My regular readers may have noticed that I have a brand new logo on my website (and my new readers will just assume I was always so professional). Whether you’re pursuing traditional or self -publishing, it is critical that you understand how to build an author platform and develop your personal brand.
I will continue to share my journey towards landing a literary agent and publishing Twist of Fate (and hopefully many more books!) so you can benefit from the lessons I’m learning, including how to build an author platform. Are you not here as an author and just waiting for me to publish my darn books already? I’m working on it! In the meantime, check out my latest lifestyle post and recipe instead!
How to build an author platform
Do your research. I have a degree in English and communication and a post-graduate certificate in public relations, so I promise I’m not just making stuff up. I’m not saying you need to pursue professional training (though continuing to learn throughout your life is certainly not a bad thing), but you can do some homework from the comfort of your bed. Do any of these titles appeal to you? They outline the topics that are the cornerstones of an author platform. Pick one (or all six) and apply the lessons (many are free on Kindle Unlimited).
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization: Learn Search Engine Optimization: A Complete Guide by Kenneth Lewis
- Social Media Marketing: Step by Step Instructions For Advertising Your Business by Noah Gray and Michael Fox
- Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy
- Freakishly Effective Social Media for Network Marketing: How to Stop Wasting Your Time on Things That Don’t Work and Start Doing What Does! by Ray and Jessica Higdon
- Social Media: Social Media Marketing – How To Build And Execute Your Own Internet Marketing Strategy by M.J. Brown
- Social Media Marketing Toolbook for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram & Beyond by Jason McDonald, Ph.D.
Have a polished personal brand. On all of my social media channels, I’m opwrites (Olivia Peters writes) and that’s also my domain. When you land on my pages, you can see my full name because you need to know it in order to, you know, buy my books, and if you Google Olivia Peters, my site comes up. Be consistent with your name on all your channels so you’re easy to find and either take a professional headshot (I’m working up the courage to do this with James), design an awesome logo, or both so that people like what they see when they land on your pages.
Make the jump onto social media. I didn’t have social media accounts other than LinkedIn until I decided I wanted to publish a book. Whether you try and go the traditional route like I am or self-publish, you’ll be expected to have a platform and do some of your own marketing. It’s impossible to do that nowadays without social media, especially if you’re writing in the contemporary romance genre like I am. So either get started or ramp up your efforts!
Have a web presence. You need somewhere for potential readers to learn about you and your books, and that means you need (at least) a landing page. You get bonus points for creating content that makes readers want to come back and subscribe. I’d recommend investing a bit of money and not having WordPress, Blogger, or Wix in your URL so you look more professional.
Engage with your followers. If people take the time to leave you a comment, reply. Check out your followers’ pages and social media accounts and “like” their content too. This can be difficult if you have a lot of subscribers, which is a great problem to have. You can make visits in waves and it’s not like you have need to do it every day, but you do need to get out there and show you’re grateful for the support.
Create anticipation. Full disclosure that I need to get better at this. I’ve been in the corporate communication and marketing space for years, but branding myself is somewhat new and I’m still figuring things out. If this is you, don’t worry. The alithrograms change constantly, so there’s no reason why you can’t change your approach. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Consistency will pay off and something will stick. My next tactic? Book teasers on Instagram every Saturday (without an accompanying blog post because I’m a one woman show over here, so make sure to follow me on the ‘gram so you don’t miss out).
Build a subscriber list. This is critical. If you have a new book coming, you want to create buzz with your subscribers and give them sneak peeks ahead of everyone else. If you’re hosting a giveaway, you want to let them know first. In fact, I have one coming up (hint, hint, go subscribe if you haven’t already!). You don’t have to create endlessly free content to get subscribers because many people download and then unsubscribe (I’ve totally done that). Create engaging content people want to read and the rest will follow. This is a long term commitment, people.
Attend conferences and events. I’m going to my first writing conference in September and I can’t wait. In addition to the amazing opportunity of pitching literary agents live, I am so excited to network with other authors and industry professionals and attend workshops with leading experts. It’s a great way to continue your education and keep up to date on what’s happening in industry (and hey, maybe make some new friends too!).
What are your best tips to build a platform? I’d love to know.
To see bonus pictures of our boxer, Buster, and get a sneak peek into my life with James, head over to Instagram. Don’t forget to follow our hashtag #authoropwrites, turn our post notifications on, and show us some love with a like or follow! You can also join my street team through a private Facebook group with direct access to me (and exclusive content)! This is where my readers become my friends.
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