Sometimes it’s called an author platform, writing platform, branding, social media presence, or what have you, but essentially, all these things are based on the same principle: you need to create a solid foundation for your writing business in order to build awareness, sustain it, and sell more books.
The word “platform’ might seem terrifying, but if you know all the variables involved ahead of time, and break them down into actionable goals, building your author platform is easier than you thought. In this article, we will set you up with a plan on how to build up and maintain your author platform and connect everything, with small steps, so you can experience a gradual, steady increase in your visibility and reputation. So, let’s get to it!
- Author Websites: Yes, you might think that in 2015 a website is not quintessential anymore because of other existing platforms – but it is. In fact, most book marketers believe, next to email marketing, your website is the most important entity of your Author Platform. You need a stable foundation for your online presence, one that you have complete and unlimited control of. Building a solid author website is not necessarily a huge burden on your time if you have great author website designer, but there are other options as well. You can hire professional designers, or create one yourself using Wix or Grid, without having to write a single line of code. Blog engines like WordPress or Blogger also offer beautiful templates, but a blog template site may not have all the features you want. In this case, you can hire a Virtual Assistant Company that specializes in WordPress to enhance your site and make it complete. Alternatively, you can register on a personal branding site network like me. These are not the same as completely functional websites, but it can do the trick until you have a real site up and running. As an Author, it is important that you buy a personal URL or domain under your author or pen name.
- Contacts and List Building: Digital media offers a wide selection of tools to boost you author platform. But first, make certain to utilize your your personal and professional contacts, who can help you grow, give you feedback and spread the word, and create an opt-in list for them to join or for you to add contacts manually. This is referred to as your “Core Fan Base”. Next, make a list of people outside your network. This list should include your favorite authors (who write the same genre as your books), experts on the subjects you write about, and other stakeholders and media professionals. Now you can start looking for ways to use the first group to give the second group access to your author platform. Continue to build your lists by continuously sharing your opt-in list signup and by manually adding new contacts you meet.
- E-mail Marketing: I know single handedly how annoyed authors can get when being reminded of the importance of email marketing and growing their contact list. I will never stop stressing this importance, in fact, I dedicated a full chapter on this subject in my eBook A Killer Marketing Plan for Self-Published Authors. Regular newsletters or updates on events, book launches, and promotions is an effective and inexpensive strategy for creating a buzz. If you have something really important to say, just share it and ask others to share it for you. It takes a community to build awareness around your book and it’s completely acceptable to ask others to contribute to your success. Remember your “Core Fan Base” knows you and they are happy that you have published a book. As time goes on and you have gotten the hang of it, design a short campaign, consisting of several emails that go out over several weeks/months. My top favorite email marketing systems are MailChimp, Infusionsoft and Constant Contact. All of these services provide great templates to create beautifully branded emails.
- Social Media and Getting Social: Some people believe social media sites account for their author platform, but that is far from the truth. Social media sites are just channels for your content. Make sure you post regularly. Keeping a schedule is more important that creating a lot of posts and tweets. You need to engage and interact with your followers on a regular basis and link back to your true author platform – your website. Social Media is real-time, so take advantage of that, and share your content when you can tie it to seasonal events or current news. You will gain more followers this way and people will appreciate that you are up-to-date and relevant.
- Giveaways, eBooks, and Free Offers: You can spark interest, increases opt-in subscribers, and generate traffic to your author platform if you create a free giveaway. You can easily create your free giveaway in the form of a “sample chapter” from your novel, or informational e-books on your business subject, or create a productivity one-sheet for your target audience. Link these to your website and make certain you connect them to your email marketing system as a downloadable offer for building your list of subscribers and for getting permission to keep in contact. Create extras, exclusives, upsells, and enjoy the synergy effects.
- Prepare an Author Platform One-Sheet and Media Kit: The digital realm is not everything. Print business cards with directions to your author platform as well. Your one-page summary or PDF should display your most recent titles, book covers, links to your social media profiles, links to where people can buy your books (include ISBN numbers), a short author bio, and your latest reviews/ratings, and also including sales and marketing data. Author Media Kits are also a great example of enabling you to get your platform across to others in a precise format that will help you establish relationships, introduce yourself to the media, book lovers, and to bookstore managers on the fly.
There is a lot of value and takeaway from this article, so start working on one thing at a time and soon enough you will have your very own “solid” author platform. We will continue to dive deeper into this topic as we expand into future blog articles. To never miss another post – SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG!