So you’ve written your book, spent months revising and editing, and created an eye-catching cover. Now you’re ready to hit that publish button. But wait, how are you going to attract people to your book and get them to buy it?
The answer: develop an author platform.
But what exactly is an author platform?
A platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author. This includes social media outlets, a website, email, networks, and any other unique path you take to put yourself out there.
Building a platform it not about being the loudest self-promoter on the planet. It’s an ongoing process that allows you to stand out among other authors. The best way to do this is to focus on your audience, not on yourself. Your platform is about readership and audience development. It’s about offering new and interesting content. It’s about telling your story, a story that separates you from other writers. A powerful author platform represents an emotional connection between writer and reader.
To become a successful indie author, you have to actively work on building your platform. It takes time, but it is invaluable.
A successful author platform consists of many elements, including but not limited to:
- A website
- Focused, quality content, such as a blog or podcasts
- Social media
- Associations with writing groups and other authors (your network)
- Speaking engagements and author appearances
- Your email list
This foundation is important in productive platform building. As an author, you have to open the funnel and try to capture as many potential readers as possible. Figure out what works for you and what is sustainable then flow with it.
Start with content.
Content refers to print books, ebooks, your website, online courses, live webinars, magazine articles, blog posts, digital downloads, podcasts, videos, and events. Quantity can help you. The more content you have, the more options you have available.
There are many ways to attract new fans. One way is to consider offers people can easily say “yes” to. These might include:
- free e-books
- the first book in a series
- free workshops
- free downloadable guides
Freeloaders will never pay for anything, but superfans will pay everything. Everyone else is at some level in between. Offering giveaways and discounts will attract readers from all ends of the spectrum, and could potentially lead to book sales.
If you’re short on content, join forces with other authors, preferably in your genre, to create bundles and box sets or collaborative blog posts.
(Image from Authors-Platform.com)
While we’re on the topic of blog posts, as an author, you should have an author website. However, your website should not be separate from your blog. Your blog needs to be part of your website. Your website is a central hub of information and a place for you to guide your readers. Lure them in with your blog.
Your website should have a clear identity that not only evokes who you are as an author, but also showcases your work.
Your website should include the following:
- a page dedicated to all of your books
- individual book pages that feature the cover, a brief description of the book, and purchase links
- a mailing list sign up form
- links to social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc…)
- about me author page (bio)
- current blog posts
As far as your blog is concerned, develop a regular posting schedule and stick to it. Talk about what you love. Repurpose things you’ve shared on social media. Feature other writers or books. Be sure to include images that relate to your content. Engage with your audience and gain their attention.
You’ll have much more successful launches if you have an engaged audience. One of the best ways to get people to want to buy your books is to offer them sample sections. An alternative to providing samples is to create short stories or poems that are exclusive to your blog. When you have a book about to come out, show your appreciation by offering your readers a discount or some other promotion.
Along the same lines, set up a newsletter email list. Your email list primarily builds through your website. Offer ebook giveaways where readers have to give their email address to get the free book. Newsletters are much more successful, however, if you offer content other than just book promotion. Post something interesting at least once per month.
People want to hear from you. One of the best ways to do this is through social media. Start an account on each major social media network even if you’re not active on it. Be consistent in how you describe yourself across these accounts.
Social media is about showing up, day in and day out, and sharing who you are to your audience. Share something in your life you do creatively. Offer a snippet for free and include images. Share blog posts on topics of interest. Interact with your followers and comment on their posts. If social media overwhelms you, choose one or two social networks to focus on, and enjoy them.
An author platform isn’t just about establishing an online presence so people buy your books. It’s about making connections. Even though some people may not interact with you or like your posts, they are still watching and will support you.
A successful author platform is the combination of small efforts that are sustainable and purposeful. Build your body of work. Establish a website and an email newsletter. Look for collaborative opportunities and partnerships. Create a network and make connections. Always think about how to get new people in and how to move them to be loyal fans.
Most importantly, be patient. Your platform won’t build overnight; it takes time.