Ask The Writer: How To Build Your Author Platform

February 22, 2016
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ASK THE WRITER: How to build your author platformAs part of my Ask The Writer series, I put a callout on Facebook for questions about building your author platform. I answer all of these (and more! Much more!) in my new course for the Australian Writers’ Centre (Build Your Author Platform: How To Boost Your Brand and Grow Your Fan Base) but here are the top 5 most burning questions, as asked by my Facebook community. You’ll note I’ve bundled a few together here…

What’s the purpose of the author platform? To just showcase my books or to get to know people or something else? – Rebecca

Your author platform is about building your profile and creating a brand for yourself. It’s about creating a solid community, full of people who are interested in you, your work and what you have to say. It gives you an opportunity to showcase your books, yes, but it’s also about creating other opportunities for yourself as a writer AND sharing the work of others. It’s about building a place for yourself within the writing and publishing world.

As an unpublished writer, how do I build an author platform without feeling like a fraud? – Vanessa

I get it. I know the feeling well. When I started my blog ‘Life In A Pink Fibro’ more than six years ago, I was a freelance writer, with a couple of non-fiction books to my name. What I really wanted to be, however, was an author of fiction – but all I had in that area was a couple of unpublished manuscripts. I think the key to busting through that ‘fraud’ feeling is to be honest. Find people in the same boat as you on Twitter and Facebook and make friends. Share each others’ blog posts.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of creating a community around yourself, and the way to do that is to share things that interest you, write posts that interest you (and others) and BE interested in what other people are doing.

Never underestimate the importance of ‘social’ in social media and never forget that you’re making connections every single day. It all adds up over time.

How to draw more subscribers to your blog. – Josh

There is no doubt that it is very noisy out there in blog land these days. But the old methods of building your blog remain. Use social media to promote your posts. Share other people’s posts. Comment on other blogs. Make connections with others on social media – and by that I mean actually talk to people. I love people who talk to me on Twitter and Facebook and I know that other bloggers and authors do too.

Actively follow new people on Twitter – some experts suggest at least 10 a day, and if you’re building your following, that’s probably about right. Use key word searches to find people who might be interesting – and interested in what you’re doing, too. (Tip: DON’T just follow other writers or your world will be very small…)

Also, back to basics: make sure your blog address is prominent on your social media pages (Twitter and Facebook). I went looking for yours on Facebook, Josh, and it wasn’t immediately obvious. Also, promote your posts via social media – again Josh (sorry to single you out but you did ask!), I scrolled your Twitter and Facebook pages today and no blog post links jumped out at me. Use a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to help keep older posts in circulation, particularly if they’re relevant to a book launch or similar.

Remember, you can post the same link on Twitter, in particular, three or four times in one day because people are dipping in and out. Don’t be shy.

Will people get sick of me if I post on Facebook and Twitter every day? – Karen

How to connect with more readers and other writers through your author FB page? – Barb

I’m not very good at being friendly on Twitter. Any tips? – Tegan

How to use Twitter effectively. – Dale

See my answer above. I’ve bundled these together because the answers come down to three basic rules.

1. Be yourself. Whether you’re on Twitter or Facebook, be yourself – the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be ‘an author’. Just be you.

2. Post often. People will not get sick of you if you post every day. In fact, most of your followers won’t see anything you post if you only post once a day on either. Facebook’s algorithm is a weird and wonderful thing, but the key here is post a few different kinds of posts at least once or twice a day. By that I mean, text only, a blog link (yours or others), photo, question.. mix it up. Same with Twitter.

3. Talk to people. If someone you follow puts out an interesting tweet or post, then respond or RT or share or comment or like or .. something. Twitter and Facebook reward engagement, so engage!

How an author platform equates to book sales – Eleanor

Well, now, Eleanor, this is the big question, isn’t it? And the truth is, there’s no hard data that says if you do X then you’ll sell Y number of books. All I can say is that the onus of book promotion is falling more and more on authors these days, and that setting up a platform well in advance puts you in a much better position as far as that is concerned. The fact is that word of mouth is the best way to sell books – and an author platform offers you the opportunity to create amplified word of mouth.

I’ve seen for myself the incredible reaction that a solid community can have when a book is launched – and The Mapmaker Chronicles series is selling very well. I’ve also been lucky enough to have had terrific backing from Hachette Australia, my publisher. Would the books have sold as well without the work I’ve put into my author platform? Who knows? All I know is that I’m glad I didn’t leave it to chance.

[LIKE THIS? CHECK OUT MY STEP-BY-STEP COURSE TO BUILDING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM]

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20 Comments

  • Lisa schofield

    As always Al, so generous with your gems of wisdom. Thank you x

  • Eleanor

    Great post and thank you for tackling the big question 🙂 Looking forward to starting the Build your Author Platform course, which I have signed up for!!!

  • Bob Mueller

    “Be yourself” is great advice. I get the “fraud” feeling, and I’ve got a book out!

    I think a lot of people get freaked out over the idea of blogging because they don’t think they know enough to write “instructional” posts, or anything that anyone would want to read. I’m fond of quoting Rachel Thompson’s advice here: write what scares you, and pick a couple or three topics that really get you going. It doesn’t have to be something related to your books, although it can’t hurt. I’ve got three main subject areas, but even those three give me a lot of stuff to write about.

    Great post!

    • Allison Tait

      Totally agree Bob! Choosing a few topics that really get you going are the best way to stay motivated with blogging. That Rachel Thompson is very clever!

  • Rebecca Bowyer

    Fabulous! Sounds like I’m heading in the right direction for the author platform. Now I just need to, um, finish a book…

  • Karen

    Thanks so much, Allison. I really appreciate your ‘ask the writer’ posts. I’m a week into your course – so much content – it’s so meaty! I like all the contributions from authors, your anecdotes about your personal experience and the homework. Looking forward to diving into the next section.

  • josh langley

    Thanks for the great feedback. (I don’t mind been made an example of if it means I get to improve my craft / business and other’s can benefit as well :))

    Often I get unstuck trying to manage my two different book brands which often has two different target demos. http://www.frogandthewell.com has the whimsy cartoons and positive picture books (and now kids book) and http://www.joshlangley.com.au has the non fiction Bill Brysonesque afterlife adventure books plus discussions on creativity, writing etc.
    And then in the middle you have me just wanting to be as real as myself as possible…
    The unifying banner that unites all the brands is ‘inspiration’ however it’s a different type of inspiration for different types of people.
    Which means I’ve always had a hell of a time coming up with my own personal bio and by line!
    I love all aspects of the writing and publishing lifestyle, but often it does my head in! I’m a radio copywriter trade and publishing is such a different ball game.

  • Helen K

    I think this is something I need to sign up to, Allison! Looks good X

  • Emily

    This is SOOOO helpful. Thanks, Allison.

  • Cheryl

    So glad I’m doing your AWC course. I needed the reminder of how important all this is. What I struggle with is am I worthy of this as well as feeling like a stalker. I think I’m realising, FINALLY, tasks like these are a must.

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    Hi Al. Thanks so much for that post. I’ve spent so much energy on promoting my books that I had forgotten to promote myself. This is the year for Leanne. Your post came to me just in time!

  • Amy

    Hi Allison, just wondering if the course would be helpful for people like myself, looking to get into the world of freelance writing as opposed to novel-writing? I’ve registered a domain name but now unsure what to do with it!

  • Maria Parenti-Baldey

    Thank you for your generous tip sharing. It’s the same old adage: ‘how much work you put into something is how much you will get back’.

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