The insanity of my approach to building an author's platform

By Matt De Reno | August 28, 2019

My goal is to write a fantastic book about technology, aliens, conspiracies. I will need to wrap that story around believable, interesting characters that are asked to do extraordinary things to succeed and save humanity. That is a task in itself. However, once that story is told, I need a platform to tell people about it. That is task of a different nut.

To do so, I am embarking on somewhat of a nutty idea. I want to build a community directory website—a guide to the shops and services that are around me in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. The goal of this community website will be to sell my book.

Will it work? Not sure. However, there is little downside to this approach. I have the added benefit of contributing useful content to our community to say nothing of keeping my web skills sharp and tight.

The idea is to champion my community website by delivering a directory that contains trusted and curated content. Of the folks that visit this directory, my goal is to get a percentage of those people—the ones that presumably like science fiction thriller novels—to buy, or find out how to buy, my book.

The reason I think this is a bit nutty is because I tried a community news site before and it failed. My partner and I poured our heart and soul into it, but still, it didn’t make a buck that could support us in a way that justified the hours we put into it. Our central problem was that we wanted to charge customers to subscribe—just a buck a week. Not enough folks came forward.

However, the site became a valuable resource. We simply did not understand at the time how that value we delivered could be appropriately monetized. There is no shame in that because news ventures in general have found that a tough nut to crack too.

Still, our site drew traffic. It was the talk of the community—and that community is roughly about 40,000 residents, not including the surrounding areas that come to our shopping centers because it is the retail hub in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Now, all these folks sound like potential readers to me. If I had a book to sell then, I would have had a platform to do it—to get started.

I live in Ross Township, Pa. The site we had going was AcrossRoss.com. You can read about here on this site and you can also see that I am putting it back up—this time as a guide to the area.

The monetization model? It is simple: sell The Midas Protocol when it is ready for publication and to build a following around it.

I have the idea of a mobility engineering directory too. This site will be a who’s who in automated and connected vehicle technology. Therefore, this mobility directory project too could be viewed as an effort to sell my Midas Protocol series—to extend my authorial platform—by providing content that is interesting to large numbers of folks, all potential customers for my stories.

In exchange for providing useful, informative information, I am asking folks to check out my book. I may not be aware of who else is doing something similar but I am aware that there is a name for this sort of thing. It is called content marketing and it might not be a nutty idea after all.