Marketing Manager Mark Redmayne Shares Five Tips to Building Your Author Platform
Next to writing your book, marketing your book is the most crucial piece to its success. A good publisher will have resources and contacts to help get your book in front of as much media as possible. However, you can lend a big hand by making sure that you and your brand are working to promote you simultaneously as your publisher works to promote your book.
The aim of an author platform is to boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience, and even the general public, to discover and connect with you, your brand, and your book.
Consider why you and your book are unique. What unique experience do you bring to the table? Demonstrate to your followers/readers that you are the expert, and they will be motivated to check out your forthcoming book.
Tip #1: Compile a List of Contacts
Everyone you know is a contact. The more people you know, the more influence you have, especially if you know people in high places. Those who are experts in your field or have celebrity status can be approached for endorsements/blurbs which can run on the front or back cover (or even an interior praise page) and can also be posted on your Amazon book page and your website. Be sure to make connections with contacts in your field so that you begin to build relationships. By retweeting, reposting, or celebrating their news, especially if it pertains to your upcoming book, you’ll increase the odds that they will reciprocate. This rapport will help spread the word in the months leading up to pub date.
- Use Google to search for blogs, forums, and communities where your audience may be active, e.g., blogs within your niche, websites of authors with similar books, etc.
- Look for books similar to yours and take note of the kind of people reading them because they might be your target readers also.
- Do research on social media for groups interested in books similar to yours.
Build a list of media contacts from previous books or media appearances. As and when media rolls in (even if it’s prior to pub date) make sure to post on your social channels. It may feel weird to self-promote but it is key to spread the word, and media attention adds authority and credibility to the project. The media list you compile will come in useful later when your publisher begins its media outreach.
Tip # 2: Create a Social Media Strategy
Rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms, focus consistently on platforms that provide the most value to you and your work. The best social media channels for you are contingent on what your brand and book is. If your book is a non-fiction title (business, memoir, etc.) it’s best to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter, since they don’t depend heavily on visuals but connections with like-minded people in your field. If illustrated (art, cookbook) build your profile on Instagram, Twitter, and possibly Facebook with eye-catching images which will help draw in followers. The key to social media is posting regularly and engaging visitors. You want shares, because shares lead to more follows. It will take some time to build your followers. Building an author platform is a marathon, not a sprint.
Tip #3: Build a Website
Having a website is vital, and you need to look like a pro. It is your calling card, not just for the book but for your brand. For many writers the author website is a thing of pride and beauty. It’s an active pool of new material, a place of engagement and connection, an extension of their book, even an invitation into their writing life. People checking your site are booksellers, librarians, reviewers, media, etc. No better place to capture them than on your homepage. Out of all the sites on the Web a reader could go, if they’ve found their way to yours, chances are good they are interested in hearing from you.
- Build on a platform that optimizes content for search and allows you to easily and quickly update.
- Update regularly and integrate with your social profiles.
- Drive all visitors to sign up for an email newsletter (and use this for excerpts, giveaways, behind-the-scenes content, and more).
- Make sure your contact information is on every page on your site.
- Include testimonials about you and your book. If you don’t have any, source some from friends, family, and “qualified” strangers.
- Make a compelling “About” page. People want to know about the person behind the book. Give them details about who you are, what you do personally and professionally, and why you wrote the book.
- Share pieces of your writing with the public by blogging. This compels you to write on a regular basis and this will attract more people to your site. If you produce quality content, blogging can position you as an authority and expert on your subject, which increases your credibility. Blogging also makes it possible for you to have a two-way conversation with your readers, because they can respond by commenting.
- Let your readers know where you are presenting or speaking with an events calendar.
Tip #4: Write Guest Posts and Op-eds
A guest post is a blog post or an article that you write and publish on another person’s site or in the case of an Op-ed, this will typically be featured in a newspaper or magazine (and their associated sites). This can help introduce your brand to a new group of people, direct more traffic to your website, attract new people to your email list, boost the SEO of your website so it shows up in search engine results, and develop relationships with other bloggers, authors, and influencers.
Research and confirm that the platform you’re interested in accepts guest posts, allows an author bio with links back to your site, and has an audience that matches the type of audience you want to attract. Pitch an original post title, one that has not appeared on their site or anywhere else. Make sure to respond to comments once your post is published.
Tip #5: Sign Up for Events
Finally, look for ways to engage with your community by signing up as a guest speaker at speaking engagements, on podcasts, and at conferences. The pandemic has made this easier since you’re now able to participate regardless of geography. Sign up for other events which relate to your brand, even if you’re speaking at them, since they offer excellent networking opportunities. Conferences are great places to connect with authors who are writing in your space. Today’s virtual conferences usually offer a Facebook group for connection and discussion. Take advantage of these forums and gather a community of like-minded authors in your genre.
In conclusion, a personal brand that is robust before launch will help generate book sales, just as publishing a book helps a personal brand.