Until a year ago I’d never heard this term before. What the heck is an author platform? And more importantly, why was I being told I needed one if I wanted to be a successful author?
In the barest sense of the word, a platform is something you stand up high on – like a stage – to be heard by people surrounding you. An author platform, therefore, is how you get heard. Makes sense. In the not too distant past, editors at publishing houses and the houses themselves promoted your book. They did the advertising, arranged author book signings and tours, morning chat show visits to let the world know you had a new work out and arranged for you to be interviewed by trade and popular magazines. Not any more. The houses themselves now run very low budgets for all these things so it is basically up to the author to sell their book to the public, unless you hire a publicist, which can be costly. And let’s face it, you want more than just your family and friends to read your book. You want to reach a wide audience and build a fan base so that when your next book comes out, you’ve already got willing readers who will put down the dollars to buy your work.
And how do you do that? How do you generate the buzz needed to inform people about your book? How do you sell that book? How do you reach the multitudes of readers you want to reach? By having An Author Platform.
In a really good article by Ali Luke “Why You Need an Author Platform – And how to Get one, she outlines three key ingredients in how to accomplish this from your laptop:
- build a website
- get a really strong and involved email list
- use social media to the fullest
By doing just these three cyberworld things you can potentially reach more people than by attending any number of author signings or speaking engagements. A quick internet search drummed up over 100 articles on how to use social media to build your platform and all of them say the basic three things that Luke does.
So, if you’re a media virgin, get going. If you dabble a little on Twitter or use Facebook to catch up with friends, go deeper and use it for announcements. There is this saying I heard a few weeks ago: “You have to realize if you are talking to one person on facebook, you are really talking to hundreds.” Unless you have unbelievably rigorous security settings, this statement is true. Pinterest, LinkedIn, any number of sites will get you coverage. And a website is an absolute must these days.
In today’s world we live and exist on our computers, laptops, smart phones and notebook devices. We do business on them, we keep in touch through them. Why not make that work for you by helping you build that much needed and wanted fan base.