Marketing Your Book: Building An Author Platform

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I’m sure you’ve heard the term “author platform” thrown around, but what does it actually mean? Here’s my understanding, according to personal experience and classes I took in college while working towards my degree.

What does “platform” mean?

Think of an author platform in the same light as an actual platform: it’s something that holds up your brand and author image, and serves as a place for you to stand once you have a tangible thing that you want to get in the hands of your readers. Elements of an author platform include followers (potential readers and other people who are interested in you and your work), and the channels by which you connect with them (blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, giveaways, etc.).

Why do I need a platform?

The internet is filled to bursting with content, and it doesn’t matter how amazing you and your work are if you can’t reach your reader. A platform will help you connect with your audience despite the information overload that we encounter every day. Whether you’re using social media, a website, or a combination of the two, the idea is to find your target audience and then reach them. It’s much easier said than done, and as my professors said in school, the best time to start building a platform is two years ago. The second best time is now.

How do I start building a platform?

First, decide what method works best for you and your work. If you have no idea where to start, try researching some of your favorite authors and/or authors who you think match your writing style. See what they’re using for their author platform (social media, posting frequency, keywords, tags, etc.) and use them as examples. There are countless configurations, and I’ve seen everything from websites to guest blogging to Twitter to Facebook. Here are some examples and how I’d personally approach each medium:

Books

Books are probably the hardest to market to an audience because it’s a time commitment for your reader. “Trust me, it’s a good book” won’t make any impact if your audience knows nothing about you. My advice for books would be to start by engaging with your audience so that they can get a better feel for how you write. Blog posts and newsletters are a good way to get your personality and writing style some exposure in bite-size pieces, and social media is a good way to get people directed to those posts. Focus on driving traffic to what you’re trying to get out there: your writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are already easier to consume for readers than a book, but there’s still the issue of getting people to read what you have to say. If short stories are already a medium that you’re comfortable with, then I’d encourage you to find existing outlets for short stories. Shorter forms are easier to incorporate in larger publications, and so there are plenty of resources where you can submit your work to things like magazines or writer newsletters. Or, if you decide to have your own website, then you can offer a newsletter to subscribers in which they can receive a short story in their inbox every day/week/month/whatever interval works best for you. Then, again, I highly recommend a social media presence of some kind that can be used to drive traffic and point people to your content.

Poetry

Similar to the above examples, you want people to get a feel for your writing style and you need to give them reasons to read your work above someone else’s. The hard part, as always, is getting exposure to your audience. In my experience, Instagram is an excellent place for getting poetry exposure because there’s a massive existing community. My advice is to search through Instagram tags (things like #poetry and whatever other specialization applies to your work) and see how many posts currently hold that tag. Try to find a number that’s mid-range so that you know there’s an audience for it, but not so high that your work will get lost. Try to niche down as much as possible with tags, but not so obscure that no one will be searching for it.

Last bits of advice

  • Make sure you’re consistent: whether you post daily or monthly or somewhere in between, make sure that your outreach is predictable for your audience.
  • Leverage keywords and tags on your posts: the idea is to make your work searchable and therefore easy to find, and keep in mind that it’s easier to use existing communities rather than trying to start a new community from scratch.
  • Establish your profiles on whatever platform you end up using: part of your author platform is you, so give your audience the chance to get to know you. Share your information responsibly, but let your readers see you as a person instead of a content writing machine.
  • Experiment: you will not get your author platform configuration right on your first try. No one does. So experiment and try out different posting schedules and platforms and whatever else you want to include, but try to be as consistent as possible.

What do you think? What social media platforms do you like? Dislike? What kind of work are you trying to get out there, and how do you plan on reaching your readers? Let me know in the comments! And if you don’t want to miss any Author Rescue content, join the monthly newsletter!

Katy

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