When is the right time to build a platform?

when to start marketing a book

Now. Always, always now.

I was at a writer’s conference this weekend full of fabulous, motivated writers who were eager to crack the code of publishing. They had spent months, sometimes years, on their manuscripts, and they had worked extremely hard to polish those manuscripts and proposals to a perfect shine.

But, on occasion, I also heard a familiar refrain, one I hear often in the hundreds of query letters I receive a week: “My website is in the works…” “I plan to launch social media accounts …” “I will create a site to promote…”

The truth is, “I will…” has very little weight with publishers, agents, retailers, or any other gatekeeper. “I have…” is what we want to hear. “I have…” means you’re committed; you’re all in; you’re creating a community of customers now, before you even have a product.


The only time I’ve ever signed a nonfiction author who had no platform whatsoever, it was because her previous job required her to work undercover. That’s the only exception. So unless you have truly extenuating circumstances that are forcing you to stay off the radar, you should be out there, making your name and your brand known. {Here’s what that entails.}

Platform building matters a heck of a ton not just for writers, but also for creatives, entrepreneurs, artists—anyone who wants to connect their work with potential customers. Sure, you may have created the world’s greatest craft company, the defining novel of our generation, or the best financial app, but there’s a big risk you’ll launch to silence.

And silence sucks. Your work doesn’t deserve silence.

But if you start now to find likeminded people, to make them a part of your process, and to build their loyalty and goodwill, there’s a high probability those people will happily support your big launch. And you might just make some friends and learn some new things along the way.

3 thoughts on “When is the right time to build a platform?

  1. Thanks for the added encouragement! I have a author platform that’s been up and running for almost 2 years. The problem is that I don’t have a “product” to share yet. I blog about updates, motivation, and tips that I’ve learned or used in my own writing. Is there something else I can use for my platform until I have a novel to promote?

    1. That’s a great question! (Btw, I love your blog name. So cute.) Since you’re a fiction writer, maybe something like a short story or novella could be a good test run before launching your novel? You can also go in another direction and offer something that would be helpful to your readers and other fiction writers. Maybe it’s a little writing goals worksheet, or a longer workbook for outlining? You could sell it to experiment with selling through your platform, or even give it away for free as an incentive to attract more readers.

      And the other thing to keep in mind: you don’t necessarily need to have a product right away just because you have a platform! Sometimes it’s worth it to just build a readership over many years so that, when the time comes for a big launch like a debut novel, you have an engaged audience interested in it already.

      Hope that’s a bit helpful, or let me know if you have other questions!

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