Updated November 3, 2021
If you have written a book, thought of writing a book, went to a writing conference, or even just read some post on Facebook or Twitter from other authors, I bet you have heard “You need an author platform….”
And if you were like me, you had not a damn clue what they were talking about. And depending on who you ask, you may get different answers.
An author platform, in its purest form, is a way for you to reach people who buy books. Specifically, buy your books.
Platforms develop and cultivate relationships with your desired readers and fans.
If you don’t have a book, but plan to write one and either look for a publisher or publish it yourself, you want to start on your platform now, so it will be up and running when you publish your book.
How do you even start a platform and what should your platform represent, what should you include, or offer? Well, anything you want.
Let’s use a simple example.
Say you dabble in photography. Maybe you aren’t a professional, but you have a pretty good eye. You share a lot of your photos and sometimes sell them. You decide you are going to write romance novels. All you have right now is a Facebook profile that all your family and friends are on.
One idea: Create a Facebook page that highlights your photography. Mixed in with your photos, you give tidbits about the book you are writing. Post things about your writing experience. Maybe small excerpts from your book, or perhaps a regular post about your weekly writing time, including your struggles, or the things that you may have learned that week about being an author.
Next start posting ROMANTIC pictures. Maybe the ten best spots in your city for a romantic dinner. You can do all this on Facebook, or if you want to start a website, just start small. Branch out from there. I would suggest an Instagram account. Since you have a lot of photos to use, this would be an ideal outlet for you to share quick pictures of romantic things. (Of course now there is TikTok which has BookTok and there are other new social media platforms that may work for you.)
You will slowly start sharing more and more of your writings as you create them, but in the meantime, you are showcasing your kick ass photography and letting people know you are writing a romance novel. They are following your struggles, your joys, and even your mishaps. They are getting to know you, and when your book is finished and published, you will have a built-in network of fans who will support you because they love your photography and they have developed a relationship with you, the author.
Second idea: Start your own photography blog, where you blog about all things photography. On that blog, you can share your writings as well. Your posts regarding your book can be more in depth on your blog.
Keep in mind, whatever you start, be it a blog, a website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you will need to put in the time to keep it up. You should post weekly, bi-weekly at the least, for a blog. More for other social media outlets.
Because of that, do not start off using every social media platform. Pick the ones that you are really good at and cultivate those. Get a good solid feel for precisely what you want your author platform to represent, then build out.
A word of caution. Whatever you put out there will be associated with you and your platform. Choose your content carefully. Do not use photos from the web. Use those photos provided by your web hosting platform when constructing your blog or use your own photos. There are a lot of people suing for use of their pictures without permission. And if you 'borrowed' a photo from the web, you could be in some serious legal trouble.
Also, each social media outlet works differently. You may need to do some trial and error to see what works best for you. A photographer may gravitate towards Facebook, Instagram, and probably Twitter. Where a mental health worker who writes self-help books may gravitate towards LinkedIn, Medium, and Twitter.
The key to a successful author platform is finding that balance of what you like doing, sharing it, and also offering your followers things that will interest and help them.
Don’t do a blog because everyone says you should. Blogs are a lot of work. A platform can be built on any social media outlet.
My platform is continuously changing and morphing as I find that niche that works best. It took several years to get what I have. It has morphed several times over those year. Don’t be afraid to do that. Your ability and needs will change, and that is why picking the right base for your platform is key to setting up your success.