This is serious stuff. You are probably thinking this is way out of your experience. It probably is but that’s not a reason not to have an author platform!
Why do I need an author platform?
If you want to demonstrate that you are serious about your craft and that people are interested in your work, then an author platform is a must. One of the main reasons for this is that publishing professionals like to see that you have a following before they decide to invest. Book publishing is a risk and it’s not particularly cheap. Therefore, literary agents and publishers like to undertake some due diligence. Your author platform will help them assess who you are, what you do and how people respond to your work.
What key attributes should an author platform have?
Your author platform is a perfect marketing tool for your author brand. It shows what you stand for, how professional you are. You might be saying, ‘Help! I am a newbie and an author platform is a step too far for me.’ Remember every single person has started from scratch with whatever it is they do. Every journey begins with the first step. This is what you are aiming to achieve.
Visibility is crucial
Your author platform gives you just that. It is a place where you can demonstrate your product, the kind of person you are, what you believe in. You can share advice, discuss author issues. By writing about your problems you can help others to see they are not alone. People might come back to you for regular insight. They might become fans and want your books because they rate your approach.
We all have a personal brand. We express that by the way we wear our hair (or not!) Our clothes, shoes, make up, our choice of watch are one way of communicating a message to those around us. On a less materialistic line how we act, what we do and say all allow people to form a view about who we are and what we stand for. An author platform does the same thing and helps us establish our author brand. You might have a political affiliation. You might support a cause. You might enjoy supporting and nurturing other writers. All those things help differentiate you from other authors on your own platform. You need to resonate with your audience. Ask yourself about what you surround yourself with and start doing the same kind of thing online. An author platform is an essential aspect of your publishing and writing journey.
You can read more about building an author platform on our blog. Meanwhile arrange a 30 minute exploratory call with one of our author platform mentors right here. (link to Calendly)
If you’re an aspiring author, you might have thought this at one point in your career: “An author platform? Publishers aren’t interested in that. They’re interested in reading my book.”
Whilst it’s undeniable that the most important part is, well, the writing, publishers and literary agents are increasingly interested in your author platform. This is particularly true if you’re a non-fiction author pitching a book proposal.
Why’s that? An author platform tells publishers that you can reach an audience and sell books. It signals that you’ve got:
- A sphere of influence, and
- Strength of brand
If your goal is to publish a book, these are advantages that you want to have. But what if you’re a first-time author starting completely from scratch? You’re not alone. Everyone has to begin somewhere. Here are five foolproof tips that will give you a boost in the right direction.
1 | IDENTIFY YOUR BRAND
You might think that brands are for corporates, such as Burger King, Coca-Cola, or United Airlines: companies that have a product to sell. But a book is a product. John Grisham attracts a certain set of readers. So does Ta-Nehisi Coates. Their brands differentiate them from the rest of the pack and help them stand out to audiences.
So it goes without saying that a brand is powerful. It works for companies and products, and it can work for you as an author if you build it with care.
To go about identifying your author brand, first ask yourself: How do you want to be known? When a non-reader hears your name for the first time in a conversation, what do you want to be said?
Your voice is one of the most crucial elements of your writing and you don’t want to stray too far from it in the public sphere. If you’re writing a dark horror book in the ilk of Stephen King, try not to use heart emojis excessively when you’re communicating with fans, for instance.
Above all, keep it consistent. Make it easy for a ready to recognise you and your work.
2 | CREATE A SIGN-UP FORM ON YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE
An author website is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to author platforms. Through it, you can:
- Connect with old fans and potential readers
- Strengthen your author brand; and
- Advertise your book to a wide audience
It’s a worthwhile investment to make – especially if you’re building an author platform from scratch. This is because it gives you a chance to put a sign-up form on your author website early on.
This sign-up form is key if you want to begin collecting your readers’ email addresses – with their permission of course! Email marketing is one of the oldest methods in the marketing book for a simple reason. It works. It grands you a direct line into reader’s online nerve centres: their inboxes.
Every person who visits your website becomes a potential reader. The math is simple: the more time that a sign-up form is on your website, the more readers you can get. Draw upon this to build the audience that your author platform needs by sending them personalised content or exclusive short stories to whet their appetite.
Pro-tip: Need inspiration for an author website? Here are examples of twelve author websites that work.
3 | ENGAGE YOUR FOLLOWERS ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
By ‘engage,’ I’m not saying that you should just churn out a tweet every five minutes about your new book ‘OMG, Go read and buy it here! #amwriting #thankyou.’
Don’t do that. Social media is an opportunity to create meaningful interactions with your readers. To take advantage of it properly, talk with your followers and establish friendly, relationships. Use your social media channels to remind people that there’s a real person behind the stock author photo.
Pro-tip: Feel free to think outside of the usual suspects (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). Youtube, for instance, has a burgeoning community of passionate readers. If you have an interest in video recording, why not build upon your strengths and try to create a following there? Experiment to see which social media channel allows you to gain the most traction.
4 | MAKE THE EFFORT TO INTERACT IN YOUR COMMUNITY
This might seem like it’s common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many authors ignore this part of the process. You should be known to the people in your field – and the best way to establish yourself in this community is to interact with this.
- Talking to folks on related forums,
- Attending and speaking at conferences, and
- Establishing relationships with fellow authors in your field.
No-one become an authority in a field by publishing a book and then staying in his or her own corner. Even if they don’t come to you at first, you should make the effort to go to them.
5 | START NOW
Ready? Here comes our biggest tip of all: start now. If you don’t have an author platform at the moment, that’s okay. But you need to start building one now.
You might point to writer who do have huge author platforms and say, “I can’t possibly match up to the platforms of bestselling authors!” But other people’s platforms didn’t magically Apparate, Harry Potter-style, either. They also had to begin from somewhere.
You’re not special in that respect. Everybody starts from zero – and everyone has the potential to hit the jackpot. It’s called an author platform because it’s just that: a raised surface on which you can stand and talk. And it’s up to you to build it, plank by plank.
So if you’re starting from scratch, remember these five tips – experience with them! – and begin assembling your platform!