The Author Platform
I’ve heard quite a few websites discussing your “Author Platform” and how important it is to have one. In this blog entry, I’m going to try to break that down into easier steps to help you with yours. Yeah, I know, I’m still building mine…but I didn’t have to pay an “expert” hundreds of dollars for the same advice I’m going to be going over here. It’s not rocket science and you shouldn’t have to pay for this information.
First, write a book. Or books. You’ve got to be an author to have an author platform. This doesn’t mean it has to be published yet. If you’re in the process, it’s fine to go ahead with the others steps. If you’re planning to release the book, go ahead and start building an author platform. It will only help and certainly can’t hurt, even if your planned release isn’t in the near future. Building the platform will let you start generating buzz for the book even before it’s finished. If you’ve already finished the book, it’s not too late to build the platform.
This isn’t any kind of race. Build and write at your pace. However, having said that, the platform does take time to build and grow. Again, this isn’t a race. It’s a marathon. Take your time and do it your way. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The best thing you can do is be honest and be yourself. Trying to be anything else will show and won’t seem genuine. Build it slow or build it fast. It’s up to you. Never let anyone tell you otherwise or tell you there’s only one way to do any of this. Supposed experts are most-likely trying to sell you something. So, in no particular order, I give you the basics of the author platform. I, in no way, claim to be an expert. There will undoubtedly be things I forget to add or things I get wrong. If you’ve had a different experience or know how to do things better, please let me know. We can share it here and help each other out.
Build a blog. Blogs are great ways for interacting with your audience on a personal level. You can go into much more detail and express more information than in a social media entry. Most social media entries are supposed to be short. People tend to skip over or ignore long posts. Blogs are different. They came to the blog to read what you have to say. Be expressive, be open, be honest and be yourself. Blog about anything. Writer’s tips, that vacation to the mountains, the fishing trip, and the meal you had at the new restaurant, or the garden you’re building in the backyard. You can literally blog about anything you like. The trick is being consistent in posting content. I’ve been guilty of that myself. It’s not always easy to do.
Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and many more. They’re all platforms that you can use to get the message out about your writing. However, unlike the blog, you need to keep the posts shorter. Small, digestible bites. Also, you need to post more than just links to your books. I know, this is starting to sound time consuming. Well, it can be. If all you post is links to buy your book, people will lose interest, quickly. You need to engage. Post a pic of your dog, talk about your passions, be fun and smart. However, I recommend avoiding politics and religion. They are guaranteed ways to alienate half your audience right off the bat. I try to keep my personal religion/politics out of my posts, but I can’t help posting things about law enforcement. I can’t help it. I’ve been a cop too long. I’m sorry if that upsets some people, but that’s who I am and I can’t/won’t change it.
Build a Website. They’re easy to do. There are dozens of sites that will help you build yours. For example this page is from WordPress. They’re great. But if they’re not for you, then try Weebly, Wix, GoDaddy and about a hundred others. Just Google website building sites. You’ll find lots of them. Your website doesn’t have to be extravagant. You just need the basics. You need an “about you page.” A short bio and a pic. You want all of your contact info. Social Media, website, email and so on. A page for your book(s) and where to buy them. You also need to build an email list for a newsletter. I’m still working on this one. If you’ve got any advice, I’d love to hear it.
Never underestimate the power of Hashtags. Use them in all of your social media posts, your blog, your contact information and so on. I found that instead of having to think up a bunch of them or hunt for what’s trending, I use best-hashtags.com. It’s free and easy to use. Just put in your topic, hit search, then copy the results. Bingo, easy as pie with no muss or fuss. Trust me, use the hashtags. To borrow a phrase from Star Wars: You have no idea of the power of the hashtag.
I know there are things I’m missing. I know there are things I should be doing or doing better. This entire process is an experience and I’m learning as I go. I’m more than happy to share the things I’ve found that worked for me along the way. I hope they work for you, too. If you’ve found something that you’ve had success with, share it here. I’m sure that we’ll all appreciate it.
Writing has always been a journey for me. I am enjoying every step along the way. But remember, my journey in no way means you don’t get to take one. I’ve been to the beach, that doesn’t mean no one else can. This isn’t a competition. I don’t have to make someone else fail in order for me to succeed. You don’t have to fail for anyone to succeed. Success is something we can all experience without diminishing anyone else’s.
I have a big book shelf in my bedroom. That shelf has lots of different writers that I have enjoyed over the years. Just because I like Tony Hillerman doesn’t mean I can’t like Dean Koontz. Just because I like Edgar Allen Poe doesn’t mean I can’t like Jack London. Just because someone reads my books doesn’t mean they won’t read yours, too. It’s not one or the other. There is a lot of room on the bookshelf. Plenty of room for us all. Readers will always look for new stories and adventures to read.
Writing is a journey. Let’s take it together. The End is Only the Beginning.
By the way, here’s my social media links. Please check them out, give them a like or a follow and say hi. I know I have followers on the blog and my not see my social media. I look forward to meeting you all.
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