A writer who has ever done any research on her intended occupation has heard the term author platform. Author platform describes all the ways in which you can gain visibility among readers. It refers to your web presence, public speaking and classes taught, media contacts or previous publishing credits such as articles written for magazines, newspapers or websites as well as your networking skills. Your platform is the difference between a reader passing your book up or her giving it a chance by flipping the cover open to read the inside flap.
Guest blog by Lindsey Edwards, writer
of paranormal, fantasy and historical
romance. See her website here.
Going about establishing a platform is different for writers of fiction and nonfiction books. For one, nonfiction authors need to create a trustworthy name for themselves before seeking representation or publication, whereas fiction authors need to focus their efforts more on reaching the masses once they’ve signed a book deal with a publishing house.
NONFICTION PLATFORM TIPS
Create a name for yourself. Before an agent will agree to represent your book, you first need to create a name for yourself. For nonfiction, it’s very important to have testimonials to back you when trying to sell a piece of work you claim to be intimately knowledgeable of.
Target your readers and cater to them.A book is never going to be met with unanimous approval. Meet with your audience by speaking at colleges, libraries, businesses or with whomever else your book could find a home. Even online classes, advertised to the right audience, can bring in potential readers.
Join professional organizations—where you can participate in events and meet with other experts in your field who could later endorse your book.
Write articles—for websites, magazines or newspapers on your topic.
Volunteer. Many friendships or offers are achieved through shared interest and goodwill.
Don’t forget the power of the Internet. Blogs and websites, networking sites and forums are all ways to identify yourself with readers as an expert in your field.
FICTION PLATFORM TIPS
With fiction, agents are more interested in previous publishing credits, but once you sign on the dotted line with a publishing house and have a release date it’s very important to do your share of publicizing yourself and your novel.
Get in touch with the publicity department of your publishing house to see what they will do to help spread the word and strategize a plan offering up ideas of your own. Publishing houses only reserve so much money toward authors, and even fewer dollars are spent on publicizing new novels so you may want to consider putting some of your advance towards the exposure of your novel, it will be well worth it on your next advance if you do this right.
Create a professional looking website with information on yourself, links to any networking sites, a list of your appearances, a guestbook to sign, and perhaps if you have any to share, information on coming attractions.
Obtain a blurb from a well-known author who writes books similar to yours, endorsing your novel.
Locate all the influential book reviewers and make sure they receive an ARC (advanced reading copy) of your novel.
Generate good word of mouth. Now more than ever, word of mouth is done over the Internet. Good news for you because it broadens your circle of readers to those who may tweet to their friends (a Twitter term) good tidings of your book.
Market yourself online so people start to become familiar with your name. When you have a release date for your novel you can do a blog tour where you visit several blogs that compliment the type of book you are marketing and do interviews.
Giveaways. Set aside a few books from the ARCs you receive and use them to create a stir by hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of your book.
Video tape yourself reading an enticing summary or scene excerpt from your book and post it on your networking sites, YouTube and even websites or blogs of friends.
Radio, newspaper and television interviews can help spread the word about a book signing. Remember to have a freebie to hand out to your readers like a bumper sticker, bookmark, postcard, magnet or what have you with your name and the name of your book, along with your web address for further exposure.
Ask for reviews. One more tip for authors of either type of book is to ask anyone who’s said they loved your book to write a review of it on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble website.
To see how well you’ve done at getting the word out about yourself and your book, sign up for alerts on the search of your name or book. Go to google.com/alerts. Good luck!