This is a guest blog by Laina Turner of Writing Warriors Collective.
When it comes to a fiction author platform, it’s a bit like the chicken and egg dilemma.
What comes first? The book or the platform?
The answer is BOTH! Doesn’t that fill you with joy? The idea of writing your novel AND building your author platform at the same time!
All sarcasm aside I’m not joking. You have to juggle both if you want to sell books. It’s the single most challenging part of being an author, in my opinion. If your goal is to sell your books, you must also market them. People can’t buy what they can’t find.
Marketing and writing aren’t easy, but they’re doable.Marketing and writing aren't easy, but they're doable. - Laina Turner https://www.angelajford.com/building-your-fiction-author-platform/ via @aford21 #bookmarketing #websites Click To Tweet
It’s about creating a consistent and manageable list of tasks. The key word here is manageable. Don’t set yourself up for frustration by creating an impossible list. You might not want to take the slow route, but it’s better to be realistic. You’ll still get there, and the journey will be much more enjoyable.
What IS an author platform? Many writers think it’s interchangeable with the phrase, book marketing, but it’s not. An author platform is PART of book marketing, but it’s by no means the whole thing.
Jane Friedman said it best. The author platform is, “an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.”
Your marketing efforts contribute to building that platform.
I know you might be thinking no one cares who you are but you’re wrong. Maybe no one cares right now except your family and friends, but you can change that. Your goal should be to find and engage readers who will be clamoring for your books as you write and publish them.
So how do you build your platform if you’re just starting out? I like to think of it in 3 buckets:
The tools, the content, the strategy.
Your author platform needs an anchor. The place your fans know they can find the latest and greatest about you. Usually, that’s a website though it can be a social media platform. Keep in mind social media isn’t controlled by you and it can disappear at any minute. Much better to buy your home (website) rather than rent (social media).
You do need to have a social media presence but don’t think you need to jump on every social media bandwagon. That’s guaranteed to leave you frustrated.
Find where your ideal audience lives and cultivate that social media stream. Get to a good place where you’re in a routine, and it’s easy. Then layer in the next.
In the online marketing world content is king. Whether that’s a blog post, social media post, or images you use for the previously mentioned.
Creating good content helps you build an audience by attracting them to what you have to say. Building an audience is the key to creating a sustainable author career. Any top-producing salesman knows that it’s easier to keep a client than it is to get a new one and while you’re an author you’re also a salesman. That’s why it’s so important to get people hooked on your first book. Getting them to read your next books is an easier sell than a new reader.
However, building an audience isn’t about constant one-way self-promotion. It’s about engaging your audience and building a relationship with them. You want readers to like your books but also to feel connected to you as an author. That’s the part that builds the loyalty where they’ll read whatever you publish.
Let’s face it. Marketing can be a lot of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. You can’t ignore the importance of having a clear marketing goal and a strategy to get there. So if the spaghetti DOES stick, you’ll know what you did and why it’s sticking so you can repeat the behavior.
I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have a destination in mind, a goal, you’ll have a hard time getting where you want to go.
Your initial goal for your author platform is to connect with readers and get them on your email list. If you don’t have an email list yet then developing one should be your priority.
Angela has a great post on the topic here: 5 Ways to Use Email Marketing to Sell More Books
I can’t stress enough how important this step is to building your overall platform.
If you’re starting from zero, your first 30-day goal might be to add 30 people to your list.
Now you need a strategy to get there.
First, you need to create something readers want in exchange for giving you their email address.
- Offer a free short story.
- A free chapter.
- The backstory on a favorite character.
Then you need to engage potential readers, so they see you have this awesome free content. You can do this through social media, promotion of blog posts if you blog, and word of mouth (an often overlooked communication method).
Slowly you will begin to build your author platform. You’ll have hundreds of readers who will feel connected to you as an author, and your writing and marketing machine will be in constant motion.
Laina Turner is an author, educator, and blogger. When she’s not writing fiction or working with other authors, you can find her at the local coffee shop writing or people watching.