Guest Post by Yen Cabag
Nowadays, writing is only one part of becoming a successful book author. The other part is something many aspiring authors frown upon, but it is absolutely necessary: Building an author platform.
Does every author need an author platform?
One way of looking at it is this: let’s say you were buying makeup or some other beauty product, and you went online looking for a website and couldn’t find any. How would that make you feel? Wouldn’t it make you wonder if the product was manufactured in some grimy garage? Chances are, you would think twice about buying it again!
As an author, you also face a similar challenge: Readers will be more comfortable buying books from someone they’re relatively familiar with. And the other side of the picture is just as important: Publishers and bookstores are always more willing to take on someone who has a solid following.
What is an author platform?
An author platform refers to the name you build as an author, which includes the number of people that you reach. The bigger your following, the bigger audience you have for anything you publish. This makes publishers more willing to invest in your book and gives you a greater chance for more people to know about your book!
Why do you need an author platform?
Gone are the days when all that authors needed to do was write and let the publishers worry about the rest. These days, you have to be intentional at building your own following. Without a following, most likely, nobody will know about your book, even if it could be the next New York Times bestseller.
An author platform offers you the following benefits:
- Help People Find Your Books — An author platform helps the general public, especially your target audience, find your books easily.
- Attract New Readers — Your author platform can help you attract new readers regularly and connect with them.
- Engage Your Existing Audience — Your platform helps engage your existing audience, keep them interested, and possibly convert them into buyers.
- Boost Your Credibility — Your author platform helps boost your reputation and credibility, which builds trust among your target readers; remember: trust is one factor why people buy books.
- Build Relationships — Your platform helps you build relationships with relevant people, such as influencers, who can also help you promote your brand.
Simple steps to building your author platform…
If you are a budding author, these simple steps can help you get started building your author platform:
Create your website. As a writer, your website is the first thing that publishers and readers look for. Your name is your brand name. Think about your target audience and decide how you want to package your brand. For example, a fantasy writer will likely have a different website feel compared to a nonfiction writer.
John’s note: Your name is not always your brand name. Sometimes it is your topic, like mine is book marketing. And sometimes it’s a real brand name you create like the Dummies brand or Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Maintain a blog. The key here is to think of giving value to others. Creating a blog gives you a place where you can offer your thoughts for free. Focus on developing useful content, and the more people that you end up helping, the bigger the chance that they will be interested in anything else you have to say.
One important note: when you blog, be sure to learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), since that will help the public find your posts.
Offer giveaways. Connected with giving value, people love giveaways. Just make sure you present the giveaways as something celebratory, and not as a desperate ploy to get people to do stuff for you.
Build your email list. As you start your website and blog, find ways to build an email list. People who sign up for free reports or free inside information that you give away on your blog can be a good audience for future marketing programs for your book.
Here are a few ways you can build up an audience for your genre or nonfiction book topic using email:
- Use an email service provider such as Mailchimp, Aweber, Substack, etc.
- Include a sign-up form on your blog.
- Offer a giveaway, also called a lead magnet, for those that sign up.
- Send personalized email that give value on a regular basis.
- Make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your emails if they need to.
Connect on book promotion sites. As an author, you write things that you are passionate about and want other people to know about. This is reason enough to be proactive at promoting your book. Book promotion sites can be a good investment: you can start with free book promotion sites, and if you have a little extra, you may want to invest in some of the paid sites.
Use this list as a starting resource: 232 Ebook Listing and Book Review Websites
Remember to choose the book promotion sites that match your genre. Some book promotion sites focus only on specific genres, so knowing which ones work best for you can save you a lot of effort.
Be effective on social media. Different people have different views on the role of social media in building an author platform. In any case, choose the social media outlet that you are most comfortable with, as that will shine through in the way you post updates. For example, some authors prefer to use Facebook, while others are more comfortable with Twitter or Instagram. The key is to choose what you enjoy using, so that you can do it without any pressure.
Build relationships offline. Building relationships offline is just as important as building them online. Some of the ways to do this include:
- Attend writers’ events and conferences.
- Organize book signings.
- Do book tours.
- Host workshops.
- Accept speaking engagements.
- Give copies of your book to venues where people normally gather, such as schools, libraries, hotels, churches, beauty salons, etc. Look for places your target audiences gather.
- Join writing groups in your community.
- Get involved with the libraries and local bookstores in your area.
Building an Author Platform
With these simple steps, you can well be on your way to building your author platform. Remember, baby steps can take you farther. Write out your plan and see every little step add up to build you a solid following and continue on your path toward becoming a successful author.
Yen Cabag is the blog writer at TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.
Check out our free training course on becoming a full-time author: TCKPublishing.com/full-time-author