When I ventured into the publishing world like an eager puppy in 2003, agents and editors asked me the same old tired question: “What’s your platform?” As one agent told me, “You need to have an audience of thousands that want to buy your book.”

Because the publishing industry, like so many others, cannot afford to take too many chances, authors are expected to come to the table with a ready-made audience. Determined to turn rejection into acceptance, I decided to take matters into my own hands. This recipe worked like a charm.

Whether you’re just starting out in publishing or you have dozens of books to your credit, having a platform is a sure-fire way to make agents and editors fall in love with you and to sell plenty of books. The quickest way to reach the finish line is to start on the Internet. Here are the steps to get started on your journey to publishing success.

1. Launch a Website: No matter where you are in the process, a website is a place to showcase your talents. Use yours to build an audience, share samples of your work, showcase your accomplishments and impress publishing professionals.

2. Host a Blog: A blog is essentially an online diary where you post brief entries (one to three paragraphs) about topics related to your work. This can be a wonderful creative outlet for a writer, not to mention a savvy promotion tool. Do it right and your audience will find you. You can peruse all kinds of blogs at www.BlogCatalog.com. To start yours, check out www.Typepad.com or www.Wordpress.com.

3. Publish a Newsletter: Build loyal fans for life by publishing an interesting electronic newsletter with content related to your book(s). My first newsletter went out to a whopping eight people several years ago. Today it goes out to thousands of subscribers. Get started with www.ConstantContact or www.iContact.com.

4. Form Online Partnerships: Find people who reach a similar target audience and look for ways to promote each other. You can publish articles on each other’s websites or newsletters, host an event or contest together or even share a blog. Be creative and pool your resources.

5. Get Some Experience: Write for industry publications and related websites to build your credibility. Writing opportunities are abundant on the Internet. Go out and find them.

6. Participate in Online Forums: Find online communities where your target audience looms and make a name for yourself by sharing information. If you really want to stand out, start and lead a group. A good place to start is groups.yahoo.com.

7. Leverage Social Networking: Sites like MySpace.com, LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com and countless others are ripe for finding and building an audience. Create an interesting profile and get active in social networking communities. The biggest cost here will be in your time so spend it wisely and identify the best opportunities to expand your reach.

8. Moderate Yourself: Everything you do on the Internet is subject to live on forever. Consider the image you want to portray and make sure everything you do and say reflects that.

9. Look the Part: Get a professional photo taken. Post it on all of your profiles so visitors can feel like they know you. You will also be glad you have that handy when a reporter comes along who can use it along with the profile they write about you!

10. Create a Bio: Many sites allow you to post a bio with your public profile. Make sure you have several versions of your bio readily available in short, medium and long formats. This will not only save you time in having to recreate it each time, but it will ensure that your message is consistent.

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie Chandler is the author of several business and marketing books including “The Author’s Guide to Building an Online Platform: Leverage the Internet to Sell More Books.” She is also the founder of www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs and www.TheBusinessGrowthConnection.com, a marketing company specializing in custom electronic newsletters. Sign up for her monthly newsletter for more tips of resources!