Expert Round-Up: Building an Author Platform

Building an Author PlatformNFAA: What are some of your favorite strategies for building an author platform?

MARIKA FLATT: At PR by the Book, we believe in combining several elements for a strong author platform. Some of these happen before an author comes to us, such as having a contemporary website, a modern book cover, and a nice headshot. Then, we add two ingredients to our special sauce: media exposure and a strong social media presence.

Social media is becoming an essential part of any PR campaign.  Our social media team works side-by-side with our PR team to ensure that all conversations around an author and their book are closely monitored and addressed.  Our combined services create cohesive branding across all relevant social media platforms, position the author as a thought leader in their industry, and make sure all of their PR efforts are fully optimized.

Marika Flatt is the founder of PR by the Book, a literary publicity firm, based in both Austin and Nashville, that has been thriving for over 14 years. www.prbythebook.com 

BOB BLY: I am not an academic, but I consider myself a scholar, or at least a student, of my topic: direct mail. I attend workshops and conferences, subscribe to industry periodicals, study the direct mail that crosses my desk each day, read numerous books on direct marketing, and regularly exchange results on what’s working with clients, colleagues, and competitors. Therefore, when I offer myself as a leading expert to clients, I do it with a clear conscience, knowing I have done everything in my power to make that claim legitimate. Am I the undisputed best direct mail copywriter in the world? No. But I constantly strive to be the best direct mail copywriter I can be, which is all anyone can ask.

Although far from a household name, Bob Bly has made a successful career establishing himself as a “mini-guru” in the niche field of direct mail copywriting, where he has worked for more than 20 years. www.bly.com

BRIAN JUD: Authors generally assume that if their platforms are significant in numbers, potential buyers will either buy their book upon its publication or spread the word about it to others. But this is not often the case. Simply because people have heard of you or have befriended you on Facebook does not mean they will buy your book or support its introduction. 

While it is good to have a large number of potential buyers in your platform, it is critical to have a smaller group who will spread the word about you and your book. In other words, the quantity of people in your network is not as important as the quality of the relationships you have with those who are, or could become, your advocates. Communicate through people who have a large following and have a reason to support you, and who will communicate to those in a larger group—those who could be potential buyers.

Brian Jud is the Executive Director of APSS (www.bookapss.org) and the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. 

AMY COLLINS: Hands-down, the BEST use of my clients’ time and energy is spent on OTHER people’s platforms. The best way to have people find you, get to know you, and appreciate you, is to GET OFF OF YOUR OWN PLATFORMS and go visit others’. Participate in conversations on other pages. Offer content, articles, and value to people with bigger platforms than you have. Popular sites are constantly looking for new content and you can make a big difference in THEIR workload while increasing the number of people who can see you. Once readers get to know you on other platforms, they will come find yours. Offer excerpts, “top 10” lists, infographics…be creative!

Amy Collins is the president of New Shelves Books, one of the best-known book sales and marketing agencies in the U.S. For a free ebook copy of her book The Write Way, visit http://www.newshelves.com/store/

SANDRA BECKWITH: I recommend a three-step strategy for nonfiction author platform-building. 

Step one: Define your audience as specifically as you possibly can. The more targeted you are, the more successful you’ll be. 

Step two: Start early. Don’t wait until your book is in production to start building your platform. Finding and connecting with your target audience takes time and patience. The only people who build platforms overnight are carpenters and woodworkers. 

Step three: Leverage your knowledge to become known as a subject matter expert. Pursue publicity (news media exposure), build an e-mail list and use it to stay connected by sending a helpful and audience-centered newsletter, pursue leadership opportunities in industry and professional associations, blog and guest blog, and speak in person or at online conferences. Do the work early, and you’ll have fans waiting to buy your book as soon as it’s available.

Get book marketing instructor and coach Sandra Beckwith’s free “Top Five Free Book Promotion Resources” and subscribe to her weekly Build Book Buzz how-to newsletter at https://buildbookbuzz.com/gift

STEPHANIE BARKO: 

  1. Hire a WordPress designer and go live with a professionally designed author website a year before pub date.
  2. If your site hasn’t undergone an SEO audit in a year, pay for one now.
  3. Install Yoast SEO Premium and use it to optimize your blog posts so Google can find you.
  4. Maintain social profiles where your readers and future readers hang out.

Stephanie Barko, literary publicist, has been helping nonfiction writers and historical novelists find their audiences for 11 years, and was named a 2015 Preditors & Editors Readers Poll Top Ten Promotional Resource.

If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Ultimate Author Marketing Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here

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