Now that I have a number of author interviews under my belt, I thought I would share a notable sentiment that most of them have shared with me. Each of my author interviews are with authors who have already published at least one book, whether traditionally or through self-publishing. And though most of the questions I ask are different, there are a couple that I like to ask each of them. Usually these questions provide a wide array of responses which isn’t surprising since they are all unique individuals and write creatively on a professional level. But there is a sentiment that I have heard repeatedly from many of them. They wish they had started building their author platforms before they published.
So I thought today I would talk about what an author platform is and why it is important to have one.
Some of you may be asking, what is an “author platform” anyways? This term is simply to describe how an author puts themselves out there for the world to see. It’s the way you market yourself and your writing. It’s how you connect with the people who will (hopefully) purchase your books. This is how much influence and visibility you have as an author.
Next you may be asking, why is an author platform important? Well, as an author, you will be the biggest advocate for your book. From concept to sales. Even if you go with a traditional publisher, in today’s book market, you will have to help sell your book once it is published. Unless you’re someone like King, Rowling or Grisham, you will have to be out there pounding the proverbial pavement to get people to buy your book(s). This is why the authors I’ve interviewed all say they wished they had started working on their author platforms before they published.
If you have a large following online (whether on your author website or social media) and you were strategic in building it up, you will have a ready-made audience just itching to buy your book. And if you have large enough sales numbers at the beginning you’ll be hitting some best-selling lists a lot faster which means more exposure for your book which means more potential sales. It’s the snowball effect but you gotta have that snowball to begin with. This is why your author platform is so important. It’s the snowball, and the bigger the ball you start with, the faster it will grow as it careens down that hill of sales.
I’m guessing by now you’re asking, so where do I start? If this is your next question. My two suggestions for you are:
- An AUTHOR website.
- Social Media.
Now you might hear recommendations to start a “book” website, or maybe you’ve seen other authors do this. For me, my thinking was, “well gee, I don’t technically have a book to sell yet so how can I have a book website.” Plus, I plan on writing more than one book. So it makes more sense to create one site where I can let people get to know me. I want one place where they can find out more information on not just me but also about any book I write.
Perhaps if my book becomes as huge as Harry Potter (fingers, toes and eyes crossed) I would consider creating a separate website just for the book, but until then, an author website will be sufficient.
I also recommend self-hosting your own site. That’s not to say that anyone with a .wordpress or .blogspot in their domain name isn’t legitimate, in fact I started out on Blogspot. It was great and I learned a lot. But the more serious I became about my writing career, the more I realized I needed to really invest myself in it fully. For me, that meant paying a bit more to self-host my own author website www.thewritingpiazza.com. I will be doing a future post about websites and how to start them and what you should and shouldn’t put on your sites, so keep an eye out for that. And if you have any questions shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will try to address them all in the blog post.
If you want other people to take you seriously as a writer, you need to take yourself seriously. That means investing your time and money to do it well. It takes money to host a website and go to writing conferences and apply for writing awards. But those things show others you’re serious about your craft. It shows them you are invested and makes them more likely to invest in you as well.
The other investment you need to make is an investment in time. And you may not like it, but part of the time commitment will mean working on things besides writing your book. I’m talking about building your author platform. Aside from your website, the additional time you should be investing is in your social media sites. I will also be going into this more in-depth in a future blog post. I will talk about the different social media sites and how to choose which ones to target (good news, you don’t have to be on them all!). I will give some tips and things I have learned for how to strategically build your following on the various sites. Again, if you have questions, email me and I will do my best to address them when I write up my blog post on the subject.
Doing these two things will have you on your way to building a solid base. I hope you now know what an author platform is and why it’s important for an author to build one. If you’d like to do a little more research on this subject, you should check out Your Writer Platform Kimberley has some great free resources on her site you can peruse. I also hope you’ll join me in the future when I’ll have more time to go in-depth on the two suggestions I gave you today.
If there are any other questions you have about topics other than what I mentioned here, feel free to jot them in the comments section below or email me. Unless the questions are about quantum physics or where babies come from, those are questions I prefer to let other people answer. 🙂 But I’m always looking for ways to help out fellow writers so don’t be shy, ask away! And if you found this post helpful please share it on any of the social media sites you prefer. The links are right below this and I’d be truly grateful!
Until we meet again.