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Best of TOC, 3rd Edition by O'Reilly TOC Team

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Chapter 8. Marketing

The Core of the Author Platform Is Unchanged — It’s the Tools that Are Rapidly Changing

By Jenn Webb

Digital not only is affecting the way books are produced and consumed, it’s also affecting the way readers and authors interact. In the following interview, Jeff Potter (@cookingforgeeks), author of Cooking for Geeks, talks about the changing author platform, which is requiring authors to don marketing hats and connect with readers directly. He says the book as a product is expanding to include the conversations and communities surrounding the book.

Our interview follows.

What is an “author platform” and how is it different today from, say, 10 years ago?

Jeff Potter: There is so much amazing writing available online, whether curated by hand (New York Times, The Atlantic) or by community (Reddit, Hacker News). Readers today can satisfy most of their reasons for reading for little time and money. That’s a pretty big hurdle for a book author to compete with. I realized that, in order for people to want to spend time with my book, it was going to have to fit into a lifestyle that’s already full of amazing, quick content.

Readers are buying books as experiences, not just for the facts or knowledge, and a component of that is the author-reader relationship. A decade ago, it was a very one-directional conversation: The author wrote and the reader read; ideas and questions rarely flowed from reader to author or from reader to reader. Today, that’s no longer the case. Readers ...

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