Whether you plan to self-publish, indie publish or follow the traditional publishing route, building your author platform is a necessary part of your tool kit.
So what is an author platform?
Put simply, an author platform is your presence on the internet. It’s where you engage with the outside world, where your readers find and connect with you, where you build trust with your community, share your stories, and it’s from where you market your books.
Why is it important?
Writing is a solitary profession. Many writers, especially introverts, love nothing more than hiding behind closed doors and tapping away at their keyboard immersed in the world they’re writing. It’s what they do best. But if you want to have your work out there, acknowledged, read, and found – you need to be online.
Gone are the days where publishers have huge budgets in which to dedicate authors long-term marketing efforts. Sure, there will be assistance for authors publishing commercially, but with publicists and marketers stretched over multiple authors and book releases, time and budget is limited. Most commercial publishers require the author to do a fair chunk of the marketing these days. And if you are indie or self-publishing, well this is 100% your responsibility.
It’s not as hard (or time consuming) as you think.
Author platforms, brand building, and self-marketing can strike fear into the hearts of even the most extroverted authors. But it’s not as complicated as you think. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) method is one that is best applied in this instance. Keep it simple, be yourself, and be consistent.
It’s not about the hard sell, it’s about making connections and earing trust and credibility.
3 easy ways to build your author platform
Have a website
This is your home on the internet. It’s where you own all the content, and as long as you back up regularly, will always be there. Your website doesn’t need to be a flash, multi-page site with eye-catching graphics and dazzling photos. It can be as simple as a one page site, if that’s all you wish (or can afford!)
The most important things to have on your website are:
- Info about you; your bio, what you write, etc
- Info about your books (or if you are unpublished, what you’re working on)
- Contact information; a contact form or email, and social media links
The purpose of your website is so people can find you and your books, and get in touch. Update it as regularly as needed to keep things fresh, and look forward to adding each book you publish.
Choose ONE social media platform
When it comes to social media, the consensus used to be more is more. The more places you were online, the more easily you would be found.
As the social media world has evolved, so has its purpose. No longer is it about the number of followers, it’s about the quality of interaction.
Social media isn’t solely about selling or promoting, it’s about making connections. Sure, you need to throw in some self-promotion here or there, but less is certainly more. You want to build an audience; a following of people who like what you’re about, click with your personality, and like what genre/area you write in. You are building trust, so that one day, they might just be so excited for your ‘new book’, they’ll go out and buy it! And recommend it to others!
By choosing one platform to begin with, you give yourself space and time, and will be less likely to feel overwhelmed.
If you’re comfortable on Facebook, start there. If you like the immediacy and succinctness of Twitter, try that. Or if you are visual, Instagram may be for you.
Whichever platform you choose, commit to it for a period of time, and see what happens. Be consistent, and engage in conversations. Share and comment. Like, retweet, or heart.
If you need to, set a schedule where you set aside a small time frame each day to ‘check in’. Maybe once a day for half an hour fits for you, or perhaps you’re better off with ten minutes morning and night. Trial and error to see what works, but keep at it.
And once you feel comfortable, then you can add another platform if you wish.
This might seem an odd inclusion, but it’s a necessary one.
Author platforms and time spent online can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming and addictive! Don’t get so carried away with building your author platform that you forget what lies behind it – your writing!
There’s no use having a platform if you spend more time online each day, than you do on your current work in progress.
So, keep that daily writing schedule as your number one priority, and let your author platform fit into that. Writing, always comes first!