This Site is Secure

This author platform definition explains why platform is important, includes platform examples, and shows how to build an author platform. This article is for writers of all book genres: fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books.

This article is part of our free 15-part guide about How to Get a Literary Agent. If your goal is to Get a Fiction Literary Agent, Get a Nonfiction Literary Agent, or Get a Children’s Book Literary Agent you’ll find everything you need to know about author platform here.

Literary agent in brown suit with tie introducing writers to learn about author platform
Group of literary agents talking about the definition of author platform, wearing suits

What Is Author Platform?

The best author platform definition is: a) Your credibility as a writer and/or topic expert, and b) Your ability to get visibility for your book; in other words, how many people can you expose your book to when it’s published–people likely to buy a book like yours?

Most definitions of platform by other people are incomplete or too narrow, including those by respected people in the publishing industry. Many established authors, literary agents, and book publishers simply say platform is the number of people you have in your contact database, or the number of followers you have on an email list or social media.

That’s an oversimplification.

It’s best to define author platform more broadly.

In short, literary agents want to work with writers who are professional, knowledgeable about their genre and topic, and willing and able to do a good job promoting their books. In other words, when you’re trying to get a book agent, you’re not just selling your book.

You’re selling yourself.

Up to 50% of a literary agent’s decision to offer you representation will be based on your author platform. That percentage will vary based on the genre of your book, and how much weight any given literary agent puts on author platform.

Why Is Author Platform Important?

If a literary agent represents too many authors whose books don’t sell, the agent won’t be an agent very long. And if a publisher acquires too many books that don’t sell, they’ll find themselves out of work as well..

Imagine being single, hoping to find the love of your life. What type of person would you want? You might create a list of things you want in your ideal partner. For starters, you might say you want someone who’s both a good person and good looking.

After all, why would you choose someone who isn’t a good person, or someone you aren’t attracted to?

That’s author platform, in a nutshell.

Literary agents and publishers want writers with good books and the ability to promote those books. Book agents and legitimate book publishers can be selective, as they have lots of “suitors” who want to form a relationship with them.

Literary agents and publishers know that if they hold out for someone who’s the complete package, they’re more likely to be happy. Creating partnerships with authors who have good platforms is less risk–a safer investment for the agent and publisher.

Times Have Changed

Decades ago, you didn’t need an author platform to get a book deal. You could get a publishing contract as a means to establish your platform. Now, especially if you’re writing nonfiction (including memoir), you more often than not need a platform to get a book deal.

A very small number of literary agents actually say they only represent authors who have at least 500,000 followers. That’s ridiculous. Don’t worry. You don’t need an author platform like that–or any platform, in a small number of cases–to get a literary agent.

However, you should do your best to prove to agents you have the ability to get your book in front of that many people. Later in this article, you’ll see author platform examples and strategies to help you do just that.

Author Platform Frustration

At this point you might be thinking literary agents have it easy–that book agents want authors to do their job for them.

That’s not it.

Literary agents experience the same thing authors do: the disappointment of investing time in books, pitching them, and (sometimes) failing to sell them. That’s why literary agents prefer authors with good books and platforms. With both those things, literary agents know the author they’re representing is more likely to be successful.

It’s like a romantic relationship…

If you want to be with someone you’re physically attracted to, that doesn’t mean that’s all you care about. Similarly, the fact that author platform is important to literary agents doesn’t mean that’s all they care about.

The most desirable prospects (in love and in the literary world) have choices because they get “propositioned” a lot. So, which author platform strategies can you apply that will make your author platform more attractive?

Author Platform Examples and Strategies

These author platform examples will help you decide which strategies you should implement. You don’t need to apply all of them, especially if you’re a novelist or children’s book author. But if you want to increase your Odds of Getting a Literary Agent, you shouldn’t just communicate your willingness to promote your book in your literary agent query letter. You should also use some of the following platform-building strategies, prior to querying agents.


Writers of all book genres can build their author platform by contacting influencers or relevant “influencers” to get blurbs.

The purpose of this is to ask people relevant to your book genre, topic(s), and/or theme(s) and ask if they’d be willing to accept a review copy of your book. When someone responds with a yes or maybe, they’re saying they might read your book (or part of it); provide a blurb or quote that might be used for promotional purposes; and promote the book in one or more other ways such as an announcement on their website or social media, or to their email list, etc. The most obvious influencers to ask are authors of books in your genre.

When you research literary agents, you’ll see some of them have endorsements from authors they represent. Some don’t. You’ll trust the literary agents who have testimonials more than those who don’t. The same logic applies when querying literary agents. If you have blurbs or commitments for blurbs, literary agents will believe more in your writing–and they’ll believe more in your ability to promote your writing.

Social Media

Having one or more social media accounts is another strategy that authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books) can apply to build their author platform. There are two main ways authors can use social media to bolster their platform.

The first option is obvious: Create one or more social media accounts and get followers. Having a social media account(s) is better than not having one. And any number of followers is better than none. The second thing authors can do is join social media groups with many members, related to their book genre, topic(s), and/or theme(s). This is a smart author platform strategy because it’s easier to join groups with lots of followers than it is to get a lot of your own followers.

The more social media followers you have and/or the more groups you’re part of with lots of followers, the more influential you’ll be. When it’s time to promote your published book, you’ll have an easier time making a large number of people aware of your book, and you’ll sell more books.

Best Social Media Platforms for Authors

The two best social media platforms for authors are Facebook and LinkedIn. Those two social media platforms have many groups that are easy to find using search keywords related to your book genre, topic(s), and/or theme(s). It’s also easy for authors to quickly join groups on those two social media platforms.


Beyond having one or more social media accounts, having a website or blog helps strengthen an author’s platform. It establishes credibility, and literary agents prefer nonfiction authors be knowledgeable or somewhat known as an expert on the topic they’re writing about. For example, if you’ve written a self-help, business, spirituality, or science book, you can imagine literary agents might be curious about your expertise and standing in that area.

By the way, when you research book agents, you’ll see some (not many, but some) of them don’t have websites. You’ll probably think to yourself, Gee, how committed or successful can those people be if they don’t have websites? Literary agents think the same thing when they see nonfiction authors without websites.

Leadership Roles

If you see a literary agent say something in their bio like they’re President of the Authors Guild and the former President of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, you’ll have greater respect for them and believe in them more. Your perception of their professional ability and standing in the literary agent community will improve. Literary agents react similarly when reading about authors pitching books.

Is there anything in your background regarding leadership roles you might communicate to literary agents? Something that might make them believe you could do a better job than someone else writing a book like yours. Or something that would make them believe you could do a good job promoting your book. Is there a new leadership role you could take on that would be good for you and help with literary agents?

Experience, Recognition, Awards, and/or Accomplishments

Have you accomplished something noteworthy or received recognition relevant to the content in your book? Those things will make literary agents believe you can do a better job than other authors writing a book like yours. Those things will also help literary agents believe you’re in a better position to promote your book well.

For example, maybe you’ve written a novel about someone running a winery, or you’ve written a nonfiction book about how to make wine. If so, have you done extensive research? Traveled extensively to Napa? Been a winemaker? Won awards for your craft wine?

What about writing awards? Winning or placing in book contests, even for a different genre, is proof you’re an above average writer. Just don’t spend money on writing contests if you’re on a tight budget. Writing competitions are often competitive, so this is more of a long-shot. And make sure you research any writing contest before entering it because some are more reputable and prestigious than others.

Now, let’s “flip the script” again for a moment.

What if you’re an author looking for a literary agent who represents children’s books? Wouldn’t you want a literary agent with a track record placing children’s books with major publishers? A literary agent representing authors who’ve won awards? A literary agent representing one or more bestselling authors?

You might take a chance on an unproven literary agent with no accomplishments or accolades–but you’d probably be less optimistic about what that literary agent might do for you. We all look for evidence that people, projects, and relationships we’re thinking about investing in aren’t going to be a waste of time.

Published Writing

When you research literary agents, you’ll see some of them have had articles published in well-known writer magazines and/or on well-known writer websites and blogs. You’ll trust those literary agents more than those who haven’t had articles published.

Similarly, literary agents will have greater faith in your ability–as a writer and as a promoter–if you’ve had something(s) published. That writing may or may not be related to the topic material in your book. Even if your published writing is about something else, it will reinforce the fact that you’re a competent writer.

  • Fiction authors can have short stories published in popular or prestigious journals and anthologies.
  • Nonfiction authors can have articles published on popular websites and blogs, or in well-known newspapers, magazines, newsletters, or journals.

Writing Published About You

You can also strengthen or build your author platform by having things written and published about you, your ideas, your writing, your business, or anything else you’re involved with or part of. If you’re a nonfiction author, it’s best if the exposure or coverage is about your knowledge or experience related to the material in your book. But it doesn’t need to be. Exposure is exposure. Literary agents know that if you can get exposure for anything, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll also be able to get exposure later to sell your book.


One misconception that prevents authors from building their author platform prior to querying literary agents is that they need a book to do interviews. You don’t. You just need to be a good storyteller and/or have information/inspiration people will find interesting or valuable. That’s all you need to do any type of interview (TV, radio, podcast, print, or online).

You don’t need to do many interviews (or any) to get a literary agent. Especially if you’re a fiction author. In fact, regardless of your book genre, you should do most interviews after your book is published, using the coverage to sell books. But if you do one or two or a few interviews prior to querying, literary agents will know you have content people are interested in. They’ll know you’re willing and able to promote your book.


Speaking is identical to interviews when it comes to building your author platform. In other words, you don’t need a published book to do speaking engagements–or to get paid for speaking engagements. You simply need to be a good storyteller and/or have information and/or inspiration people find interesting or valuable.

And, as with interviews, you don’t need experience as a public speaker to get a literary agent, especially if you’re an aspiring fiction author. But no matter what genre your book fits into, speaking is additional proof for literary agents that you have content that people are interested in, and that you’re willing and able to promote your book.

Author Education

You don’t need to be a college graduate or even a high school graduate to get a literary agent. You also don’t need to invest in books about writing; writer workshops, courses or classes; beta readers; a developmental book editor or copyeditor; or an author coach or consultant.

On the other hand, if you have the means and patience to invest in any of those things, they’ll likely make you better and will make literary agents trust your writing more. You might also be able to get influential people associated with those things to say they’ll help promote your book if it’s published.


Do you have connections that would make literary agents trust you more? That you might be able to do a better job writing a book like yours than someone else? Or that you might be able to do a better job than most authors promoting a book like yours? Personal, professional, or academic connections?

What about friends of friends?

Some writers have many connections. Many don’t have any. Remember, you don’t need everything you see in this author platform article to get a literary agent. These author platform examples are to challenge you to do some things–and ensure you communicate everything you do have to literary agents.

Email List

Most aspiring authors don’t have large email lists, and there’s no easy way to quickly build a large email list without spending a lot of time and/or money. That’s why this option appears near the end of this list of author platform examples.

Building an email list is not a strategy most authors should consider or spend much time on when trying to get a literary agent. You’ll get a greater return focusing on some of the other author platform examples explained above.


Most unpublished authors (and most published authors) aren’t famous. If you’re not a celebrity, there’s probably not much (or anything realistic) you can do to change that. That’s why this item is at the very bottom of this list of author platform examples.

The only reason celebrity is mentioned in this author platform article is to acknowledge a truth that should be self-evident: Literary agents like authors who are famous or very well-known, because books written (or ghostwritten) by such authors usually sell a lot of books. However, very few literary agents will reject you just because you’re not famous.

How to Build An Author Platform

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to building an author platform. Consider the author platform examples in this article–and the amount of commitment, ability, time, and money you’re willing and able to invest.

  • Commitment: Authors of all book genres can, and should, commit to learning more about how to build an author platform before querying literary agents. The more important your book is to you, the more time you should invest in your platform. For example, authors who already have agents employ some of the strategies above on an ongoing basis, to consistently grow their author platform. This increases the likelihood their books will sell well, and that those writers be able to continue having productive and profitable relationships with their literary agents and publishers.
  • Ability: You don’t need to be young, an extrovert, or computer-savvy to grow or build an author platform. You simply need to be committed and put in the time. Building an author platform isn’t necessarily easy–and most authors, at least at first, don’t like doing it. However, what matters more is that any writer can build their author platform.
  • Time: The amount of time authors invest in building an author platform varies greatly. Some successful writers (usually fiction authors) spend little to no time improving their platform before querying book agents. Rightfully so, because platform is far less important for novelists. However, nonfiction authors often spend more than one hundred hours, or hundreds of hours, strengthening or building their author platform prior to querying. Whether you do a little or a lot, you should plan to spend somewhere between a few weeks and a few or many months to implement the author platform strategies above that seem like a good fit for you–if you’re committed and organized.
  • Money: You don’t need to invest anything financially to build an author platform. You simply need to invest time. Social media is free. You can create a website at no cost as well. And sending out emails doesn’t cost anything either. All the author platform examples in this article can be implemented at no expense. That said, if you have the means and desire to get help so you can speed up the process–and be more effective–you can do that, and you should do that. Building or improving an author platform can be time-intensive and overwhelming, even with support and shortcuts.

Author Platform – Conclusion and Invitation

When it comes to author platform, literary agents often say, “Show me proof, not promises.” In other words, book agents aren’t persuaded by authors who simply say they’ll follow any promotional strategy a literary agent or publisher might suggest. They’re also not persuaded by promises to promote a book using “every marketing strategy known to humanity.”

Those things are air.

They don’t have weight.

Don’t get me wrong. Literary agents like seeing promises–but those promises are better when paired with concrete details about specific things you’ve already done. Things that make your promises plausible. Agents like proof the promises will happen.

So, when it comes to building your author platform–and explaining your author platform to literary agents in your query letter and/or book proposal–take your time.

Do it right.

And if you want to talk about the best way to improve or build your author platform (and you’re not already a coaching/consulting client), click here to learn about scheduling a 1-on-1 Literary Agent Advice Session. During the session we’ll talk about the best strategies for your unique situation, and the most effective and efficient way to implement them.

This article, “Author Platform Definition – Create or Improve Your Platform?” was written by Mark Malatesta, former literary agent turned author coach, and creator of The Directory of Literary Agents, host of Ask a Publishing Agent, and founder of Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.

Mark has helped hundreds of authors get offers from book agents and/or traditional book publishers. Writers of all Book Genres have used our Literary Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get the Top Publishing Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on our List of Literary Agents.

See more results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Get free instant access to the official Directory of Literary Agents, and our article/audio training library. Click here to see all that’s included in our Getting a Literary Agent resource center.

How I Got My Book Agent

Successful Authors

Photo of author NJ sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

Thanks in part to your query letter, manuscript suggestions, and support prioritizing agents, I received multiple offers from agents. Within two weeks of sending out the first query, I knew who I was going to sign with. I value our friendship.

N E L S O N . J O H N S O N

NY Times bestselling author of Boardwalk Empire, produced by Martin Scorsese for HBO, and Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer

NJ Book Cover for BE on boardwalk with cast from the HBO TV series, posted by Get a Literary Agent

Photo of author LL sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

After following your advice, my book was acquired, the prestigious PW gave it a great review, and Time Magazine asked for an excerpt. Thank you for believing in my book, and for helping me share the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part!

L E S L I E . L E H R

Author of A Boob's Life: How America's Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster and now in development for a TV series by Salma Hayek for HBO Max

LL Book Cover posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Photo of author SL sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

Fine Print Lit got publishers bidding against each other [for my book]. I ended up signing a contract with Thomas Nelson (an imprint of Harper Collins) for what I’ve been told by several people is a very large advance. What cloud is higher than 9?

S C O T T . L E R E T T E

Author of The Unbreakable Boy (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins), adapted to feature film with Lionsgate starring Zachary Levi, Amy Acker, and Patricia Heaton

SL Book Cover for TUB with photo of boy on beach with jester hat at sunset, posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Photo of author MLP sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

AHHH! OMG, it happened! You helped me get three offers for representation from top literary agents! A short time later I signed a publishing contract. After that, my agent sold my next book. I’m in heaven!

M I R I . L E S H E M . P E L L Y

Author/illustrator of Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper (Penguin Books/Philomel), Scribble & Author (Kane Miller), and other children’s picture books

MLP book cover of S and A with paintbrush drawing cute animated figured, posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Book agent in brown suit on the Ask a Literary page of Get a Literary Agent

Find answers to all your book agent questions. Search our Ask a Literary Agent FAQ and/or post your question(s).

Photo of Mark Malatesta - Former Literary Agent MARK MALATESTA is a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark now helps authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children's books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author. Mark's authors have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the NYT bestseller list, and published with houses such as Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson. Click here to learn more about Mark Malatesta and see Mark Malatesta Reviews.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

News and updates to get a literary agent, publisher, and book deal.

You've successfully subscribed!