PRP 193 Melanie Herschorn | Author Platform Strategy


What is an author platform strategy, and why do you need it? Today’s guest is Melanie Herschorn, a content marketing strategist at VIP Digital Content. In this episode, she joins Juliet Clark to break down the importance of strategizing your book marketing before you even start working on your next project. Melanie is on a mission to support and empower her clients to create clear messaging and content that shines a light on their individuality. A book doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. It is a tool. Learn more about optimizing your marketing strategy, having the right lead magnet, and audience building by tuning in.

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Melanie Herschorn On Why You Need an Author Platform Strategy

We have one of our magazine contributors on to talk a little bit about book strategy. Before we get started, I have to remind you to run over to and get your free subscription. There are lots of tips, tricks, authors, and all sorts of things in there to help you with your writing, publishing, and book marketing journey. If you are someone who likes to watch this on video versus maybe listening on iTunes or reading the blog over at Superbrand Publishing, you can go over and follow us. Subscribe on YouTube at Superbrand Publishing.

Our guest is Melanie Herschorn. She wants to make your book and brand sparkle online as a content marketing strategist for coaches, consultants, and speakers worldwide. She’s got a mission to support and empower her clients to create clear messaging and content that shines a light on their individual experiences, skillset, and books. With her unique combination of entrepreneurship, award-winning journalism, and PR experience, Melanie guides her clients to attract, nurture leads, and position them as industry experts. She also loves to provide book marketing tickets on her show AUTHORity Marketing LIVE.

Melanie, it’s nice to see you. How are you?

Thank you, Juliet. I’m so happy to be here, and I’m doing great.

Melanie is a contributor to Breakthrough Author Magazine. Her specialty is book marketing strategy. Before you say, “I didn’t do that. I can’t afford it,” you can’t afford not to. We’re going to talk about why this is an important first step that should be going on while you’re writing that book, not afterward, but at least starting a year out and understanding how to get that audience built, attracted, and using that book as the nurture tool when you launch to get them into your bigger programs. If you don’t have that going on way in advance, the chances are that you’re not going to have a strategy that works. Talk a little bit about what else is involved in this author platform building strategy.

It starts with messaging. A lot of people overlook that. They think that, “I know what my book’s about. I’m good.” The truth is you have to dive deeper than that. You have to remember what your mission is, why you wrote the book in the first place, what your goal with the book is, and what transformation you want the reader to get. That has to always be front and center in your mind.

You have to figure out who you’re talking to. A lot of people say, “I wrote the book for me.” That’s great. You read it, too, I bet. If you want other people to read it as well, you want to make sure the psychographics. You’ve got to figure out who your ideal reader truly is. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? Why would they care about your book? I wish I could sugarcoat it more, but the truth is when somebody looks at a piece of content, open an email, and look at a post on social media, all they’re thinking about is, “What’s in it for me?” You have about one second to give them a reason before they keep going.

Here are some other things. Sarah and I were doing a talk. Sarah has some great statistics about how long your content sticks around, choosing that content where you put it, and what your expectation is. It was amazing because it was on Facebook or Instagram that it averages six hours. That’s it. Other things like a podcast or YouTube have a longevity of 6 months to 9 months. They pretty much become evergreen.

PRP 193 Melanie Herschorn | Author Platform Strategy

The Granny Panties of Book Marketing

It’s not just about what you’re doing, but is it something you’re doing consistently? How are you building it? What are you building? I love that you brought up the reader because how many books have you seen out there that it’s all about the author? That isn’t a great way to do it. I’m going to tell you the result of what happens when you don’t use somebody like Melanie. You go out with your book and say, “Buy my book.” You do posts like that all day.

Nobody’s looking. Nobody cares. They start hitting the mute button. If you don’t know this, the mute button on Facebook and some of these other platforms is pretty much a digital restraining order. They’re sick of you. You have stalked them. You don’t want to be like that. You put all this together. Let’s talk a little bit about the brand alignment and how that book has to align to that bigger piece that you’re selling and how that fits in with your brand.

The book doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A book is a tool. You leverage that tool to grow your income, whether you are writing a book to get people to be aware of a program you’re launching, a course you have, or you want to be speaking on stages. All that stuff goes back to your book. It is not the be-all and end-all. We want to sell books, but it’s so much more than that.

How does that fit in with your brand as a whole? If you are a life coach and your book is about poetry, unless you’re a poetic life coach, they’re not going to go together. When I work with my clients, we’re taking a look at the book. What is the book about? Who does it serve? How does it inform what you do in your brand as a whole?

If you are an executive coach, for example, and you’ve written a book about conscious leadership. We’re talking about a client who I love. She is an executive coach. She is looking to grow her business by showing people the coaching she can provide and by turning corporate culture on its head. It’s all-encompassing. It’s not, “I wrote a book. Buy my book.” It’s, “I wrote a book. Here is what I’m all about. Here is how I can help you in my business and the world.”

A poetic life coach is called a rapper. Middle-aged women do rap. That is so true. That book has to be not only in alignment with your brand but it has to be in alignment with that next step. That book is a nurture tool. There are tons of people who do what Melanie and I do. Most of the time, people hire us because our personality and values all resonate. People find out about that in the book. It’s the content that brings people into trusting you. If they trust you and jump on that call with you, your values resonate, and you hit it off personality-wise, a lot of times, they’re going to hire you because of that. That’s important, too.

The book doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The book is a tool. You leverage that tool to grow your income. Click To Tweet

We get so many books about the entrepreneur and not the reader experience. That’s also why when you’re working with someone like Melanie. You need to be working with a book development coach so that everybody has their messaging on board. Melanie and I did this before. We get a book from a book development, and they’ve said, “Art therapy is your thing.” We look at it and are like, “That’s not your audience.” It ends up that they’ve prepped for something else. How do you work with them on content and getting it out there? Is it a test of your audience building?

What I do the first thing when I work with a client is read their book, which is a perk of the job for me. A lot of the time, I get to read books that aren’t out yet in the world. I’m going through and pulling out all the content that will resonate with the ideal reader that we’ve already figured out. There are zones of genius. My zone of genius is to listen to somebody talk to me for an hour, and then I can boil down everything they’ve said into one sentence, which is good. I get that because I’m the child of a very long-winded parent. I was always saying, “Can you get to the point, please?”

When we get to the point, it’s very clear to me who we are trying to reach. Often at that point for a client, they already know who they’re trying to reach as well. There are vanity publications. There are people who want to write a book for the sake of writing a book. That’s great. Congratulations, but that’s not going to help you with that next step. When it comes to messaging and figuring out what to say, it’s often in your book. Sometimes it takes a marketing support person to look at it from a different angle and say, “Here’s what you’re saying and who you’re talking to.”

It’s not only that. When I mentioned art therapy, we have gotten books where the book development person says, “This is who it is.” We look at that and go, “That market is saturated. You’re never going to stand out in that market.” That’s where it’s important upfront to research and find that market. We have someone, and we’re changing what she calls herself because it’s very woo-woo. It’s not going to work in a professional nonfiction marketplace. That might be part of a branding problem.

It very well could be. I like to say I’m the barometer of confusion because if somebody says something to me, I look at them and pay attention. I say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” If I don’t know what you’re talking about and I’m trying, your potential client is not going to know what you’re talking about. They’re never going to hear you because they’re not going to care, and they’re going to keep going.

Let’s go back to messaging. You can take a book that you’ve written. We’re talking about art therapy being a saturated market. There’s got to be an angle. Maybe the author of this book had something happen in their childhood that you can take that angle. They only reach out to people who have been adopted who need art therapy, for example. That’s an angle and a potential way to market it. Everything that you and I do is very customized. It’s not a cookie-cutter conveyor belt. I do custom strategies for each book and author because everybody is unique. It’s not just one size fits all.

PRP 193 Melanie Herschorn | Author Platform Strategy

Author Platform Strategy: You have to remember your mission, why you wrote the book in the first place, what your goal with the book is, and what kind of transformation you want the reader to get.


Melanie goes out and develops a strategy. You have to follow it. You have to have action. You have to blueprint it. That’s another thing that I see out there. They spend a lot of money on these things and don’t implement them. That audience building is hard, but you have to get in there and work. You have to do it without clicks.

Having a big funnel is not going to get you those high-ticket clients. You have to be able to start building relationships, not only the power partners. You have to develop those early, but also who are those people you can reach to that are not only going to buy the book, share the book, but become those high ticket clients for you.

That starts with conviction marketing and relationship marketing. It’s got all these words, but you can’t spray it out online and walk away. You have to be strategic in what you post. You have to engage with the people who are responding to your posts. That’s how you create that excitement about you and your book. That is how you grow your audience of loyal graving fans.

You have to be yourself. All of you are like, “Authentic.” It’s so overused, but that’s what’s going to get you hired. It’s you being out there and being real. Real doesn’t mean TMI. We don’t want to know that you’re in a child custody battle and you’re a life coach. The last thing we want to know is about your drama. You’d be surprised by the stuff people do on social media that ruins the platform.

There are some people who love giving too much information, and maybe that’s their thing. There are others who feel they are so inhibited and don’t want to give any information. That’s fine too. You can find your balance. You don’t have to be all out there. I’ll never forget watching an Insta story from the owner of this multimillion-dollar baby company. It was a video of her toes. She was talking about how her middle toe is longer than her big toe. She did not have some attractive feet either. I kept thinking, “Why is this relevant? I don’t know.”

People don’t think about things like this. What else is in the author platform building? There’s social media development and brand development. One of the biggest mistakes you and I see is when nothing is in alignment. Their lead magnet to build their list is different from the course or webinar. It’s crazy how out of alignment some of this stuff is.

When somebody looks at a piece of content, all they're thinking about is “What's in it for me?” Click To Tweet

One of the things that I am so adamant about is creating a lead magnet with clients. It has to be the step before somebody buys your book. Unless your book is your lead magnet, which can work in certain circumstances, but in general, never give away the first chapter of your book.

Any part of your book, don’t do it.

Nobody knows you. They’re not going to get just the first chapter. The first chapter is not going to give them the quick win they would need to show them you are good at what you do. It’s not the beginning of your customer journey. The beginning of your customer journey is a lead magnet, which will show them, “Juliet’s great at publishing. I figured out how to do X, Y, and Z. Thanks to this freebie. I want to get her book and learn more.” They read the book and go, “I want Juliet to publish my book.” That’s how the customer journey works. If you mess it up at the beginning, they’re not coming back.

Ours is Breakthrough Author Magazine, and it’s a lead magnet for all of us. We’ve only disseminated two of them, and some people have gotten leads already from it as part of our contributors. It has to be something that’s informational and not salesy. I can’t stress that enough. Your first introduction to that lead magnet is you’re not selling people anything, not even leading. You’re starting the conversation to trust.

Let’s say you’re on online dating. You meet somebody and have a conversation. Your lead magnet is your, “Oh. I want to know more.” You go to dinner with someone, and that’s that second step. If that person walks in and says, “Melanie, you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Let’s go get married,” that’s too soon.

Melanie’s probably running off to the bathroom with her purse. She’s got her Uber app out. You look through your purse for the screwdriver to let yourself out the emergency exit door because it was creepy. That’s why we start so far out. You have to have that lead magnet ready, start building that audience, and start nurturing that audience.

PRP 193 Melanie Herschorn | Author Platform Strategy

Author Platform Strategy: You can’t just spray it out online and walk away. You have to be strategic in what you post.

That low barrier book product brings them into even more our trust and then up to those bigger products. That’s why it’s so important to work with someone like her because you can’t fly by the seat of your pants and expect to have the island next to Richard Branson from books. It doesn’t happen. Only Richard Branson sells that many books to have his island.

There are people who want to jump into sales right away. Unfortunately, that is going to turn your potential reader or client off. There is no coming back from that.

You have to temper this into, “I’m nurturing. We’re dating.” When you can get in that mindset, don’t date for five years. Melanie, where can we find you if we want to find out more about book strategy, what we need to do to put one together, and what it takes?

I am on all the socials. My company is called VIP Digital Content. I also have a free gift that I can give to your readers, which is The Ultimate Book Marketing Checklist. You can grab that at VIPDigital.Live/Checklist.

Melanie, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

It’s my pleasure, Juliet.


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About Melanie Herschorn

PRP 193 Melanie Herschorn | Author Platform StrategyMelanie Herschorn wants to make your book and brand sparkle online. As a content marketing strategist for coaches, consultants, and speakers worldwide, she’s on a mission to support and empower her clients to create clear messaging and content that shines a light on their individual experience, skillset, and books. With her unique combination of entrepreneurship, award-winning journalism and PR experience, Melanie guides her clients to attract and nurture leads and position themselves as industry experts. She also loves to provide book marketing tips on her show, AUTHORity Marketing LIVE!