By Rachelle M. N. Shaw
In such a highly competitive world of publishing, it’s no surprise that author platforms have taken center stage and become the foundation for any writer’s success.
But who has time to keep up with all the Tweets, Pins, and Instagram posts needed to do so? The truth is, successful authors don’t. They pick the top few social media sites that fit their style and their audience, and they roll with it.
What an Author Platform Should Do
- Provide original content fitting of your audience through a well-designed blog or website
- Become a place where you regularly engage with your followers; this doesn’t mean you sit back and let autoreply do all the work
- Teach readers about yourself or your writing process
- Allow readers to connect with you and follow you on various social media
- Build your credibility as an author
- Act as a landing site for media and for readers seeking events that you’re hosting; it’s a good idea to include a press release, a bio, and a professional photograph of yourself in at least one place
- Tastefully link to your books, including where to buy them
Keep in mind that even though your platform is about you as an author, its main focus should always be on your readers and what you can provide them.
Think of it as a job interview—you want to show off your skills while marketing yourself as a prime candidate for the position.
What an Author Platform Shouldn’t Do
- Spam readers with promotions for other authors—if you want a creative way to spotlight other authors on your website or blog, try author interviews; they’re a fun and easy way to build connections
- Contain nothing but reblogs from other sites (it’s okay to share some of these too, but the majority of your posts should be ORIGINAL content)
- Use completely automated responses
- Be information based only (readers need a way to connect with you personally; a newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this)
- Ignore rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and spelling—this will sink your credibility faster than a one-star review
- Feature a bathroom photo of yourself or one you took while out drinking with your buddies
- Spam readers with promotional content for your own books (keep it to a minimum with a blurb or tagline and links for buying your books; you can also put your information about your books on a separate, clearly marked page)
Choosing Social Media that Is Right for You
The most important thing to sort out when it comes to choosing which social media you want to use is which ones will cater best to your audience. For me, though I write both YA fiction and general nonfiction about the craft of writing, the age for my target audience for the two overlaps the most for readers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine. For that reason, sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are my main areas of reach. However, six social media sites still proved to be too many to invest my time in. So I opted to keep things simple and to go with the sites that worked best for me in terms of audience and comfort level: the blog on my website (a WordPress substitute that actually works better since it leads followers directly to my own website), Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Through active engagement and regular original content, I’ve been able to build a relationship with my readers on those sites, and my author platform has grown because of it.
The secret to building a successful author platform is this: you don’t have to reach every virtual corner of the Internet to do so.
You just need to delve into those media where you’re mostly likely to reach your target audience and provide them with solid content that they can’t resist.
An avid reader who has an incurable need to research everything she comes across, Rachelle is an author of paranormal, horror, and writing craft books. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor and author while being a stay-at-home mom to her children and two rather persnickety cats. When she’s not baking cupcakes or playing in the snow, you can catch her blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series. Her e-book, The Eyes That Moved, was released in May 2015. It is the first in her three-part paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls. Part two is slated for release in the spring of 2016.
Rachelle also has two solo short stories and the first in a four-book series about the craft of writing fiction in the works.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rmnsauthor/