While you may never have ever given it a thought, your author platform can make or break your publishing career, whether you want to traditionally publish your books or go the self publishing route. It's a relatively new concept, but one that's becoming increasingly more important for every author. Buyers, agents and editors look at every potential author's platform before deciding whether to engage them, and an author's platform can mean the difference between having a large indie fan following and having no fans at all. So what's all the fuss about an author platform?
What is an Author Platform?
More than just a few social media accounts, you author platform is your entire combined presence on the internet. Simply put, if someone were to Google your name (or your pen name), all the links that would come up would make up your author platform. The way you create and control this information is the key to reaching more of the right people. For nonfiction authors, your platform necessarily includes your expertise in your chosen field, including academic experience and real-world hands-on contact. For fiction authors, it's another story. Your platform is build upon a lasting relationship between yourself and your readers. Neither type of platform is an overnight process; you'll need to grow your platform for months or years before you see any tangible results. But once your platform starts to influence people, it only grows stronger.
How to Begin Your Author Platform
The first key in building your platform is to take it slow to avoid it looking like a forced process. You want your platform to look organic -- as if it just grew in place without any effort on your part. Take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses and use that list to determine where to spend the most time and effort.
If you write non-fiction, a blog will be your base of operations. This is the easiest way to let people know about your expertise. Write a weekly post about your subject matter, and use these weeks and months to cover tiny details about every corner of your niche. After half a year of writing and marketing your blog, it will be the go-to spot for people with questions about your subject matter.
Fiction authors have another road to travel. With fiction, it's all about the cult of the personality these days. Readers like to know that their favorite authors are people they'd like to have a cup of tea with, or a beer with at the local pub. They like to get to know authors as genuine human beings, and doing this increases the likelihood that they'll buy your next books. Agents and editors look to this as well, since they'll be betting on the ability of their authors to market their work. Social media is the best way for fiction authors to get to know readers. Choose one or two that you're comfortable with and post at each one two or three times a day. Don't spend more than ten minutes a day at each site, or you'll be wasting valuable writing time.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, another good way to get your name out there is to follow other author's blogs and comment on posts. Don't add links to your comments, just become one of the regulars that people have gotten to know. It's like the sand in an hourglass. One grain is nothing, but when you add them all up you've got something substantial. Eventually, that's the way your author platform will look.More on this later...
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!