How to Build Your Author Platform in a Digital World
In today's digital age, having a discoverable presence online is more important than ever, especially for authors.
Remember, it's not up to your publisher or agent to build your author platform; that's your job. Your online presence can help you on many fronts as you seek to identify your book's audience, engage existing readers, reach new readers, and mobilize your super fans. One of the first things you need to know about building and maintaining your author platform is how to connect with readers.
Create a Plan to Connect with Readers
- Publish books. You won't need to connect with readers if you haven't finished writing your book! While it's crucial to start building connections early on, it's easy to get bogged down with building your platform and figuring out how to promote your book -- especially if you've encountered writer's block or are procrastinating on finishing that last chapter.
- Create additional content. Write a blog, start a newsletter, or start a podcast. Consider writing a tease for your book or creating a video about your book that readers can see on your author website, YouTube, or elsewhere.
- Attend and/or speak at events. Writing and publishing conferences are perfect for author networking. Offer to speak at a writing conference or another event that ties into your book. For example, if your forthcoming mystery novel takes place in a unique geographic location, consider doing a reading in that area. Some authors even conduct tours in the city where their book takes place. Building author connections doesn't have to be boring!
- Partner with peers and influencers. Building author connections will also help you connect with readers. Attend other author readings and lectures, be present on social media sites that aren't your own, offer to guest blog for another writer, host an industry professional on your podcast, or consent to an interview on someone else's podcast.
- Invest in your readership. Rather than setting yourself up on every available social media site, find meaningful ways to reach the target audience for books that you publish. Learning exactly who your target book audience is will help you promote your book.
Find Your Book's Audience
If you don't know how to determine "target audience" for a book, connect with authors who write in your genre and learn who is reading their books. You can develop a persona of your target audience by using data analytics and other social media tools. And of course, utilize free resources like Aerio's blog, which offers more specific information.
Build a Digital Author Platform
- Create an author websitethat looks appealing and contains valuable content. If you don't have the skills, time, wherewithal, or desire to design an attractive website, get help. Let a tech-savvy professional focus on building your website while you focus on what you do best - writing.
- Create a social media presence based on your author brand. It's not enough to just hang a digital shingle out there. You need to visit your social media sites often and maintain them with quality writing. You may want to limit yourself to a few sites so your content doesn't get repetitious or watered down.
- Consider ebooks and audiobooks. Your existence in the digital world will expand by having your content available in as many formats as possible. Because there are far fewer audiobooks than traditionally published books, you'll have less competition there.
- Focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Here's where you delve into keywords and metadata to make yourself easy to find online. Keyword trends can change in a heartbeat, so be diligent about checking them and changing yours up as you engage in author promotion and come up with book promotion ideas.
- Network, network, network - early and often! When you attend author conventions and other events, don't be shy. Introduce yourself, ask questions, be friendly, and always offer something of value. Look for ways to stay connected by following social accounts or joining a mailing list.
- Brainstorm. Consider anything that will get you online to be found! Well, maybe almost anything.
How you build your author brand and platform will depend on your particular strengths, your unique qualities, the story you have to tell, and your target audience. Think of it as a creative exercise that allows you to effectively market your work, deliver the goods by maintaining a regular online presence and responding to your audience - and watch your author platform grow!