All You Need to Know About the Author Platform

By Yuri Burchenya read
02 Sep, 2014

OK, here’s the deal.

Being a good writer is simply not enough these days.

I know, some of you may be disappointed by that, but that’s the reality.

It may have been different 20 years ago, but even then publishers preferred authors who can promote their work.

Today, if you want to sell any copies, you have to have a platform.

Being a good writer is simply not enough

Building this platform means that you’ll have people who know you, like you or consider you an expert, and anticipate the content you create.

This will take you ahead of most of your competitors.

Some say that the best time to start to work on your author platform is at least a year before you publish your book.

The best time to start working on author platform is at least a year before you publish the book

This is not a process that happens overnight. You shouldn’t delay or postpone it for another minute. And it’s best to stay on this path as long as you want to have a readership.

Your audience is out there, just waiting for a writer like you to come along. You have to reach out to them and find those readers.

If you haven’t started building your author platform already, now is the time.

Author platform is not only social media

I know it is tempting to believe that once you have 20,000 twitter followers, you can stop working on building your author platform.

If only 1% of your imaginary followers will buy the book, you’ll have 200 sales from twitter alone. You and I both know that’s not how this works.

You’ll be lucky to make a single sale.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that author platform is about inflating your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or whatever.

As editor Brooke Warner demonstrated in this pie chart, social media should be only a small part of your efforts to create a platform.

What an author platform is made of

What is author platform?

We talked about what author platform is not and what it is made of. But how do you define author platform without discussing how to build it.

Publisher Jane Friedman suggests defining it by looking at what editors and agents are looking for in an author platform.

They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.

Editors and agents are looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.

What activities build author platform?

Having read so far, you probably think that building author platform is overwhelming. And you’re right, it can be even harder than writing your own book.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Start with your blog.

You can treat your blog as your homebase, and all your activities will revolve around your blog. This way it will be easier for you to organise and structure the whole thing.

Treat your blog as a homebase

It’s also a good way to become creative about what you write and how you communicate with your followers.

If you can’t think of people who will visit your blog without a gun to their head and you would really like to avoid publishing to crickets, start with social media instead.

It’s easy to connect with people through these channels, build relationships and position yourself as an expert.

Having established a presence on various social media, your blog and other relevant places online, it’s important to tie them all up together.

The most obvious way how to achieve this is to have similar graphical elements on all your profiles.

For instance, you can create a mascot or draw your main character. Even easier, you can just stick to the same background pattern or simply one color – red or blue.

Have very similar graphical elements on all social media

This way the viewer will have a consistent experience and won’t spend his time thinking if he’s in a right place.

Another thing related to consistency is the way you communicate and what you’re communicating.

Your audience can quickly get confused about what it is that you share and write about.

It’s best to choose 3-5 areas where you want to establish yourself as an expert and stick to that.

Then you can share articles, blog posts, quotes, opinions and information in general about these topics.

Choose only 3-5 areas and work to become an expert in them

I know it’s almost impossible to resist to comment on some of the current world affairs. But for the sake of building a good author platform you’ll have to manage.

Instead of conclusion

Your platform has to be at least as creative as the content that you write. Don’t abuse your platform by promoting your books too aggressive.

Remember, there are no short cuts. If something looks like it’s too easy, it probably is.

I hope by now you have a sound idea of what an author platform is and why you really need to start working on one today.

Do you have some tips on how to build an author platform in half the time? Let me know in the comments section below.

P.S. Is you want to be sure that your followers really want everything that you release, check out this step-by-step guide to building anticipation for your ebook. GIMME!

Yuri is a Content Crafter at Sellfy. He's focused on inbound marketing, copywriting, CRO and growth.