Wondering what an author platform is (and why you need one)? This post answers some basic questions to get you thinking about how to grow your platform before you publish your book.
So you’ve finished your book. Now what?
If you’re like me, your first impulse is to lock that sucker away in a drawer so no one can ever, ever read it. At least while you’re still alive.
I’m not alone. Many writers have a huge problem with book promotion, not to mention self-promotion. The phenomenon does make sense. Writers are often introverted, solo creatures — it’s not in our nature to want to be in front of the camera.
But, if you want your book to be successful (and no matter how terrified of feedback you are, you do want your book to be successful), you need to put effort into building your author platform. Without building a solid author platform, you’ll miss out on opportunities to promote your work and reach more readers.
What is an author platform, anyway?
As an indie author, you’ve probably heard the term “author platform” before. And even if you haven’t, I’ve mentioned it several times already! Let’s break down what this bit of jargon means.
Basically, your author platform is your fanbase. It’s the group of people who support you and read your books. These people follow you on social media, show up to your speaking events, and sign up for your newsletter. They are also your proof of an existing audience, which can help convince publishing houses to take a chance on you.
You can think of your author platform as your sphere of influence. Who are the people you can reach? How can you reach them? Your Facebook friends, Instagram followers, Tumblr followers, fan-fiction readers, your blog subscribers… all of these people are in your author platform!
Every author has a different platform, depending on the blend of tools you choose to engage with. If you’re a young adult writer, your author platform and how you interact will look very different than a business writer. The common thread is, you’re reaching out and interacting.
Why you need to spend time building your author platform
Remember E L James? She’s the author of 50 Shades of Grey. James had a massive author platform well before 50 Shades was published. She had built up a loyal following by writing fan-fiction and engaging with readers on social media. That meant, when her book was published, there were already thousands of people waiting to buy it. That rabid fan base helped James make more noise and reach more people with her work.
Building your author platform is vital. It’s important to engage with your author platform when you’re just starting out, and it’s just as important to engage with it when you have a more established career. It’s never too early to start building your author platform.
Your author platform can convince publishers to take a chance on you
These days, publishers aren’t just looking at the quality of your work when considering whether or not to give you a publishing deal, they want to know that your work will be a commercial success. Your author platform can play a part in that.
If you have thousands of followers on your blog, publishers will see that people are already invested in reading your work. They’ll think that you already have the ability to convert people you interact with into paid readers and will be more likely to take a risk on you, particularly if you’re a new author.
Your author platform can help you reach more people
Marketing a book is expensive! Whether you are self publishing your own book or working with a publisher, you’ll likely always be wishing for more money to help reach more readers.
Using your author platform to promote your book is free (or close to it). By interacting with readers via your author platform, you’ll help turn casual readers into rabid fans. And those rabid fans will later go out, buy your book, and, most importantly, help new fans find you. Every single one of your rabid fans has his or her own platform — tapping into those networks is how you get your work to reach more people, quickly.
ProWritingAid’s guide, How to Build Your Author Platform on a Shoestring Budget, is all about building an author platform. Download it for free. Readers of the BookBaby Blog can also get 20% off the Premium version of ProWritingAid by using voucher code BB2017.
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