You don’t have anything published yet, but you’ve heard that building an author platform is important. What does this mean and how should you begin? In simplest terms, your author platform will showcase you as a writer, position you to be visible to readers, and eventually help you sell books. In the modern era, the essential building blocks of an online platform include a website and activity on social media. A vigorous platform can also include blogs, newsletters, speaking engagements, and more. Everyone’s platform will be different, but it will serve the main purpose of making you visible to potential readers and fans. Here’s are a couple of great, practical articles on how to build your platform: Author Platform Do’s and Building a 21st Century Author Platform.
Today, though, I want to talk about why you should begin building a platform, even if you’re book isn’t published yet. An active platform will benefit you in many ways. It will help you:
Find your community.
As you interact on your favorite social media sites, you can consciously build a group of like-minded friends. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and I’ve found tremendous support from the online writing community. I’ve also purposefully interacted with and joined groups that relate to my writing genre. I’m primarily a science fiction writer, so I’m active with other sci-fi fans online.
Interact with future readers on your platform.
Know who your largest reader demographic is likely to be, and begin interacting with them online. Remember, with most social media interactions, you are not trying to sell something. Rather, you are sharing interesting content, showcasing your personality, and supporting others. When the time comes, and you have a cool, new book to share, your online friends will be excited for you.
Before my first book was published, I designed a website and began a blog. I wrote about things I knew – mostly teaching and parenting. I created a mailing list and sent a once per week inspirational email to my subscribers. My intention was to build a relationship with them and introduce them to my writing style. Years later, those original followers remain some of my most loyal fans, and they are the first to buy my books.
Set up a mechanism for future book sales.
Having a business page on Facebook will enable you to create ads for your novel on FB and Instagram. You can announce a sale on Twitter. Your website will be able to host your book titles and links for purchase. As you build human interactions online, you’ll also be building infrastructure to help market and sell your future books.
With so many options, how do you choose your approach? My best piece of advice is to do what feels comfortable and what you can manage. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your author platform won’t be either. But, if you do a little bit every day, you’ll create a presence for yourself, online and in your community, that can later be leveraged when you have a book to sell. Over time, you can adjust your approach, modify your brand, and add to your platform.
Everyone’s platform will look and feel different, reflective of the brand you are trying to showcase. There’s no magic formula, but you’ll develop it over time, so there’s no reason to wait!