Nobody is forcing you to create your author platform, right? So, fine, don’t do it. Write your books, burn some bridges, and lament your lack of sales. Or don’t. Write for the sake of writing and carry on.
Here’s my question to you: what IS an author platform to you? Is it spamming ‘buy my book’ links constantly? Is it all about your book, your blog, your promotions?
What I’ve found, in working with authors over the past five or so years, is that many authors, especially those new to marketing their work, don’t understand what marketing their work actually means. Because we don’t market our work. Not really. We market ourselves. Brand the author, not the book.
What many authors think their author platform should be, and what it actually is, is where I find an enormous disconnect.
WHAT IS AN AUTHOR PLATFORM?
I really like Jane Friedman’s definition because it has four key components of what a platform is and also what it’s not. What a platform contains:
- Proven Reach
- Target Audience
What it’s not:
- It is not about self-promotion.
- It is not about hard selling.
- It is not about annoying people.
- It is not about being an extrovert.
Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find online or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best.
HAVE A PLAN
Burnout. That’s the biggest issue I see with authors. Running around to Twitter, then, oops, over to Facebook, than wait, catch that Google+ comment (and geez, do they have to make it so hard to figure out?), and then what the hell is Pinterest anyway? Meet the next deadline. Write the next blog…How is one author supposed to manage all that stuff and still get any writing done? Throw in blogging and book promotions and blog tours and writing the next book…. not to mention kids and house and spouse and cat. Showering, oh yea. Forget sleep!
You can’t. It’s just not possible.
So, don’t do it all. Back the truck up and refocus. Create a plan. What are your goals (besides selling a load of books)? How many books do you want to realistically sell your first week, month, quarter, year? Great. Now let’s discuss how you plan to do that. I don’t care if you write it on a napkin, just get it down. What is your budget? What are your keywords, demographic, target audience? Do the who what when where and why.
Tip: find your readers. Most authors make the mistake of only connecting with other writers, who are not your demographic. Sure, writers are typically avid readers, but you need to branch out and find readers, true readers. And book bloggers. And reviewers.
USE YOUR TOOLS
There are a multitude of social media management tools out there. I love Hootsuite, some prefer Buffer. Regardless, you are smart. You can figure out how to add in your accounts and schedule in content (articles, blog posts, promotions, cat videos). If you can’t, hire someone who can. Point is, get organized.
- I’m not an advocate of full automation, but some is fine. How else are you going to sleep or be a parent or get your writing done? Consistency is key to creating a presence on social media. You don’t have to be on 24/7, you can’t possible be on that much, but it’s a good idea to share interesting content that’s relevant to your interests, follow and connect with people who share those interests, ask questions, be interesting on a consistent basis, and these tools help you to do that.
- Avoid the ‘buy my book!’ link dump the second someone follows or friends you. It’s annoying, spammy, and sells nothing but that you are annoying and spammy. Add your links to your bios. People know how to read. Have all your links and social media icons easy to find on your website. Make your work easy to find and purchase.
- Don’t be that guy/girl who self-promotes your latest fantasy sci-fi erotica release on a Facebook thread about cat videos. You know who you are.
- Don’t PM/DM us with your links, either. Because, really?
CHANGE YOUR PARADIGM
Social media and your author platform are not about selling. Read that again. Nope, so not. It’s about increasing your visibility and building relationships.
Readers buy from people they like and know. ‘Make a friend, make a sale,’ as the old sales adage goes. Everything you do with regard to your platform (social media, blogging, blog tours, newsletters, talking to people) is all about increasing that visibility and connecting with your end-user, in this case, your reader (or book blogger, or reviewer).
If you are expecting massive sales from a blog tour, or a billion reviews, your expectations are sadly way off. If you think that your ‘Buy my book!’ tweets will results in a flurry of sales, think again.
I love this article about CDM (basically, using free social media to creative raving fans). Think about it:
“We live in a time where ANYONE (anyone!) can build a trusted network of THOUSANDS and communicate at a scale that was previously unknown and heretofore impossible. And do it at zero marginal cost. CDM combines the most cost-effective customer acquisition and retention strategy with the immense reach and power of the individual.”
Our platforms allow us to identify, cultivate (via building relationships) and activate those raving fans.
Bottom line: sure, we all have books to sell and we all have promotions and sales goals and money to make. Save your tweets and posts for those times when you have a release or a promotion. That’s when you send out a newsletter. Call on your street team or group of fans to help out so the message doesn’t all come from you. If you’ve spent time and effort building up those relationships, recognizing and tapping your raving fans, those folks will be thrilled to be a voice for you and your work.
Social media has enormous power. Add social media to word of mouth and you have a huge untapped potential of fans waiting to help you!
That’s why you build a platform and relationships.