So, you’ve written a book. Well, now what? Find an agent? Start submitting to publishers? Your chances of landing an agent or getting a Big Five publishing deal are going to be slim without having your own network or audience to connect with. That’s where an author platform comes into play. What is an author platform? Simply put, an author platform is a network of fans and potential customers you have built to help sell your books.
What are the benefits of an Author Platform?
These days, agents and publishers expect you to be able to market yourself to some degree. On top of making you more appealing, you can use your author platform to your advantage.
Self-publishing darling Hugh Howey built his author platform from the ground up all by himself. It wasn’t until his book Wool started hitting the Best Sellers list that an agent reached out to him. Because he was already networked and making plenty of sales, he was able to choose the best agent available to him and also negotiate keeping his digital book rights for himself. As most of his sales had come from eBook sales, this was a huge win for self-published authors everywhere
Do I need an Author Platform if I’m not self-publishing?
Are you kidding me? YES. Yes, you do. On top of giving you a much higher rate of sales, having a flourishing author platform helps you land those agents or book deals with publishers. They will already be pouring a lot of resources into promoting you, and giving them some idea of how savvy and driven you are to make sales is an ace in the pocket.
Without your publisher stuck sinking more money into promoting your book, you can sometimes use this to negotiate higher percentages for yourself. I know it’s a lot of work, but the results pay for themselves.
How Do I Build an Author Platform?
First thing’s first, you need to create avenues for your readers to find you. Build yourself a quality website. Create your author brand pages on social media. Especially Facebook and Twitter. If you’re tech savvy enough, you can also try Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr, but focus on Facebook and Twitter if you are new to social media. Intimidated? No worries. Just focus on two at a time. What matters is that you’ll actually be updating them regularly and nurturing a following.
Once you have a website built, you need to start working on an email list. Luckily, with customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Mailchimp or ConvertKit, you can start out with a free account until you grow to over 1,000 subscribers. At that point, you’ll have to upgrade to a pro account, but until you grow into your shoes as a full-fledged author, this will do nicely.
Create an email subscriber sign-up form and make sure you put it on your site immediately to start collecting for your email list. You can even use a plugin like Sumo.Me to set up a Welcome Mat, pop-ups, or sliders that ask users to subscribe. You can also set up pop-ups to trigger when someone tries to leave your page. Unless you’re offering coupons or unique content, try to be polite and don’t be too pushy. No one likes to be assaulted with pop-ups.
It won’t happen overnight, but with steady work and persistence, you can build a substantial following for your site, social media profiles, and most importantly, your email list. This will allow you to keep your fans up to date about book releases, sales, and more goodies that keep them coming back and reading more of your works.
- Social Media Presence
- Author Website
- Author Email List
- Total reach
Remember, without user stats on followers, reach, and engagement, these tools are far less effective and don’t help you negotiate for an agent or book deal if you aren’t proficient at marketing yourself. Make sure you keep records of your follower numbers, and most importantly, growth statistics. Even if you only have a few thousand followers, the rate of growth is a strong selling point.