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Finding Your Audience: Niche Over Numbers
Written by
Karen Dodd
April 2013
Written by
Karen Dodd
April 2013

Niche Over Numbers

by Karen Dodd


If you are a newly or soon-to-be published fiction author, chances are you are feeling overwhelmed by the what, why and how of building your author’s platform.

Let’s start with the “what.”

Building or creating your platform is not just about social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. In fact, part of your platform creation strategy may actually be not to engage in social media at this point. Community sites, events, and forums—on and off-line— may actually be more beneficial for reaching an audience with your particular type of writing. People who follow you in person may also enjoy receiving updates by email or via a weekly or monthly newsletter.

There. Now you can breathe!

WHAT: Author’s Platform Defined

“Platform” simply means anywhere that you, as an author, can be found – whether that’s on or off-line – and it really should be a combination of both. Done slowly and methodically over time, platform also establishes your reach, credibility and authority in your particular niche.

That said, it’s no secret that many writers are introverts and don’t enjoy being out there networking and promoting themselves. They’d rather write.

Others would rather have a limb amputated sans anesthetic than speak in public. I understand both.

WHY: You Need to Build Your Platform

Notice I didn’t say if you need to build a platform.  Today’s reality is that unless you are a celebrity, you —and often you alone— are responsible for being the CEO or entrepreneurial director of your writing business. Yes, even writing romantic fiction is a business; your business.

All writers need to build their influence and starting before your book comes out is critical.

Another term for influence is reach. Your reach is the total number of people with whom you are able to connect. These could be people reading your blog, signing up for your emails or newsletter, following you on various social media sites, as well as in-person and virtual events.

The list is endless but the key is that you can choose and control what channels and to what degree you engage with readers, fellow writers, agents, author and sometimes, even publishers.

Your total reach is what tells agents or publishers two things:

  1. You already have a built-in audience
  2. You know how to market yourself. Anything else they provide you with is gravy.

Quality over Quantity

Are you “friending” everyone who breathes, on Facebook? Do you follow everybody who follows you or follow others indiscriminately? Having a lot of followers just for the sake of numbers is a no-win proposition.

Instead, think about:

  • Whom you want to reach? Who are your ideal readers?
  • Why do you want to reach them? What message do you want to share? If your answer is “so they’ll buy my book,” think of a different reason!
  • What action do you want them to take? Would you like them to sign up for your newsletter, read a free excerpt from your book, read your blog? Always have a call to action

Always Be Thinking “Niche”

Your niche is your area of specialty, expertise, or even a strong personal interest. It is what drives you to find the right community or your “tribe.” It’s not enough to want to reach “readers” or “other writers.”

You can’t differentiate yourself as a generalist.

For example, rather than following mystery writers, drill down even further. Do you write police procedurals, cozies, hard boiled, soft boiled? You get the idea. Those will also be the agents, editors and publishers with whom you engage.

Build the Plane While Flying It!

Just as in real life, your author’s platform doesn’t have to be built in a day – or even a year. Just as you wouldn’t run up and down the street pleading, “Be my friend!” you shouldn’t do that in growing your influence or reach.

While I believe in using a systematic approach, (it just saves you stress and time) you can let your platform grow somewhat organically. Take the time to find out what does and doesn’t resonate for you.

However, here’s the caveat: as a writer, in building your platform you will most assuredly need to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time – just as you do in your writing. Find what you like to do and do more of it.

Most importantly, adopt these two mantras:

  • KIM: Keep It Manageable. Remember, without a finished manuscript you won’t need an author’s platform. Because, you won’t be an author; you’ll be an unpublished writer, so focus on your WIP
  • Ask yourself: “Is what I’m about to do taking me closer to my writing goals or further away? If it’s the latter, reconsider your strategy.


Are you using a strategic plan to build your author’s platform or have you been letting it grow more organically?   What would you say is your number one challenge? I’d love to hear from you. Please click here to comment.


Article written by Karen Dodd

Author / Columnist, Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine

Notice: This article is copyrighted material. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Karen Dodd at KarenDodd.com

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