Your writer platform is the sum total of your potential to sell books. It’s based upon your notoriety, reputation, influence, as well as your ability to connect with people.
Imagine that you have two writers. Both are science educators. Both have written a book on best practices for getting girls and young women interested in STEM, and keeping them interested during their high school years. Each of them is looking for a publisher.
The difference is that one of them hasn’t created any sort of social media presence, they haven’t connected with any media types, and they don’t have an author website. The other has created all of these things, and has earned the attention of several thousands of followers. They’ve also been the subject of two small write ups on science education blogs.
Obviously the second writer has a larger platform. They’re in a better position to create interest in their upcoming book, and publishers will see them as more worthy of an investment.
The Value of Building a Writer Platform The Right Way
At this point, you might assume that this is a no brainer. Just put together a website, create a social media presence, and accumulate enough followers to build credibility with potential customers and publishers. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are plenty of mistakes that writers can make along the way:
- Failing to Keep Content up to Date on Your Website And Social Media Pages
- Assuming You Don’t Have to Make an Active Outreach Effort
- Leaving All of The Answers in Your Book
- Not Paying Adequate Attention to Production Values
- Focusing on Quantity Not Quality Engagement
- Too Much Marketing Not Enough Content
- Not Allowing People to Connect With You
Fortunately, there are things you can do to build a platform that actually works for you. Here are some tips to start building yours.
Know What Publishers Are Looking For
Publishers don’t simply care about your writing skills. They care about your ability to sell your book. They care about your ability to attract an audience at a signing, and to get bloggers and reporters interested in talking to or about you. They’re going to want to know if you have a large social media following, an active social media presence, a significant email list, and clear and consistent messaging.
Build Your Online Home
This is the first thing you’ll do when you build your author’s platform. Most writers choose to build a website as their home base. However, there are some who choose to use Facebook or other social media platform. A web page is usually best as it gives you the most freedom to set things up just as you like them, to publish blog posts and writing samples, even set up a means for people to order your books.
Your website should be well-designed, easy to use, and visually appealing. It may be worth hiring a professional to develop your page. Another option is to use WordPress or another similar resource designed to help you create and publish professional looking web pages.
Now is the time to consider SEO. This is the practice of optimizing your website so that it appears at the top of search engine results when people search for terms that are relevant to you and your writing. This can be a complicated task, but there are some guidelines for beginners to follow.
Hone Your Branding And Messaging
As a writer, you’ve probably already established a voice for yourself. Now it’s time to expand that voice into an authentic brand. Here, you have a lot of leeway. The main point is to build a brand that is authentic and that connects with your target audience. Try answering some questions to get started:
- If you could express your message in a sentence, what would that be?
- How are you different from other writers addressing similar topics?
- What is the personality that you want to broadcast to your audience?
Once you decide on your branding, that will impact your entire internet presence. For example, if you write about health topics and want to come across as serious but empathetic, you might create a page on your website for answering reader health questions called, ‘Answers to Your Important Health Concerns’. If you write about cooking for college students, you might have a page entitled, ‘Fun And Fiasco! Your Cooking Questions’.
While you don’t want to copy anyone, you can look to other writers for inspiration. Check out the websites and social media accounts of writers you admire. See how they are engaging with their readers and communicating their message.
Culture matters. It’s imperative that you understand your audience, and that your branding connects with them. If you have a global audience this requires a bit of research as what is meaningful to people in one region may be off putting to people in another.
Create Social Media Accounts
Getting and staying in the public eye is an important part of being an author. It’s what keeps people interested in what you have to say. Today, that means being active on social media.
However, the approach can be a bit more complicated. As a ‘regular person’ you may Tweet, share content on social media, and engage with others, however it suits you. As an author, when you do these things, you are doing so as the representative of your writer brand. That means creating and curating content that will be relevant to your readers and potential readers.
It also means carefully selecting the platforms where you will be active. Some writers have the most success sticking to mainstream platforms like Facebook. Others connect better using sites like Reddit or Tumblr. Know your audience.
Finally: Start Reaching Out
All of your goals in building your writer platform will involve building and connecting to an audience. This includes email subscribers and social media followers. You accomplish these goals by establishing a good reputation, building relationships with people who are influential to your audience, and getting your name out there. Do this by:
- Identifying industry influencers, following them on social media, and engaging with their content.
- Pitching articles to relevant online publications.
- Taking part in discussions on relevant social media platforms.
- Earning backlinks to your content.
By doing these things, you will attract positive attention from both readers and publishers.
Erica Sunarjo graduated from South Texas College majoring in Marketing and Creative Writing. She used her knowledge to make a difference in the realm of business copywriting and invested heavily in traveling and language learning. Right now Erica is the most effective writer at The Word Point.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit covering websites, blogging and social media for authors. Check it out!