Building an Author Platform
© Paul Callaghan - All Rights Reserved

 

 

It seems that almost every blog, writing course and marketing strategy for authors I have come across lately wants to talk about platform. So what is an author’s platform? How do you build one and what can it do for you?

·       What is an Author’s Platform?  

Basically, your platform is the number of people who are interested in your work and either already are, or are likely to become customers. It’s important to remember that last part. Customers. Your mum is probably interested in your work but you need to sell, and most of us owe too much to mum to even think of charging her.  

If you are looking to go the traditional route for publishing it is likely that your agent or publisher will expect you to develop a platform before you get a contract. If you are self-publishing then you really need to establish that will be a market for your work before you put in all the effort. 

·       How do you Build Your Platform? 

There are probably as many ways to build a platform as there are authors or books. If you have published before, then those buyers are obviously prime targets for selling to again. But what about those authors just starting out? How do you build your platform from scratch?  

In a word, it comes down to marketing. Get yourself out on the social media networks, forums for your niche and blog your little heart out. Article marketing is not dead yet despite what some of the doomsayers believe. Offline, connect with local groups or write for local newspapers and newsletters. Take an interest in people in your target market and interact with them.  

Make sure that you always present your best quality work. There’s a common saying on the internet that ‘content is king’. I think it’s more important to remember that ‘quality content is king’.  

Don’t be one of those writers who turn everything into a sales opportunity, though. Sometimes – OK most of the time- you have to give away a little for free before your customer moves from potential to actual. That may be something like a free report or an ebook or just as simple as a comment on someone else’s blog. I have picked up followers and friends simply by retweeting a message or liking a page too. And some of those followers become customers. 

One of the key factors for marketing anything is timing. You can’t generally predict when a prospect is going to make the decision to become a customer. What you can do is promote a feeling of respect for you and your work. If you come across as a reliable expert or at least someone who cares, there is a good chance that you will come to mind when that purchasing decision is made.  

  • What Can a Platform Do for You? 

A platform will help you to succeed. Firstly it establishes you as someone who should be listened to and read. It gives you a certain authority which hopefully will tick over into sales or a book contract and then sales. 

Secondly, building a platform allows you to explore other outlets for your creativity. If you are up to your knuckles in your latest blockbuster novel and can’t quite see how your hero is going to get of the latest trap you’ve set for him, an hour or two surfing the social networks or commenting on blogs could be just what you need. Find out what other people are doing and what your market wants.  

You should really begin to build your platform even before you write your book. At the very least this will help you to work out if there is a market for your work. Understanding your potential customers will help you in targeting your book. And while you listen and interact with your platform it is entirely possible that new ideas will come to you. Your market will tell you what to write for the follow up books. 

  • How Long Does it Take to Build a Platform? 

There’s no set answer to that except that it does take time. Don’t expect to have thousands of people queuing up to be your follower or friend instantly. But it does grow as you become more widely recognised.  

Even if you have written a bestseller you will still have to market further. At the very least you will have to maintain your platform. With a bestseller under your belt you might change the way that you build your platform e.g. TV shows, reviews from top magazines etc. But you will still need a platform. It’s likely that platform building will last for as long as you want to sell your books. So what are you waiting for? Get platform building. 

 

About the Author: Paul Callaghan is a freelance writer, blogger, editor, proof reader, social media and content strategist and a general word nerd. Check out his website at www.freelancewriter.co.nz

 

 


 

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