Simply put, your author platform is your audience.
Your audience is composed of your social media networks, your email list, your professional contacts, the folks you know in real life, any groups where you speak or lead, etc.
There are as many ways to build an author platform as there are authors. A strong website can serve as an anchoring base, hosting a blog and promoting and new releases or events. Social media provides a fantastic way to connect with a large audience around specific topics of interest. In-person events such as speaking opportunities or conferences enable you to build visibility in your field and create new connections.
Do you need an author platform?
If you write only for the sheer joy of the experience and are satisfied with any readers luck sends your way, no. You do not need an author platform.
If you hope to build a readership, attract an agent or publisher, or sell books, yes. You need an author platform.
As Jane Friedman wrote, "Editors and agents are attracted to authors who have this thing called 'platform.' What editors and agents typically mean by platform They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience."
While your book may be brilliant, it will be difficult to sell if there isn't a built-in audience for your topic, or if you have no existing audience. Brook Warner of She Writes Press suggests that before you publish, you take the time to build your author platform.
Starting from scratch
Building an author platform with strong credibility, reach and authority takes time. However, there is much you can do in a short time to create your author platform base. Here's what I recommend to get started:
- Claim your name and create accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and any other networks of the moment
- Choose one or two social networks to experiment with and start building a following
- Create a professional website
- Start building your email list
- Become active in the communities surrounding your topics of interest and publication
Once you have a solid base established, every action you take will gradually build your author platform and increase your actual reach and audience.
Start building your platform on Twitter right now, with a little help.
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