Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Platform Building: Part 2 - Cultivating a Fan Base

The most important aspects of an author's platform is readership and networking.

The following is a list of how to build your platform in order to gain a wide readership (fan base) and a network ( both fan base and sphere of influence), two groups of people that will follow your career and anticipate your work. To a publisher, this is a plus that you have a broad audience waiting for your next release, which translated means potential book sales. The larger your platform, the larger the sales, both nationally and internationally.

Now I realize the following seems like marketing. But when it comes to building a platform, it is really promotion. Marketing is getting your work into the hands of readers. Promotion is building a name.

Ways to Build Your Platform

  • A fantastic website that reflects your genre, that is graphically attractive to fans of the genre. It is more important than most realize that your site is pleasing to the eye. Just as a reader will judge a book by its cover, often times so will a visitor to your site judge it the moment it comes up on their computer screen.
  • Writer's Blog: Think outside the box. What would your readers want to read about on your blog. What would writers want to read? I skip blogs that are more like a daily diary. Your readers may not be interested in what your cat did today, or what your baby did, or the details of a meeting with your child's teacher, or your crazy boss. Instead they want to read about your writing journey and the craft.
  • Additional web pages and social networking sites: There is MySpace, ShoutLife, and others. However, I find that Ning networks work best for me. They have an abundance of singular networks and you can create your own. They are small and easy to manage. You can set up your own pages on Ning sites. I have found sites on Ning geared toward my genre such as Historical Fiction, Writers of Distinctive Fiction, Writers Interrupted, and the network I created for Maryland Fiction Writers.
  • Contributing writer on other blogs and writing related sites
  • Author Interviews: Lots of bloggers are looking for authors to interview. Some put up interviews daily. You can conduct your interviews as well, and use your byline. Ask for a link.
  • Email Newsletter: Keep it simple and be sure people on your list want it. Otherwise they will think it is spam.
  • Conference Attendance: This can be expensive so choose wisely.
  • Invite readers to sign up for your 'readership list'. This can be down in a few different ways.
    1. At book signings have an attractive sign-up sheet on the table. 2. Sign up link from your website. 3. Add to your email signature a sentence about signing up alongside your email address.
  • Ask Other Writers you know to put up a link to your site. Ask bloggers to include your blog. Always reciprocate the kind gesture. The more popular the author the more potential you will have.
  • Influencers: Send out an all mailing to readers and writers requesting 'influencers'. You provide them a free copy of your book with the understanding if they like it, they will pass it on by word of mouth, through their website, or write a review.
  • Business Cards: These can attract people to your website.
Think Locally
  • Speaking engagements
  • Library Book Talks
  • Arts Festivals
I hope this article has helped you, dear writer. If you have any other ideas to add to the list, let me know.


Mark Goodyear said...

The 'readership fan list' is a good idea.

And I LOVE the pictures you're posting. Where are you getting those?

One thing missing here, though. The old fashioned way of developing a fiction fan base is through magazines and genre periodicals.

I'm not sure if there is a historical fiction periodical or not, but I bet literary magazines would be open to it. Lit mags don't exactly develop a platform, but they do help you meet other people in the industry.

Vicki said...

Loved the content here *and* the graphics! Very helpful. I'll be back.



Tonya Root said...

Great, great stuff! Thank you so much for the ideas. I already have ideas brewing in my head for how I'm going to use a couple of them.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I don't think you meant to have the html tags showing? It is very distracting. If it is for cutting and pasting, I didn't see it.

Blessings Dear Friend

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Three cheers! Very good stuff. I'll be referring to this over and over I suspect.



J. M. Hochstetler said...

Very helpful content! Thank you for all these tips. I'll be visiting again.

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

Great tips! Thanks for taking the time to share them!


Sandy said...

Thanks for the tips. You should join the promotional loop that Edie Ramer started.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, these are very helpful. I hope to see more posts like this from you. I'm adding you to my own blog's favorite links.

Linore said...

Hey, girl, how are you? Great post. Since I actually give presentations on this topic, I'll just add to one of your suggestions: the book signing. You mentioned an attractive sign up sheet, but it's important to give people a reason to sign up more powerful than the fact that you're an author. Have a beautiful basket of goodies with a theme such as bath (soaps, shampoo) or stationery, or anything that can sit near you on the table and look very appealing. Then, you let people know that when they sign up for your mailing list they are automatically entered in the drawing for your "prize." Some call this an "ethical bribe," but I think of it as just being practical. Lots of people are just too shy to sign up, even if they want to, so provide a reason for them to make that little extra effort. You can also choose to grant anyone who buys your book a free second entry. Be sure they know the winner will be chosen that same night, and make sure you get phone numbers for that purpose (ask for email AND phone #). It also helps to have a bowl of chocolates or other candy sitting beside you as well, which provides the additional benefit of giving you a good reason to call moms with kids over to your table.
Whew! Didn't mean to write so much.
Keep up the great blog!
Inspirational Romance for "the Jane Austen Soul"

billramsay said...

Rita--I've been busy and just got to your article. It's great! I think, however, you could uesfully expand it, explaining more about the various points. I confess, for example, I don't know how to put a signup link on my website -- but I'm going to look through my references right now to find out how. Good work.

Deborah said...

Another great article!