Building An Author Platform

Written by Chantelle Atkins | January 11, 2016

Building an author platform is something all authors should be concerned with. It is important for both independently and traditionally published authors. In my opinion, it should not even matter if you have not finished your book yet. You can, and should, start building that platform now. But what exactly is an author platform, why should you have one and what are the first steps to take in creating one?

An author platform is essentially your ‘brand’ or what makes you visible as you. This is increasingly created online, but it should include the real world as well. The platform is in fact made up of several things, visibility on social media being high up on the list. This is not all it involves though. There is also all of your experience and expertise, books you have written, potential books or works, on-going projects, contacts, connections, and your personality. Perhaps even more importantly, it involves your ability to market all of these things successfully.

Building an author platform is important to those who are trying to get a traditional book deal, because agents and publishers will look at the existence of this, as well as at the book being proposed. Many publishers that accept direct submissions require you to include information about your author platform in the query letter. It is vital for them to know you are already building a name for yourself. They want to know they can sell you, as well as the book you are writing.

If you already have a significant social media presence and a good understanding of how it all works, and are already making contacts and connections, then you will be much easier for them to work with. In essence, you will be saving them some marketing money, if you have already started the process. Authors with successful blogs and fanbases are going to be more likely to achieve a deal because they have already shown they can sell themselves and their work.

An author platform is perhaps even more vital for the independent or self-published author. Essentially on their own from day one, this author must learn quickly how to market and sell their book and this involves building a reputation. They need to be able to consistently showcase their abilities and talents. This means acting professionally at all times, stepping out of their comfort zone and forcing themselves to network, both online and off. The more content they create through books, blogs, articles, and events, the more their platform begins to grow.

So where do you start? Building an author platform is a slow, steady and ongoing process, so there is no need to panic. It is not achieved overnight, and most of the time you will not even be aware that you are building one. But it is something you should keep in mind, if you are hoping to get a book deal or market your indie project yourself.

Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, so try not to feel overwhelmed at the thought of starting. Don’t forget you have all the basic ingredients already in place. Your personality, your individuality, your unique voice, and your passion. These are integral to the platform, and a great place to start. Remember it is not a race or a competition, but something valuable you will keep building on for years to come. It will never be complete, just like your writing journey itself.

To get started, join at least three social media platforms. Spend some time researching what is out there, and make a list of ones that appeal to you before you start. Get a feel for them, and how they work.

Social media works best when you enjoy it and understand how to utilize it, so if Facebook and Twitter appeal to you, then start there. Pinterest is a growing attraction for authors right now, and is very fun and addictive. Don’t forget Goodreads, Tumblr, LinkedIn, AboutMe among many others.

More importantly, start a blog. Blogging is a slow process. You start with just yourself, and slowly start to gain pace. Follow other blogs that interest you. Comment and share, and most of the time bloggers will return the favor. Link your  blog to as many social media sites as you feel comfortable with. I have mine linked to Facebook and Twitter, so it is automatically shared to those sites when I blog. This is a great way to pick up more followers on all three sites!

I also have Pinterest linked to Twitter, so pins also end up on Facebook too and so on. Have a look around, see what suits you and set up camp. Try not to be overwhelmed by the idea of social media, or blogging. Start slow and steady. Share your work, or your thoughts. Even just sharing the first steps of your writing journey can be a part of the process of growing your following.

Write a bio, add a profile pic, and start posting! Learn from others as you go. What gets reblogged or shared? What kinds of posts or articles are popular or resonate with people? Try sharing extracts of your work and tagging the relevant issues and interests in order to lure in readers. Make connections! Follow people, read their work, share their posts, in short, use social media to interact with people. This is how you begin to network.

Remember, the more you write, the more content you create and share, the more you will be adding to your platform. You will be making friends and connections, learning from others and having fun.

What about in the real world? What can you do there to help build your author platform and get your name out there? Have business cards made up and hand them out whenever you can. Get to know your local book stores and libraries, become a familiar face who has something to share. Volunteer, join events, create your own!

The more people see you in action, and know you as a writer, the more your following will increase. When your work is published, ask the libraries, book stores, and local press if they are interested in hosting or covering the launch. Join writer’s groups, so that you have a group of like-minded people encouraging you every step of the way. If you have qualifications and experience, then let people know, shout about them. Everything you have done in the past has a reflection on what you are capable of now. Remember to do everything with a professional and positive attitude, so that people want to know more about you and your work.

Building an author platform sounds like a daunting challenge, but it really isn’t. The chances are, if you are a writer, you have already started to build one without realizing this. Once you recognize this, and start to keep it in mind, you will become more aware of what you are doing to promote yourself, and as a result will become more effective at it.

Bio: Chantelle Atkins is the author of four novels including The Mess Of Me and recently released This Is Nowhere. She lives in Dorset, England with her husband and four children. Atkins work is often described as gritty and character driven, and she writes within both the adult and young adult genres. Connect with her on Facebook.