Get started building your author platform

As the burden of promotion continues to fall more squarely on the author's shoulders, your author platform is becoming an essential piece of the publishing puzzle. It's not enough to (simply?) write an amazing book, work with a talented cover designer and send your book into the world. The most-likely truth is: No one knows who you -- and therefore, your book -- are.

We've rounded up a TON of tips for creating and cultivating a successful author platform. Be sure to pin these ideas and come back when you need some inspiration!

What is an author platform?

This is where an author platform comes into play. It's a way to build an engaged following (a.k.a. potential readers!) that will support your projects, and the sooner you can start building this platform the better. Even if you're just thinking about writing a book, now is the time to start building a platform. Your author platform includes your website, social media, your email marketing and sometimes video and podcasting.

Just having all the pieces of a platform does not a platform make. Your platform is like a toddler: it needs constant love, attention and occasionally, needs to be put into check. Be sure to read:


 

   


What types of authors need a platform?

The answer here is easy: ALL authors need a platform. Again, promotion is falling on authors more than ever and without a platform, your path to success will be very, very difficult. A great publicist may ignite some great conversations about your book when it first publishes, but what happens when this dies down? A platform keeps you going through the lean times and prepares you for your next book release, too.

When you're a memoirist or a non-fiction writer, sometimes building a platform is easier because you are talking about things you know personally and can connect with individuals and groups with similar experiences. Fiction writers sometimes face more of a social identify crisis. Our She Writes Press publisher Brooke Warner goes into more detail in her post: Your Fiction Platform in a Nutshell.

The basics of social media for authors

You may think, "But I'm already on Facebook, commenting on adorable pictures of my grandchildren/friend's travels/random Cats of the Internet." Sadly, dear writers, simply being "on" a network is not enough. There are specific ways to create your accounts and create conversations when you're an author (or a would-be author). From day one, you need to think of yourself as an author on these social sites and socialize accordingly. Check out these quick posts on the basics of each social network:

 

 

Get your author social networks up to speed with these 5 Fast Fixes>>

And be sure to check out these articles from THE SOCIAL ISSUE by BookSparks!

Building an author website

Your author website is the homebase for your author brand and your book(s). It should be polished, professional and above all, useful to readers. I work with authors daily on creating their websites. I often have to encourage them to add features they don't think they need (like social media buttons, an excerpt of their book, and a personal-feeling bio page) and discourage features that simply won't benefit their readers and ultimately their platform (like blogs that won't be refreshed routinely).

As a general rule, all author websites should include a homepage, a bio page (often called the about page), a page for each of your books that includes the summary and links to purchase, and a contact page. Christelle Lujan does a great job in her post The 5 Reader-Hooking Features Every Author Website Needs of explaining what to keep and what to toss:

Once you've built your website, you'll need to consider:

 

 

How to get traffic to your author website | Quick updates you can make to your author website | 10 Tips to improve your author website | Here's why it might not be smart to blog your book

Use She Writes as part of your platform

Convinced you need an author platform but not sure where to start? Great news - you're already here! The She Writes community is a great platform to use to build your presence and connect with supportive women just like you. While it doesn't fully replace your own author website and social media efforts, you can blog here, join a group and build a profile page. Here's how to put our platform to use for you!

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Comment by Karen Szklany Gault on June 7, 2016 at 11:07am

Thank you for this comprehensive resource guide to promoting my novel through social media.  Some of it I have done and others I have not.  This gives me food for thought about what my next steps will be.

Comment by Jo Anne Valentine Simson on June 1, 2016 at 5:58pm

Amazing compilation of resources. I read through every one, and copied the URLs, onto a sheet with the title, "Links for building an author platform." This past week or so I've been trying to work on improving my "platform." This was so timely!! 

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