I Need a Platform, Pronto!

Impressive author platforms aren’t built overnight. But you can show agents and publishers you’re serious, motivated, and making waves


Jane Friedman


Live on August 18, 2022, or watch recording


First-time nonfiction authors


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

It is perhaps the most frustrating and disliked rejection in all of publishing:

You don’t have a sufficient author platform.

What do agents and publishers mean by that? It’s always a combination of factors, but bottom line, they don’t think you or your book is going to attract the kind of visibility that will drive sales. Sometimes it’s because you don’t have an online presence, or maybe you don’t have a strong network that can help spread the word. Other times agents perceive a lack of credibility or authority that would help ensure the book gains media attention.

The bad news? Building a platform isn’t an overnight process, one-time event, or A-to-B process. You don’t wake up one day and have a sufficient platform that checks all the boxes. Most platforms are rooted in your longtime life experience: the schools attended or degrees earned, the companies or institutions you’ve served or belong to, the relationships you’ve cultivated in person and online. It’s the sum of everything you are and have done. It’s what you’ve become known for over time. Just as you can’t become a trusted authority after a few hours of effort (at least in most industries!), it’s not possible to build a platform in a few hours that would make a dramatic and meaningful difference to your book pitch next week or next month.

But platform also represents potential and it can grow. Sometimes it can grow very fast indeed, especially if you have focus and discipline—if you know who you want to reach, if you know what you want to say, and if you know what you stand for.

In this 90-minute class, I Need a Platform, Pronto!, Jane Friedman will give you a roadmap for building out your platform based on the strengths and experiences you have today. She’ll focus on activities and relationships that matter to agents and publishers, and how to start making waves—gaining more attention and visibility in your community. The goal: demonstrate your ability and potential to capture a bigger audience than you have today.

While no agent or publisher wants to hear about what you hope or dream will happen—or about what you “plan” to do—you can show them what you are doing, and demonstrate you know (or you can learn) what buttons to press to bring attention and readership to your door.

This class will cover:

  • Why platform matters so much to agents and Big Five publishers, and what they’re looking for (they say they want certain social media numbers, sure—but does that matter as much as they say it does?)
  • How to assess your strengths and uncover any platform superpowers you might have (most writers miss what’s in their own backyard because they get overly focused on social media)
  • Where to look for quick wins that will help bolster your nonfiction book proposal and marketing plan
  • How to develop a platform statement and/or marketing plan that ignores social (if necessary) but still looks strong
  • If you want to spend time on social, how to do it effectively and what will make a difference (it’s not about increasing your numbers)
  • What to do (quickly!) about establishing an author website if you don’t have one
  • What to do if you still feel like building a platform is all but impossible (in brief: look for small and independent publishers)
  • The skills you’ll want to cultivate to make your efforts pay off in the years ahead (for career-long platform building)
  • Case studies of nonfiction authors who landed a book deal either by developing a platform or leveraging others’ platforms

Who should take this class

  • First-time authors of nonfiction (any category for the adult market—but not children’s)
  • Self-published nonfiction authors who want to secure an agent or move to a traditional publisher
  • Traditionally published nonfiction authors who are having trouble securing another book deal because of lack of platform

Who doesn’t need this class

  • Fiction writers and poets. You don’t need a platform to have your work seriously considered by an agent or publisher. If you’re told otherwise, you’re not being told the whole truth. Fiction writers and poets build platform by publishing their work; it is exceedingly difficult to build a platform prior to publication unless it’s for something other than your work.
  • Children’s writers. You are not expected to have a platform either. The work you publish is the foundation of your platform.
  • Many of the ideas and strategies discussed in this session will apply to writers regardless of genre. However, by far the best way to spend your time, if you write children’s work, poetry, or fiction, is to write, revise, and read—and build relationships with other writers in your genre/category.

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device.

When you register, you will receive an email from Zoom on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Thursday, August 18, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

About the instructor

Jane Friedman has spent nearly 25 years working in the book publishing industry, with a focus on author education and trend reporting. She is the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, which was named 2020 Media Outlet of the Year by Digital Book World.

Her latest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), which received a starred review from Library Journal. In addition to serving on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, she works with organizations such as The Authors Guild to bring transparency to the business of publishing.

I want to sincerely thank you so much for taking the time to prepare and present such a meaningful workshop. I still can’t get over the amount of content, feedback and value for money from this offering. Your expertise in the industry is just what I needed. I am so grateful that you have taken the time to share such valuable information with us.

Valerie L.

Over the last year or so, I found your The Business of Being a Writer book, your webinars, and your website. Had I started this adventure earlier, I’d like to think I would have evolved to doing as good a job at this as you are. Keep it up. You are professional, genuine, and provide value.

Linda E.

Jane’s webinar was outstanding on content and delivery. She honed in on points that I am unfamiliar with being new in the writing world. Her experience as an editor, writer, and publisher herself is very much appreciated. Jane’s willingness to share her knowledge with others in learning how to navigate the publishing industry is greatly appreciated. 

Sharon B.

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 75 minutes, Jane will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 90 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings. You will receive an email from Zoom with information on how to access the recording.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.