The author platform—a long-range career growth tool

If you are like many of us, you have recently published a book. Congratulations! Whether you self-published or went with traditional  publication, you now need to market your book. You sent out an email to everyone you know telling them of your accomplishment. Having a little social media savvy, you told everyone on Facebook or Google+. You may even have tweeted a link to your book. But, what do you do if your sales are not ramping up the way you would like. What next? What do you do to gain more visibility, become recognized as an authority, and increase your audience?

The way you become more visible, gain influence, and develop a readership is called your writer’s platform. It involves more than self-promotion. It is developing a persona, a presence, a brand that is you. For a better understand of what an author’s platform is, see Jane Friedman’s article, “A Definition of Author Platform.”

Developing a platform is not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing process. So as not to become overwhelmed, especially if you are new to social media, start slowly. As you gain confidence and skill with one aspect of the platform, add another. Each challenge will present new possibilities for growth.

Develop your presence both online and off. Don’t forgot the more traditional route: press releases, book tours, and radio and TV interviews. Make presentations and, especially for the non-fiction author, be on panels and discussion groups. All of these venues will help increase your audience and authority. The more visible you are, the more chances you have of making contact with your readers.

Another way to build your platform is by writing. Maintaining a website, guest blogging, tweeting, etc all take time. You are foremost a writer. To not become a “one-book wonder”, that author with only one book, you need to write more. Series writers build a following. Some, such as Michael R. Hicks, give away the first book in the series. As a result of this giveaway, I have purchased the “In Her Name Trilogy” and most of his novels. Look how Mr. Hicks has branded his books with theme and cover jackets. In addition, his inviting tagline, “I enjoy writing so you can enjoy reading!” all make a great presence—a powerful author platform.

If you want to spend more time writing and less time marketing, consider hiring someone to do part or all of the marketing. Book agents may help with promoting and platform development; consider if the cost is worth your hiring them and who will have the final say in the development of your author’s presence. At minimum, maintain active communication with your readers: answer comments or write postings. Some authors, such as Adam Nathan, print excerpts from their upcoming book and send a weekly email. Look at what other authors are doing and develop your own style. You are unique, let this uniqueness speak for itself.

How to build the author platform

  1. Be authentic. People can tell if you are sincere. Don’t make your blog, emails, tweets, etc about you. It is all about the reader.
  2. Don’t be a hard-sell. Constantly promoting your book can be a turn-off. People want to know what is it in for them; so be generous.
  3. Be flexible, there is no one right way to do this. Make your own way. Decide if you will blog or not, if you will have a Facebook presence or not,  or if you will specialize in one media such as Pinterest and ignore the rest.
  4. Be consistent. Be there for your readers. Reward them for following you by being there for them. Be engaging.
  5. Don’t forget the writer’s community. Make friends with other writers and exchange ideas. Join local author groups or meet up with them online. I like LinkedIn where there are many groups and discussions. This is a place not only to learn from others but also to develop your authority through comments or discussions you start.

Consider the development of your author platform as a long-range career growth tool. As with any career, you need to learn the craft and the management of that craft. Additionally, you need to be adaptable. It seems as if each week something new is happening in the digital world; try to keep up with the changes, most likely your readers will.

What new idea have you brought to your author platform? Which aspect of the author platform do you enjoy/dislike the most and why?

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

Adventurer and Author, I was born in Hartford Connecticut and now live in Sarasota, Florida.