Building Your Author Platform by Georgie Donaghey
We always endeavour to answer as many questions as we can and to provide you with the necessary tools and services to assist you on your journey to publication. After all, publication is what it is all about right?
You work hard writing, editing, re-writing and editing your submissions until your brain is reduced to marshmallow.
Is it a waste if you don’t get published?
Writing is never a waste of time. Some do it without the intention of ever wanting to be published or even submitting to a publisher. But what about those who want to have their cake and eat it too? Yes, I know quoting a cliché is a big no-no but you get my drift.
Your story is a product. You are a product. It is up to the publisher to sell both and it helps enormously if you already have a name in the industry. I’m not talking about a JK Rowling kind of name let’s think smaller. Let’s start by Googling your name. Many of us have done it and if you haven’t try it now. I’ll wait……….
What did you find? Was there anything at the top of the search page or did you have to scroll to find something? Perhaps you didn’t find any listings at all. Don’t worry if you are in the latter category.
I digress. You are a product. You are a business and what does every business need to get grow? A solid foundation. Your books will sell greater volumes if you have an audience.
Many actors sell books before they hit the shelves. Why? Because they have an already established platform.
You work hard on your writing so why wouldn’t you dedicate the same enthusiasm to building your author platform? There you have it. Simple really. Don’t worry we can do it together.
What is an author platform?
Author – (noun) – A writer of books, articles or documents.
Platform – (noun) - A raised level surface on which people or things can stand.
Don’t worry you won’t need to run off to your local Bunnings and we promise no hammer injuries.
A platform means something different for everyone. One way to explain it would be having a recognised name in the writing industry would provide the ability to sell more books because of who you are and the name you have built up. For example love her or hate her JK Rowling has a recognised name in the industry. The minute she publishes a new book much of the population must have it because of her name and reputation she has built. It could be an instructional manual on making ice cubes in the Antarctic it would still sell.
The importance of having social media accounts and yes, you need more than one these days whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, a blog or multiples of each, can’t be underrated. Don’t look for the quick fix by buying followers or likers as these won’t be people who care about your work or what you have to sell.
Under our ‘Tips’ tab we have a ‘Social Media’ page covering the importance of building your name through these channels. This is where building your platform begins.
If you are an emerging author or illustrator with a shelf full of stories waiting to be published or perhaps you have self-published or have had your writing published in magazines or anthologies yes, you are precisely the person who needs to start that platform and now! You need to get to learn the market you are trying to break into and can do this by joining social media groups, writing groups, library groups, enrolling in courses and general networking with others who write or are involved in the same industry. This is a perfect way to start building your platform and get your name out there. Locking yourself away to write that next great read won’t help when it’s time to market yourself or find your reading audience. No-one will know who you are.
But the big question is should you focus on your writing or your platform?
Writing v’s Audience is a 50/50 split. You need the product to sell but also the audience to buy. It’s all about balance.
Remaining active online is the key. This helps to build your audience while you are busy tapping away in the attic writing that great read. With that said you also need to be somewhat close to publication, within a few years at least. Of course just having an author platform is not going to sell your story to a publisher you need to write quality work.
Ok, so you have a story you believe would be suitable for publication but you have not yet ventured into the world of social media, blogging or an author website. Now is the time to do so.
Setting up a website can be done relatively inexpensively if you don’t count the number of hours spent in building one. Again this applies to setting up a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter account.
Wordpress, Wix, Weebly are just a few sites; there are lots more that are user friendly. A little research should have you on your way.
Perhaps you may like to enlist the services of a website designer. There are reasonably priced web designers out there who will work with you to create the perfect site for you.
Do you need an author platform to get published? The simple answer is NO. But it doesn’t hurt. At the end of the day publishers look for quality work and whether it is suitable for the market they publish for. Having a presence is an added bonus for publishers which makes their job easier when promoting your work. Remember your audience will grow and in turn your platform the more you are published.
You can ‘sell yourself’ by promoting any work you have had published no matter how big or small. Magazine articles, short stories, self-published and up to traditionally published.
Publishers do Google potential authors. Aside from the quality of the submission, publishers look for other publications the author has written, any reviews or articles. They look for any online communities that author might be involved with. They look for any kind of presence or impact that author has made in the genre they are trying to be published in.
Those unclear with what an author platform is can easily mistake it for simple marketing or publicity. These are also important but the foundation of your platform should not rely on one off promotional blasts. The last thing you want to do is bring attention to yourself by screaming ‘Here I am! Buy my book! Buy my book!’
There are lots of ways you can add to building your profile:
- Adding a blog or newsletter to your website.
- Podcasts either visual or audio. This will allow you to build a slightly different community audience which will assist you with your author platform.
- Volunteering at writing festivals, events or workshops.
- Speaking at schools, libraries, writing events etc. Sharing what you have learned with others from the writing community will also assist in platform building. School talks or library readings will also help find your target audience. Working with children checks are needed in some Australian states.
- Networking with others from the writing industry. This helps to get acquainted with other writers and also get your name out there.
Hold your audience carefully in your hands. Don’t suffocate them by shoving your product down their throats.
Try to remember building your platform is like an endurance race and not a sprint.