How An Author Platform Helps Promote Your Work

author platform

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.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

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 potential readers can ever, ever read it. At least while you’re still alive.

I’m not alone. Many fellow authors 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 you need to put effort into knowing how to build an author platform. Without building a solid author platform, you’ll miss out on opportunities to promote your work and reach more potential 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 who will follow you on social media, attend your speaking events, and sign up for your newsletter. They are also your proof of an existing target 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 and uses different social media platforms, depending on the blend of tools you choose to engage with. If you’re a young adult writer, your author platform and your online presence will look very different than a business writer. The common thread is, you’re reaching out and interacting.

How to build an author platform (5 steps)

Here are some essential steps to help you build an author platform:

1. Define your brand

Before diving into the world of platform building, take a moment to define your author brand. What is your unique voice and writing style? What themes and genres do you specialize in? Understanding your brand will help you craft a consistent and compelling message that resonates with your target audience.

2. Create a professional website

A professional website is the foundation of your author platform. It serves as a hub for your work, where readers can learn more about you and your books. Make sure your website is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and showcases your writing. Include an author bio, information about your books, upcoming events, and a contact page so readers and press can connect with you.

3. Engage on social media

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with readers and fellow writers. Choose platforms that align with your target audience and focus on building an authentic presence. Share updates about your writing journey, offer insights into your creative process, and engage with your followers by responding to comments and participating in conversations. Remember, social media is about building relationships, so be genuine and supportive.

4. Guest blogging and writing articles

Expand your reach by writing guest blog posts and articles for other publications. Look for websites or blogs that cater to your genre or writing niche. By providing valuable content, you can reach new readers and establish yourself as an authority in your field. Don’t forget to include a bio and link back to your website or social media profiles to drive traffic to your platform.

5. Build an Email List

An email list is a powerful tool for connecting directly with your readers. Offer a freebie, such as a short story or exclusive content, to entice readers to sign up. Send regular newsletters with updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and special offers to keep your subscribers engaged and invested in your writing journey.

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 built up a loyal fan base by writing fan-fiction and engaging with her readers on social media. That meant, when it was time for her book launch, there were already thousands of book sales waiting to happen. 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

Unlike a traditional publisher, 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

Book marketing is expensive! Whether you are selfpublishing your own book, are a small publisher, or if you’re working with a traditional publisher, you’ll likely always be wishing for more money to help reach more readers.

Using your online presence 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 readers 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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  1. Spurious advice with limited market penetration. Writers are legion. Publishers are not. Ipso facto Ergo sum QED. Basta la musica. I used to be a publisher. Excellent writers came once I had done the hard yards [no longer extant]. Social media is an entertaining environment. Publishers really have no need to bother to trawl through just as many writers on show. Perhaps when considering publishing one such lucky individual will they have a look at this persona’s digital dollops. Maybe. If only for legal reasons given the twitchy nature of today’s social awareness enforcers who make a lot of noise about nothing.


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