If you have been spending any time around people in the publishing industry then you must have heard the term “Author Platform”. It is a term used to define the demand for an author’s work, and is often considered well before the author’s work is even produced.
In essence it is a measure of how much demand there will be for a person’s book… or ebook.
If you don’t have an author platform then there is nobody anticipating or ready to buy your book and you are unlikely to sell many copies when your book is released. On the other hand if you already have a good author platform then you have an audience who is enthusiastic for your upcoming book.
Building a strong author platform involves establishing your presence and cultivating your readership. It is all about audience development.
The model for building an author platform has been changing significantly in recent years. Alan Rinzler explained recently over at Forbes, “By definition, the old model of the author platform was the writer’s public visibility and reputation that the publisher’s publicity department used to promote and sell the book.”
He explains how the old way favored authors with “high gloss visibility” in the national media or “big buzz” for recent accomplishments. “We insisted on a stellar track record in book sales and appearances on radio and TV. Everyone understood that the bigger the platform, the higher the advance.”
So why has it changed? Because the way people choose books has changed. Today readers are more likely to go online to search for something to read than to pick up book tips from a TV show or newspaper column.
Rinzler goes on to explain that the new model for author platform still involves visibility and reputation but revolves around interaction between authors and their readers.
You should start building an author platform as early as possible since you want to have a strong following when you launch your book.
There are many ways to build a good author platform however every strategy should include the following elements:
Set up Your Web Page or Blog
As an author you need to have your own blog or web site. Your web site should be an easy way for your readers and fans to find up-to-date information including your author bio, upcoming events (book signings, readings, trips), and links to purchase your books.
Certainly you might set up an author page at other book and author community sites but you should also have your own site. You can set up a blog free at Blogger.com or WordPress.com but it is better to have your own domain name and web hosting service, which is typically available for as low as $4 per month through hosting companies like Hostgator and Bluehost.
For years I considered social networks like Twitter and Facebook to be time wasters – because I didn’t realize just how authors have been using social networks effectively in their business. After I discovered what was actually happening I wrote a post at Worldwide Freelance entitled “Why Should Writers Use Twitter?” Much of that advice applies to other social networks too.
The power of leveraging social networks to build your author platform comes down to tweeting, posting helpful messages, and joining the conversation on relevant topics. By doing this you are building your visibility and reputation in your field.
I am sure that your readers will be looking for you online and on Facebook and Twitter in particular. The good news is that your followers on social networks will be among the first to buy your book when it comes out.
Obtain Book Reviews
Book reviews are very important to building your reputation as an author and helping people to finalize their decision to buy your book. There are various ways to encourage book reviews which I’ll cover in a separate post.
More Ways to Increase Your Visibility
Other activities which will help you to build your author platform include giving interviews, making appearances at book events and doing “book signings”.
In closing some wise words from Jane Friedman, of Writer’s Digest, which appeared at WriterUnboxed:
“Getting a book published does NOT equate to readership. You must cultivate a readership every day of your life, and you start TODAY. Your readers will not be interested in reading just one book; they will be interested in everything and anything you do—and that includes interacting with you online. Audience development doesn’t happen overnight (or even in 6 months or a year)—and it’s a process that continues for as long as you want to have a readership. It shouldn’t be delayed, postponed, or discounted for one minute.”