Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Building Your Author Platform


An author platform is as important to those established as it is to writers not yet published. Many authors know the importance of building a writing platform. However, many new writers are not sure about building a platform because they feel they have nothing to offer. This is not true. There are many reasons why as a writer (established or not yet published) you need to do this.

·         To build a fan base
·         Spread the word about your book(s)
·         Show you’re an expert in your field
·         Helps you find an agent and/or publisher
·         Builds your online presence
·         Proves your ability to promote and sell your book on a national or international level

I would love to tell you all you have to do is write and leave promotional and marketing concerns to your publisher, agent and publicist, but those days are gone. There is much more expected from writers, beyond a great manuscript. If you are already published, it’s not too late to build your platform and if you’re just starting out…then get started today if you seriously consider yourself a writer.

The first step is to recognize you are a professional. You don’t have to be published, but you do need to be working on becoming published and see yourself as a professional writer and once you’re published keep the momentum going. Your passions are as a writer, to your fans and to the business of writing.

Now, you might be wondering, “What is the best way to build my platform as a writer?” or “How much time is it going to take to build my platform? I need time to write.”

You can spend as little as an hour a week to make a huge difference in your marketing efforts. If you seek avenues suited to your personality and writing goals, you will be infinitely more likely to achieve your dream and build a successful author platform. Building your platform should not, however, be thought of as an “economic leverage point,” but as an extension of your work and passions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. This will only lead to failure.

With this said, I do want to share some tips and ideas to help you start building your platform. Also, ask others you respect and see has being successful with their platforms on tips. Use what you think will work for you and your work. There is no right or wrong, only your efforts at spreading the word about your writing and passion to do so. Be passionate about your approach; clearly and authentically speak from the heart.

Here are some things to help get you started:

1.      As a writer (published or not) reflect on the best publishing avenues—really ask yourself as a writer what is important to you, who will read your work and the best placement for its success.
2.      Writers are readers. Read in the genres you write in. Writer reviews on those books for your blog, review sites, etc.
3.      Really, understand the publishing industry. Read publisher and editor blogs and articles.
4.      Treat publishers and editors with understanding and respect. Don’t post about them in a negative light on your blog, website or in social groups. Believe it or not, but they do Google your name when you submit work for review.
5.      Don’t thing of writing, reading and the business of writing as a separate divisions or facets of your career. They are all part of the same puzzle.

Once you understand and start applying these things, it is time to start building the avenues in which others will use to learn more about you, your writing and passions.

1.      Create your own website with blogs, forums, newsletters and photos. You can check out my website as an example at http://vsgrenier.com
2.      Blog or write for an established website or writing group. I do this and it helps. I write for Utah Children’s Writers and Writers On the Move bi-monthly. I also submit work to Ezine Articles.
3.      Figure out if you have a niche market or how you can create one, and then build your platform around it. I do suggest being careful on niches. You don’t want to limit your writing or expertise either.
4.      Do speaking engagements in your community, at schools, libraries, churches, local writing groups, etc. The possibilities are endless.
5.      Teach classes or workshops. I do this at conferences and now for my local college in their continuing education program.
6.      Join online groups, social sites and communities. Just don’t over extend yourself. Limit it to a few groups so you still have time to write.
7.      Offer products, services or information related to your niche or readership. I do this in a verity of ways from my blog talk radio shows to the product and services I offer at Stories for Children Publishing and on my personal website.
8.      Get to know writers in your local area and support them by buying their books and attending their reading/signings. You want to be included on mailing lists and invited to literary events and parties. The contacts you make at these events will be invaluable.
9.      Do public readings. You do not need to be published to do this. As a children’s writer you can do a PJ story time at a local bookstore and just share your favorite children’s books. Then ask the kids if they would like to hear a story you wrote. Your local library will often know who organizes them. Contact the organizer and ask how you can be included.
10.  Start a blog or website about writing. As you can see, I already do this with my blog here, The Writing Mama. If you are unpublished, post some of your work on the Internet and give readers an opportunity to provide feedback. If you're already published, showcase your books and any services you provide.
11.  If you have a blog or website, make sure to create new content on a regular basis. I’ll be honest, I’m not good about this on my website, and I am trying to be better and plan to start offering tips for parents and children.
12.  Advertise on other websites. I know this can be costly, but believe it or not, a lot of sites will do a link exchange. I do this a lot with Stories for Children Publishing and its many divisions. It works!
13.  Offer a newsletter. I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is. I started offering SFC Newsletter for Writers about a year after I started writing. I have since won Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites/Newsletters for Writers in 2009 and my list of subscribers keeps growing. I have made many important contacts that have helped grow my writing and business platforms.
14.  Here’s an easy tip and one anyone can do. Hand out business card to everyone you meet. I’m not always great about this one, but it is a great way to spread the word about being a writer and your books (if you have them). You can get nice business cards for just pennies. Shop around online and locally for the best deal.
15.  Create videos or have some create it for you. I’ve already covered this topic once in my article, Why Do You Need a Book Trailer. But you can use trailers for all kinds of other things as well. If you’re not sure how to make a video, hire someone to help you. There are many companies out there like mine.
16.  If you have a published book or are working one, write a reader’s guide. This is something I’m just starting to do with my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw. I’m currently working on babysitting guide in eBook format to go with my picture book.
17.  This is optional. Once you have a book to sell, hire a publicist. I have looked into doing this and it’s costly, but if you can afford it…do it! I plan to with my next set of books.

Remember building your author platform doesn’t happen overnight. It slowly builds over time. Grab promotional opportunities whenever you can. If you are lucky enough and you make a splash with the right connections, pay it forward to those who helped you reach that point. It takes all of us supporting, sharing and cheering to make success happen.

See you in the World of Ink.

8 comments:

  1. This post is filled with great information. It would be wise to mark it or print it off. The tasks are ongoing and cannot be done in a day. Building a platform takes time but it is worth the effort because it helps establish the trust between you and your reader.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Terri
    http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com
    www.terriforehand.com

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  2. Virginia, these are excellent tips. Every writers needs to keep working on visibility. I actually tried to get a workshop at my local library going, but was told they no longer do that sort of thing, not at the smaller branches anyway.

    Heading off to Manhattan may be an option down the road.

    Thanks for sharing these tips; I'll be linking to them in my July newsletter.

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

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  3. This post is so helpful I plan to download and save it.

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  4. I'm really glad Janet, Karen and Terri you've enjoyed my post today. I'm going to try and share more posts like this once a week with you.

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  5. I've been publishing for many years, and the scene has changed big time--in many ways for the better. It's easier to be in touch with readers and other writers than ever before--I love the e-neighborhood!
    Tricia
    www.triciaspringstubb.com

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  6. All the points are descriptive and informational. I loved the whole post. It will surely help me a lot. Thanks for the same.

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