As a new writer or author, you may have heard that you need to have an author platform in order to sell more books. Some agents and publishers won’t even consider working with an author until they can prove that they have an established platform.
This leaves new writers asking: what is an author platform? And what do I need to do to get one?
Today I want to talk about what an author platform is, why you should focus on it early and a few ways to start building your platform today.
What is an Author Platform?
In simple terms, an Author Platform is the people who you can reach with your work.
Put another way, your author platform is the collection of people who interact with you as an author on social media, read your stories and blog posts, and buy your book.
These are the people who have already expressed interest in you and your work and enjoy hearing from you.
Your platform can reach across multiple social media accounts and locations on and off the internet. This is the network of people who you have potential influence with.
For a more in-depth look at what an author platform is, I encourage you to check out Jane Friedman’s blog post on the subject. Her blog is a great resource for new writers.
Building a large author platform takes time and energy, but it can well worth it when done properly.
Do You Need An Author Platform?
The bigger your author platform, the more influence you have with readers. This influence can translate into more book sales.
People who don’t know that you or your books exist can’t read or buy them. And once people know you exist, many of them need a reason to trust you before they will take a chance on your book.
If you are looking to traditionally publish your work, many agents and publishers want to see that you have a following before they will invest in your work. This is especially true if you are writing non-fiction.
However, even if you plan to self-publish, focusing on your author platform from the very beginning can help you gain momentum and sell more books in the long run.
How To Build an Author Platform
There are many ways to build your author platform. I am going to go over several methods to consider.
However, before you start on your platform, you need to look at your product.
The most important step to building your author platform is to produce good work.
Take pride in your work! Edit and polish it like it matters, because it does.
That doesn’t mean your writing needs to be perfect or even that your book needs to be finished. Start with shorter content if you must. Just take your work seriously and get your writing out there.
Once you have started sharing your work, you can start growing your platform as a writer. Most authors should choose a combination of methods in order to build their platform effectively.
I recommend using each of these techniques to varying degrees:
1. Understand Your Target Audience
For authors, this means to do some research and find your ideal reader.
I.E. What kinds of people will want to read your book?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your book is for “everyone”. It’s not.
Claiming that it is for everyone is just a lazy way of avoiding doing the work to learn about your target reader. Start with your genre and other books that are like yours. Then narrow down your target reader from there.
Once you know a bit about who is most likely to enjoy your work, you can start connecting with those people by meeting them where they are at.
2. Show Up on Social Media
Once you understand your target audience, you will have more luck finding them on social media.
Social media is a great way to reach people you don’t know who have had no contact with you so far. Engaging with people on social media makes them more comfortable with you and makes them more willing to try out your books.
There are so many types of social media out there, but I suggest choosing only one or two to start with. Build your following on those platforms and learn more about what your target reader wants to see from you before you move on to more social media channels.
Understanding your ideal reader will also help you choose the best social media outlets for your writing. Look at the demographics of each type of social media you are considering and compare them to that of your target reader.
3. Build an Author Website
Social media is a great place to start, but it’s not enough to build your platform. Social Media is temporary, and it belongs to someone else (the social media companies).
You want to own your own platform if you truly want it to help you sell more books in the long term.
This is where your website comes in. Your website allows you more control over what your audience sees from you and how you interact with them.
The goal of your social media interactions should be to lead them to visit your website after a few interactions with you.
Many authors balk at the idea of building a website because it’s often complicated to do on your own, and is expensive to hire a professional to do it.
However, if you want to be taken seriously as an author, this is one place where it pays to invest in yourself and your future.
If the idea of building your own website is truly daunting, check out Pub-Site. They specialize in providing simple and affordable building tools for author websites.
4. Start an Email List
Whether or not you have a website, you absolutely MUST start building your email list. An engaged email list can sell more books for you than all of your social media accounts combined.
But you have to get started.
Your email list gives you the opportunity to contact the people who love your work whenever you want.
Social media algorithms do not let you reach all of your followers, and most social media platforms do not allow members to message large numbers of their followers at the same time.
These limitations mean you can’t consistently talk to the people who want to hear from you. Email allows you to do just that.
Building an engaged email list improves your reach and helps your readers feel more connected with you. It also lets you tell them every time you have a launch or special deal. And the best email platforms even give you detailed data on what content gives you the most engagement.
Start with an email marketing software such as Mailer-lite or Convert-Kit. Then research different ways to get people to join your list. List building takes time, so start early and be patient with yourself.
Your author platform is made up of the people who follow you and want to be informed about you and your books.
Your platform gives you more influence with readers and can lead to more book sales.
Start building your platform early by understanding your target reader, showing up on social media, making your author website, and starting your email list.
Are you looking to build your author platform? Tell me more about your books in the comments!