There’s much more to launching a book than just writing it.
Grab this free ebook with tips on building your author platform then keep reading!
In today’s DIY multimedia world, authors are expected to be online personalities and savvy marketers. The truth is that, while some publishers provide a degree of marketing and publicity, it’s largely the domain of the author to promote their work and build a fanbase. This means that publishers are more likely to give coveted book contracts to writers with a proven track record of growing and engaging an audience.
Watch this quick video on additional ways to build your author platform:
When evaluating new authors, publishers look for several criteria in addition to writing talent and book ideas, including:
- Size of email list
- Number of social media followers
- Influencer affiliations
- Active online presence
- Strong, consistent message
Most of my clients come to me full of ideas but without a clue about how to get themselves out there. But I learned that a few strategic actions could make a big difference in growing a writer’s brand.
Here are my best tips for growing your author platform online:
Create A Unique Brand Voice
You already have a voice as a writer. The next step is growing your voice as an online personality. There is no “right way” to brand yourself, as long as it’s unique and authentic. The first thing to consider is how you position yourself with a tagline or main message. What makes you different from others in your field? What single sentence cuts to the heart of your message? Keep it simple and memorable. Consider using a unique handle for your URL and social accounts.
Your brand voice includes a visual presentation. Choose a distinct color palette, typography and logo. Have a professional headshot taken and use the same photo consistently across all touch points. Make it easy for your fans to recognize your brand from a mile away.
Launch Your Digital Home Base
Launching a website is the first step to building an online presence. It’s also the step that seems most daunting to beginners. Your website does not need to be fancy or feature-rich. The purpose of your website should be to have a digital home base, provide visitors with a way to contact you, and share long-form content with your audience. It is critical to optimize your site with best SEO practices (for example, including H1 keywords and article titles that include your name, industry, and main message) so people searching Google are more likely to find you.Choose Your MIM (Most Important Metric)
It’s important to know what action you want your audience to take and gear your efforts toward that conversion. Having a large email list is the metric that publishers value most. Email lists are weighed heavier than social media followers because email is a more stable communication platform. Having an email newsletter creates a deeper relationship with your audience and is less likely to be ignored than social posts. Platforms such as Mailchimp make it easy to build and manage an email list.
Once you choose your MIM, sprinkle your website and social media accounts with calls-to-action toward this conversion. For example, install plugins on your website that allow your fans to subscribe to your email list or like your Facebook page. Provide incentives (such as a sample chapter) for signing up.
Gathering emails is not the only acceptable MIM. If your audience is more social, you might build an Instagram or YouTube following instead. Use whichever metric works best for your brand.
Get Serious About Social
Are you the type of person who comments on news and current events? Try doing so from the perspective of your personal brand. Is your book full of good quotes? Design quote posts and share them. Some authors thrive on camera and share video content.
Think of your audience as an extended friend group. It doesn’t matter what you share as long as it’s authentic to your brand and you post with enthusiasm and consistency.
Create A Content Funnel
It’s important to create content for everyone, from newcomers to superfans. A content funnel helps deepen relationships and push your fans toward conversions (such as newsletter sign up or ebook purchase). Social content is at the top of the funnel. It’s free, fast and available to everyone. Blog posts are one level deeper because they require people to visit your website. Toward the bottom of the funnel is “premium” content – such as e-books, video series, or workshops — that is gated behind a paywall or email submission form.
The more content you provide for free, the more fans will become familiar with your work and the more likely they will be to buy your books.
Build Relationships And Links
How can you drive traffic to your website and social channels when you have relatively few fans? One of the best tactics is reaching out to mid-sized online outlets in your field and pitching articles. There are plenty of websites without writing staffs who happily accept content from emerging writers. Add a bio to your article that includes links to your website and social accounts.
It also helps to proactively make “professional friendships” with influencers in your field. Send them emails and social messages, start a mutually-beneficial dialogue and grow your network by establishing relationships.
Show up for your audience, share valuable insights, be authentic, post with consistency, and have fun.