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While traditionally the work of marketing an author’s book and building an audience rested with the publishing house, today that duty has shifted to the authors themselves. Many bestselling authors are not just great writers, they also have the business acumen to build a platform with an audience hungry for their stories—often before their books hit the printing presses.
What Is an Author Platform?
An author platform refers to a writer’s ability to market their work, using their overall visibility to reach a target audience of potential readers. A writer’s platform might include the reach of their social media accounts, the connections they have with other published authors or literary influencers, and the writer’s relationship with media outlets. The strength of a writing platform is measured by the author’s ability to use their influence and reach in order to sell books and boost their writing career.
Why Is Having a Platform Important for Authors?
For fiction and nonfiction authors alike, the breadth of an author’s platform can be a critical factor in a publisher’s decision to accept a new book or entertain a book deal. Book sales hugely important to publishing houses and literary agents, and a robust author platform increases the likelihood of producing a bestseller. This is not to say that quality content isn't important: For fiction writers especially, a new book will ultimately be judged by its story and writing style. That said, it’s not uncommon for new authors to get a book deal based solely on their social media presence or blogging platform.
4 Steps for Building Your Author Platform
Building an author platform can help you reach new audiences and increase the potential readership of your next book. Here are some tips to help you build your own platform:
- Create a website. One of the most basic steps that a writer can take to build a platform is to create and maintain an up-to-date author website. At the very least, a website should contain your photo, bio, and links to creative writing samples. Websites can also help you build an email list, providing an audience for an email newsletter that can help with future book marketing efforts. Bloggers can also use their website as a platform for publishing short stories, blog posts, or insights into their writing process. A well-maintained website and online presence will help you build your author brand and provide a helpful landing page when someone tries to find your name through search engines.
- Publish articles online. Established and indie authors alike can benefit greatly from publishing articles in outside publications. Reach out to online outlets that specialize in your area of expertise and ask if you can write a guest post. If you’re an emerging or first-time writer without access to outside publishing platforms, you can try self-publishing on your own WordPress blog or on Medium or Tumblr. Having your articles published exposes you to new readers and can be helpful in extending the potential reach of your next book.
- Maintain social media accounts. Like it or not, an active social media presence is an essential aspect of a modern writer career. Successful authors use social media channels to stay in touch with fans and let them know when they start writing their next book. Aspiring writers should know how to use social channels as a form of microblogging, offering writing snippets, promotional materials, and updates to potential ideal readers. Outreach on social media platforms is a fundamental aspect of modern marketing strategies, so maintaining a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook presence should be a priority for writers.
- Explore other media ventures. If you’re experiencing writer’s block or find yourself unable to access traditional writing platforms, there are other ways to expand your reach. Start a podcast with fellow authors where you discuss your craft or a subject you’re passionate about. Host webinars about your area of specific expertise. You never know which of these alternative media ventures will stick with an audience.
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