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.
- Speaking engagements
- Library Book Talks
- Arts Festivals