Building an Author Platform – Getting Started.
Sharing guest posts by fellow authors on my writing blog is something I enjoy doing. It’s the reason I run features like my popular Top 10 Writing Tips and Author Interviews.
I’m always fortunate to be inundated with willing volunteers when I put out a request for guest posts, and I’m more than happy to use my blog to promote the author and their book/s.
As with any submission request, I ask that each piece is accompanied with a photo, book cover, author bio, and social media/sales links. However, I’m often surprised by the lack of promotional information I receive from new authors.
Preparing a guest post without the right information takes up valuable time as I must search for the bios, images, and links. It’s only when I start looking for these details that I realise how many new authors are missing out on valuable book marketing opportunities.
As an author, which of the following do you have?
As a minimum, I would hope you have a website or blog, one social media platform, and a Goodreads or Amazon account, but you’d be amazed at how many authors don’t have anything set up at all.
I’ve spent hours searching for author information online to only find a personal Facebook account and their book listed on Amazon. I also see that same author talking about a lack of sales on the Facebook writing groups and asking for marketing advice. How do you expect anyone to find you if you aren’t putting yourself – and your books – out there?
When I work with my mentoring clients I always offer a session about creating an author platform. Most of the time we have this discussion before they’ve written a single word of their manuscript. I also receive emails from new authors who have just published, or are nearing completion of their book, asking how they should market. Here are some of the responses I’ve had to the questions I ask them:
‘Why do I need to start a blog when I haven’t got anything to sell yet?’
‘Oh, I don’t have time for Facebook/Twitter, I’ll just sell my books through word of mouth.’
‘Everyone will want to read my book so it will sell itself.’
Let’s bust a few myths here shall we:
A blog is a perfect platform to learn more about your readers, to engage with your audience, to share your writing journey, and to hopefully collaborate with other authors and increase your visibility. A romance author is not in competition with another romance author, on the contrary, both authors are writing for the same audience and can benefit from one another’s platforms. A blog can be used as a sales tool, but in a non-direct way. Engaging with your readers in a conversational manner will get them talking, sharing, and eventually buying.
Word of Mouth Sales.
We can all sell books through word of mouth; I’ve done this plenty of times thanks to the networking groups I attend. A handful of book sales is great, but word of mouth isn’t a long term sales strategy. Being visible online is vital to the success of your book so you need to make time for social media. You don’t have to be on every platform available, in fact, I’d recommend you don’t go on more than two, but it is important that you’re using the right one for your audience. If you write romance for ladies between 35 – 55 years then you’ll probably find them on Facebook. If you’ve written a business book you’ll need to have a LinkedIn account. If you write for young adults then Snapchat or YouTube is the place to be.
Is Your Book for Everyone?
NO, your book is not for everyone! Hopefully, before you even started writing your novel, you worked out your target audience. A thirteen year old schoolgirl, for example, might not enjoy your non-fiction book about the inner workings of a Spitfire. You need to know who your book is written for and where they are online so that you can target your marketing directly to them. Trying to reach ‘everyone’ is impossible, not to mention a drain on your marketing budget, time, and sanity.
What can you do today to help yourself?
Amazon Author Account.
First, ask your friends, family, and colleagues where they buy their books. Most of them will say Amazon. It makes sense that you have a basic bio and image connected with your book on that platform as this gives potential readers a small insight into who you are.
To do this you need to create an Amazon Author Central Account. It’s worth noting that you can set one up for each country your novel is available (.co.uk, .com, .de, etc) you just need to have an Amazon account in each area. For now, make sure you have an author account for your home country. Here’s my UK profile:
When you log in to your Author Central Account you can ‘claim’ your book/s so that it links to your author bio – you’ll see some of my books in the image. You can also check your customer reviews, book sales, and ratings on this platform.
If you search for any book on Amazon it will list the author name and the book title. If the name is highlighted in blue you can click it and be taken to their author page. If you don’t have this facility you’re missing a trick.
Social Media Account.
Pick one! Don’t forget to think about your readers and where they will be online. I have a lovely Twitter account where I engage with my blog readers, fellow authors, and my mentoring clients. However, my main social media account for readers is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and it’s here that I share book news, fun stuff, and a variety of content tailored to my readers. As a multi-genre author, I share content for two audiences on one platform – it works for me, but it might not work for you. If you write children’s books and erotica for adults then I’d suggest two Facebook pages!
Having a bio on Amazon, and an active social media account gives you a starting point to launch your book marketing campaigns. There is so much more to sales and marketing but hopefully this has given you the smallest of starts.
Next time you submit a guest post, make sure you provide all the promotional information you can – it will benefit you and your novel to do this. If you’re a new author getting ready to publish, or have just published your debut novel, make sure your readers can find you online.
Keep an eye out for future blog posts about creating an author platform. In the meantime, if you need advice or assistance to create your author platform please take a look at the Services tab on my website or sign up to my monthly newsletter for lots of tips.
This is such a good article for the total noob, Shelley! I’ll add it to my ongoing list 🙂
Thank you so much, Terry. We don’t know what we don’t know, which is why articles like this can be helpful to new writers’
A great article, Shelley! I always feel that being a ‘real person’ on social media is so important and you’ve just underscored this. People buy from people, so this kind of presence is vital. Thank you!
Thanks, Val. You’re absolutely right, I’ve continued to buy from certain authors because they love connecting (making time) for their audience.
Isn’t that just so true, Shelley? I do the same, and I also tend to give up on writers who just ignore their readers, unless of course their books are just so amazing I can’t resist them 🙂