What’s An Author Platform Anyway? A Quick Overview

By Rachel Thompson

Authors come to me many times frustrated and confused over this concept of ‘author platform.’ I felt the same way before I learned to market my books, so I’ll break it down here with a brief explanation. In future articles, I’ll discuss each component in much more detail.

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Let’s deconstruct.

DEFINE PLATFORM

When I first started in publishing (back in 2007), this concept of platform confused me. I’d spent fifteen years in pharma sales and marketing, but had never heard this phrase before. Think of it this way: cookies.

Cookies are yummy, gooey, not terribly good for you but still, who can resist, right? The ingredients of the cookie, however, combine to make them great. You can’t have a great cookie without eggs, butter, chocolate (I mean), flour, etc.

Your author platform is made of up various ingredients that combine to create something your readers won’t be able to resist.

COMPONENTS

Your basic components of any author platform include:

  • Social Media: (typically Twitter, a Facebook, Google+ (or G+ page), and one more visual channel (YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram). Many link to each other so it’s easy to say, post on Instagram and share also on Facebook or Twitter. Keep in mind that social media is not free advertising, nor is it the place to spam ‘Buy my book!’ links. It’s about connecting and building relationships.

 

  • Optimized Website: I recommend using WordPress.org (you pay a small fee each month to BlueHost or GoDaddy, for example. You also need to purchase your domain name (i.e., BadRedheadMedia.com or RachelintehOC.com) to take the .wordpress or .blogspot or .tumblr from the end of the URL. Looks more professional and costs very little ($12/year is average). I knew little about optimization (using certain keywords, key phrases, categories, plug-ins) before I met my web designer, Barb Drozdowich. Barb works with authors and knows more than anyone I’ve ever met on website design for authors. And she’s really, really nice.

 

  • Advertising: I’ve found that if you can hire someone to do Google AdWords for you, it’s TOTALLY worth it — either to have them manage for you or learn how to do it all yourself. Click here to see why: Top Nonfiction Books (on Amazon). I do occasionally boost posts on my Facebook page (for a promotion, for example), but find AdWords to be linked to Amazon in some mysterious way that I couldn’t even begin to explain (writer, here). Point is, you do need to advertise somewhere.

 

  • Blogging: Blogging is critical for a few reasons, but the main one — Google (the largest search engine in the world) loves fresh content. If your site is static, your ranking is lower. In addition, if you participate in #MondayBlogs each Monday, you will absolutely see an increase in traffic. It’s also a great way to write regularly, stimulate your mind, and interact with folks in a different format.

 

  • Keywords/Key Phrases: This, above anything, confuses people and could take a book to explain. Think of about 3-5 words or phrases about topics that interest you, that you write about, that you are excited to share information on. For my author account, I write nonfiction (that’s one keyword), about relationships (that’s two), love (three), loss (four), and sexual abuse (five). I also have back-ups: Nutella (what.), family, cooking (or lack thereof), and social media.

(Keywords matter because it’s all about managing expectations. If you’re all over the place, people will be confused as to what topics you’ll be                  sharing or what you write about. This helps you determine content: which news stories to share, pictures, quotes, blog posts, etc., so knowing your keywords helps your focus also.)

  • Graphics: You need your color story to match your keywords and topics you write about. This graphic needs to become your signature, if you will. For example, I always have reds in my books. Here’s a link to my Twitter account so you get an idea of my header and background (again, this is my author account). I use the same graphics on my website, blog, and other social media channels.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

I always recommend that writers start marketing their work anywhere from three to six months prior to release. None of this happens overnight and while it’s not rocket science, it does take time, effort, and some investment on your part. Next week, I’ll go more into detail of each component.

The is a very basic overview, but I hope it helps you create the most perfect recipe you can for your work! Got questions? Ask away below…

 

 

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