What is Considered a Strong Author Platform These Days?

Platform! Everyone’s favorite subject.

If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you’ll need to build a platform before getting a publisher and ideally, before you submit to agents.

Think of platform as a fun and positive part of the journey. Your goal is to build a community, to engage in conversations, and to become a trusted voice on your topic. Look at your platform as the training ground for your thoughts and ideas.

With a smaller publisher, you may not need as big of a platform because their sales expectations are more modest. The more popular your topic is, the bigger your platform will need to be. For example, if you’re writing about health & fitness, an incredibly crowded field in publishing where you see authors with upwards of a million followers, you’re going to need a pretty impressive platform in order to compete.

When we look at platform, we try to get a picture of “how many people you can reach.” So we’re looking at your email address list. Then we’re looking at your social media accounts (and you don’t need all of them — pick the ones that work best for you). We’re looking at your podcast downloads, your YouTube views, and in a non-pandemic world, your speaking engagements. We look at all of it.

Depending on the publisher and the subject area, if you’re approaching 20,000 followers, you’re looking pretty good. This means 20k on a single platform, not all added up.

There are SO MANY exceptions and disclaimers. I represent authors who are published and have fewer than 5k Instagram followers. But it’s getting harder to get published with those numbers. There are some situations in which you’ll need 100,000 followers in order to be noticed. However, since everyone is always asking me for a number, 20k is my answer. Maybe start putting feelers out to publishing when you pass the 10k mark and see how it goes. But if you’re shooting for the biggest publishers and you’re writing on a popular topic, set your platform goals much higher.

It’s important to embrace the GOOD things about building a platform! Namely the opportunity to engage with people and get your ideas out there.

Happy platform-building!

If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services

I also offer online courses here: Author School

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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!