One of the most time consuming and daunting tasks for writers is to get noticed. If you've checked out Amazon and the number of books lately,you'll see what I mean.A veritable bottomless pit of books is now available for your Kindle. Before you launch a book or really spend money on marketing, a platform that connects with readers is crucial. There are many ways to build your platform and there are lots of articles about this very topic, but I'll boil it down to a simple list and throw in some links that will help you get started or improve your existing platform.
For the shy and reclusive writer, the platform thing is painful. It's even uncomfortable for extroverts. We put ourselves out in the public arena and that's a little scary. We're vulnerable and now we've dipped our toe into the spotlight---what are we thinking? But we need to engage readers and it's best to start early--before the book is launched. The good news is that most of the tools we need to start are free and accessible through the Internet.
1. Start a blog. Yes, there are millions of bloggers out there, but a blog is an excellent way to connect with readers. It's also an excellent way to hone your writing skills and become more disciplined. Blogger and Word Press are the big guns in blogging and you can create a blog for free. If you're not sure what you could ever write about on a weekly basis, check out author blogs and get a feel for what others are doing. New content is important, so plan to have a weekly post with something fresh for readers.
2. Build your website. I am a DIY sort of person and have found Weebly to be exceedingly user-friendly for someone who doesn't know HTML code. There are other places such as Wix that offer free websites, so shop around before hiring a web designer to do the work. There are lots of bad author websites--some because they're never updated and others are just bad. Take a look at a variety of author websites and find those that make you want to stay a while. What makes them enjoyable or easy to navigate? Incorporate those features into your own. Learning to use Weebly templates gives you control and immediate access to change things on the fly. I do like control, so there you have it.
3. Social Media. Oh, there are so many ways to connect to millions of people on Twitter, Face Book, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., etc. While there are some who say you must be everywhere and posting constantly, I say no. Pick two or three that you actually enjoy, so you'll want to post writing updates, and other news to share with the public. It takes time to build an audience on any social media unless you're already a celebrity. Peruse social media, look at privacy and security settings, and get comfortable with how they work. Using social media is a constant process and there's something new to learn all the time. You also have to guard your writing time and social media can take over your day.
4. Join a writers group. Writers need support. Who else understands the world we live in? Sisters in Crime has been an excellent organization for me. I've met lots of other mystery authors who have generously given advice and help in building my own platform and marketing. I also belong to a couple of other groups where we share writing adventures, business advice, and generally shoot the breeze. It's easy to become discouraged and a little lost in this career path. Fellow writers can sure help.
5. A platform is not about selling. What??? This one is tough. Of course we want to sell books, but endless self-promotion is tedious. Offer helpful content, review someone else's book your audience might enjoy. Interview another author on your blog or do a podcast, share some writing tips....connect, connect, connect. The hard sell gets old quickly and you don't want to be labeled as a used car salesman...umm...annoying author. Be fun, approachable, and uniquely yourself.
6. Build an email list for your newsletter. This is really important once you have a book out there. People who sign up for your email newsletter are fans and you'll want to let them know when a new title is coming out, when you're doing a book signing, and when you're having a special sale. You can sponsor giveaways, special discounts, and more. This truly builds your reader base, so be sure to include a sign up opportunity on your website at the very least. These are people you want with you for the long haul, so treat them well.
The writer's platform is a long term commitment, not built in a day or two, but it can be quickly dismantled if not managed well. Plan well, build strong, and stay committed.
What is a Writer's Platform?
With over 30 years in administration as a manager, paralegal, and administrative professional, my experience runs the gamut from finances, policy, contracts, and human resources. My goal is to help writers navigate the business side of writing with understandable and practical advice.