Your Author Platform
Are you a new or aspiring author? Have you seen the phrase “author platform” and felt like you don't have a clue what it means? That's how I felt as my debut novel's release date approached.
Author Platform Defined
Simply put, your platform is your soapbox. It’s how you get the word out you have a new book to your readers and potential readers. Also, it’s a means to establishing an ongoing relationship with your audience and hopefully turn casual readers into super fans.
Nowadays, your platform typically refers to your social media presence and website. Some writers have popular bookish podcasts from long before they were published. Kudos to those people. They have a ready-made platform and audience. But that’s not most of us!
At the very least, you need a presence on social media and a website. An integral part of your website is your blog, which you should plan to write a post for at least weekly. Then, use your social media presence to drive traffic to your blog. Hopefully, people find your posts interesting and informative and poke around your site––maybe joining your newsletter or even buying your book.
I’m a novelist, not a blogger! What do I write?
This can be a tough question to answer, especially for authors who juggle a day job and family life alongside writing and promoting novel-length fiction. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything, and let’s face it, most people who write fiction do so because they love creating works of the imagination with intricate plots, multifaceted characters, and universal themes.
Have no fear. You can write about all the things that drew you to writing. You can even write about your book. I’m not talking about straight-up promoting your book. You can do this, but the rule of thumb is 80% of the time, you shouldn't be trying to sell your audience something. Instead, write about your process or what inspires you or publish an interview with one of your characters. You can even post a short story or an excerpt from a larger piece you're writing. One of the cleverer ideas I’ve seen is the Friday Feast post on romance author Mary Morgan's site. Mary writes Celtic romances, and every Friday, she posts a Scottish-inspired recipe.
You don’t even have to write all your posts. You can sign up with a tour company to become a blog tour host. The tour company, such as Silver Dagger or Random Things Tours, provides the content. All you need to do is post the content to your blog on a specific date and promote it on social media. You can easily host authors who write in the same genre as you do. This is a painless way to connect with other authors and attract new visitors to your site. I try to host a tour stop at least once a month on my blog.
Another approach is to accept guest posts from other authors––just be prepared to do a light edit for spelling mistakes and clunky wording. A great example of a successful guest posting series is The Big Idea hosted by science-fiction author John Scalzi.
Writing book reviews is yet another avenue for generating posts for your blog. You’re an author, so you read all the time, right? Write reviews. You can also discuss or review other media related to your genre. For example, you might have a post discussing the merits of a new TV series versus the book it's based on.
Of course, don’t forget to post updates about the book you're writing. If you have readers pining for your next novel, they'll love seeing updates. Fantasy author Joe Abercrombie regularly posts progress reports.
I’m not going to tell you that you’ll have as much fun crafting blog posts as you will writing a novel or short story. But creating posts doesn't have to be a slog. It can be fun. Brainstorm ideas and write about those that interest you. In all likelihood, the same readers who enjoy your books will find your posts engaging.