Welcome to December. This month is a time for rejoicing with friends and family, revising your NaNoWriMo novel, and reflecting on your year. In PubNews, we’re taking advantage of the season to revisit a topic we wrote about in January: building an author platform.
An author platform refers to the entire corpus of information about you as an author. The platform includes your websites, social media profiles, public speaking events, marketing collateral, and even what other people are saying about you. Your platform is what helps you rise above the crowd to let them know about your books. It’s all about visibility.
The majority of the platform is under your control, but a successful platform will grow more and more out of your control as people start talking about you. There are two rules to building a successful platform: be consistent and be persistent. You want everything that you control to share the same message about who you are; the design, photos, and wording should all have the same feel (e.g., Horror writers should not share Lolcatz photos on their public author profiles). You also want to be active every day–share an article, write a blog post, ReTweet, make a video—because the more there is to find about you, the more likely people are to find it.
The place to start is a website. Anyone who wants to be taken seriously these days has to have one. The website is like your hub: it’s a central location for everything about you as an author, and everything else connects to it. You’ll need info about yourself (the public “you,” at least), maybe a blog, and maybe some free content. A storefront would also be beneficial, particularly as you build up a catalog of available work.
A Facebook fan page and Twitter account can also be good tools to help you build, and both are free. Twitter especially can help drive traffic to your website—as long as you give people good reasons to keep coming back. Also take advantage of Amazon and Goodreads author systems. Both have several (mostly free) ways to promote your books. Check out other social media sites too, but do some research into what demographics use them. If your target audience doesn’t use Pinterest, don’t bother. Online promotion boils down to this: try something. Do something for a while, keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.
In this digital age, it’s important to remember the power of personal contact. Face-to-face promotion can be slower, but it can also be much more meaningful for your readers. Find people who would like your book at places where they gather: conventions, movie releases, trade shows, parties, wherever. Contact business owners and ask if you could host a talk, a reading, or a book signing at their establishment. Our author Michael Camp is building quite a platform by holding events and simply striking up conversations at local breweries. Don’t be afraid to introduce people to your book if it’s something they might like to read. Connecting with these potential fans can even inspire them to begin promoting you themselves.