Obscurity is Your Nemesis
If you want to be a successful author, you need readers. In the “olden days” (maybe even just 10 years ago!), you published a book first and then built up a fan base. But today, with the rise and rise of social media and all-areas-access to everyone’s lives, it’s all about engaging with fans (and potential fans) well before your book even comes out. Yes, even while you’re still writing it.
Google your author name. Did you get search results like your website, Facebook page, Twitter profile, pictures you posted to Instagram, guest posts, book pages on Amazon and Goodreads? Those results are your author platform. It is a representation to the public of who you are and why they should care.
Book Publishers Like Big Platforms
Whether the author brings viewers through a TV show or readers through a popular blog, authors with a large platform of one kind or another are appealing to publishers. An author with an established audience assures that booksellers will take notice of the book, that the book will likely get media attention (audience feeds more audience), and that there are likely fans who will immediately buy the book – all good for the publishing business.
For that reason, literary agents, book editors and publishers look for the size of an author platform when considering a prospective author’s manuscript or proposal.
7 Ways to Build Your Platform
Register your domain name and URL, either under your name if you are building a public profile, or for the title of your book. Depending on your budget, you can set up a free website with WordPress.com or other similar platforms.
2. List building and email marketing
Use forms on your website to collect people’s email addresses to keep them updated about your book and other promotional content. Some authors also include a sign-up at the back of their book. This give you a way to inform your readers of future books and you can send out regular newsletters and links to your blogs.
Blogging is a great way to build attention and engage with your audience over time. A blog is a series of informative and interesting posts which relate to your main topics and your book in some way. It can be as diverse as your imagination, combining photographs, videos, art, music and text. Typically a blog would be incorporated into your website, but if you don’t have one you can set up a blog independently through a range of sites, including WordPress.com. You could also look to guest blog on other blogs that have a similar focus and audience to you.
4. Social media
Using a variety of social media channels is a wonderful way to engage with your audience. Depending on your genre you can connect with people on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and many other channels. Just be sure to pick your channel based on your research into your target audience so you can tap into the right networks. One of the biggest mistakes people can make on social media is making it all about themselves. Try to be useful, inspiring or entertaining and only occasionally promote yourself.
Appearing on your own podcast or as a guest of a regular podcaster is a fantastic way to build your profile. Podcasting is experiencing a massive resurgence at the moment and there are a wide variety of podcasts you could join.
Speaking at a conference or networking event is a wonderful way to increase your profile and engage with an audience. Start by finding events in your local area and then branch out from there once you have established some credibility.
Networking with like-minded people is a great way to let people know about your upcoming book and build excitement around your book or launch. Social networking is all about connecting with people, so remember to avoid the hard sell. Focus on building relationships with people, because behind every profile is a person. Over time these people could become great fans of your work, and advocates too.
Time in the market building your author platform and hard work will make all the difference to your brand, platform size and your potential influence. For most authors, marketing is a big step out of their comfort zone but it is well worth the effort.
Remember: building your platform is like an endurance race and not a sprint.
Have you duct-tapped together your website, social media and other online assets and struggling to get results?
If you want some help fine-tuning your platform or “pulling it all together”, we can help. Book a free Author Platform Review to receive specific recommendations on how to improve your digital footprint.