write your book and build a platform…”
    Plan. Manage your time. So, true, Chad!
    Once again, actionable steps.
    Be jealous of your time.
    Stick to a schedule.
    Have give-aways. This is something we underestimate–to get eyes on our site. Consider making one of your books (digital format) FREE for short or longterm period. Think of the longterm relationship you want to build with readers.
    Practical advice.
    Thanks, Chad!

  • Thanks for posting this Chad. Some good insights that ia m sure I will be putting to good use.

    • Chad R. Allen

      Terrific, Chad!

  • Christy Mobley

    I appreciate the suggestions Chad. I feel encouraged already!

    • Chad R. Allen

      Awesome!

  • Kim S

    LOVE this post, Chad! I know after the many writing conferences this summer, many are struggling through this. I’m posting it in our She Speaks group and sharing with my followers! Kim Stewart

    • Chad R. Allen

      Many thanks, Kim. I hope it’s helpful to your writer friends!

    • BethAnn Foro

      Thanks Kim, great idea. I’m in the She Speaks group as well as a follower of Chad’s and I loved this encouragement and great tips to incorporate the two – building a platform and writing a book. Thanks!

      • Chad R. Allen

        Thanks, BethAnn!