This week: Building a Writer's PlatformEdited by: Vivian
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Agents, publishers, and other authors tell writers to build a platform. But, what is a platform? Is it a physical structure? How does one build a writer's platform? Let's look a few ways to build THAT platform.
Building a Writer's Platform
Building a Platform
A publisher requires any author have a platform and marketing/promotion plan before a book is published. But, how does one build a platform and what is a platform? A writer’s platform consists of several components, but an important part is an online presence, a presence created before publication, not after. A platform—also referred to as an author platform or a media platform—is an established media forum through which an author connects to his or her audience.
Here are some steps to build your author platform, but they aren’t the only steps possible, just what I consider most important:
1. Know your target readers. If your books cover more than one genre, then you need to target readers for all the genres. Join groups that cater to people interested in those areas, for example, but not to promote your books, but to promote you.
2. Identify and define your brand. What is a brand? An author brand is an ongoing, continually evolving story that communicates what makes your work unique, and represents an implied promise to your readers of what they can expect you to consistently deliver.
3. Create a website – a MUST for all authors and should be up and running before your book or books are released.
4. Start blogging consistently. Blogging is one way to share your expertise and—at the same time—build an author platform. Don’t blog just about your writing, but find areas you know about or have researched, maybe for a book, and blog about them. Blogging to reach other writers doesn’t open avenues for books sales as blogging to reach your target readers will.
5. Build an email list. Create an email sign-up form on your website. What? You don’t have a website yet? Okay, the first step is to set up your new site.
While you’re at it, create a sign-up form that connects to an email management system; here are a few of our favorite email newsletter platforms to choose from. Put it on your homepage to capture email addresses — and take a deep breath.
Your job is to collect emails, and to send out worthwhile content. It may take a long time to build up your email list, and to figure out exactly what your message is, but you need to practice having a following.
Everyone you know is a contact. The more people you know, the more influence you have, especially if you know people in high places.
So, what if those influencers are a couple degrees of separation from you? People are surprising in how they choose to support fledgling authors. I’ve witnessed seriously established authors supporting new writers just because it feels good and they remember what it’s like to be in your position.
In addition to the list of people you’re connected to, create a list of people who might blurb you, from realistic to pie in the sky. Who would be your ideal reader? Who do you dream might one day recommend your book?
6. Write guest posts.
7. Connect offline. Attend writing conferences. Speak at writing groups, schools, or libraries.
8. Use social media wisely. Pick just two social channels. That’s right: only two. Set up a profile on each and post once a day. If once a day doesn’t work with your schedule, then set a schedule and keep it: once a week, three times a week, three times a month, etc.
I use Facebook and Twitter, but if you’re into other channels or options, try them. If you’re writing something that lends itself to images, join Pinterest or Instagram. If your work lends itself to video, do YouTube. Experiment to find a social media channel that works for you and your writing without spreading yourself too thin.
The key to social media is posting regularly and engaging people. You want shares because shares lead to more follows. Rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms, focus consistently on the two platforms that provide the most value to you and your work.
It takes forever (seriously) to build up a following on social media, so don’t be discouraged. Celebrate a few likes a week. Manage your expectations. Keep going.
The best way to build an author platform is simple: start. Just like you don’t run a marathon without training for weeks or months, you don’t start your author platform completely at once. Building your platform takes discipline and hard work, but if it weren’t worth it, no one would be doing it. Building an author platform is a marathon, not a sprint.
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Words from Our Readers
Thank you for writing this news letter. Marketing is not something I'm good at but I do enjoy. So I will put these ideas in action ASAP!
These are ways on how to advertise an author's book by its owner.
Each author has his own experience with his book's publication that is not always linked to the advertisement.
Great tips! Thanks for the info!
I'm glad I could help.
Vivian, in your first bullet, you recommend generating buzz and fan support before publishing. I do not have a big social media following, so where are other places one can start?
As I told you in the email I sent:
1. Get busy setting up social media accounts. At least have a blog, website (your blog can
be on your website), Facebook, plus maybe MeWe and Twitter. I cannot express how important
social media is to building a platform. I would much rather not have to mess with it
myself, but in order to sell myself (that's really what building a platform is,
building a relationship between oneself and others), I MUST participate.
2. At events, do give-a-ways that require participants to sign up with name and email,
letting them know you will add them to your newsletter list. Then send out email
3. Appear on radio shows, TV shows, in the newspapers.
4. Give workshops and sessions at conferences and schools over an area you have expertise.
Truthfully, without social media, you won't be able to build a platform easily at all.
Thank you for joining me again this issue. July is my birthday month, so I'm using a signature given me several years ago for my birthday.
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