Posted by Calisa Rhose
I said I’d blog about platforms so here we are. Welcome! Thank you all for the great response to the earlier post about Social Media. I hope you get something from this post, as well.
What is an author platform and do I need one?
I hadn’t even heard of this terminology until last year. What is an author platform? It’s basically who you are as a writer and how you plan to put yourself out there for sale.
So let’s break it down. I’ve called on some experts for this.
- Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
- Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
- Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
- Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodontist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?).
and what platform is NOT:
- It is not about self-promotion.
- It is not about hard selling.
- It is not about annoying people.
- It is not about being an extrovert.
(For more of this NOT list and the full article, follow the link in Jane’s name above)
Not sure yet? Already have a fail-safe platform? Is your platform current?
I discovered, like the publishing industry, your platform changes, needs to be updated as times change what we think we know.
Alan Rinzler is a consulting editor who says how to build platforms:
So whoever you are and however great you think your platform is, if it’s not new, it may be only as good as yesterday’s publishing standards. 🙂
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ll be doing a major overhaul on my blog and website. This is why. I don’t write erotic or m/m so why do I showcase those wonderful writers who do? Why do I host books on subject matter I don’t write about? Well, my reason is easy. Friendship. I want to support and help my friends promote their talent. But does helping those authors of genres/topics I don’t write help me? Or could it be hurting my own platform? Am I doing more damage than good by putting content on my blog that I don’t write, no matter how much I enjoy it?
Let’s face it– I’m only here because I’m a writer trying to sell my own wares. So are you. Right? Writing, publishing, is business and I’m a business woman. I mean, stores don’t post competitors sales just because they like them or want to see them succeed. By the same token one publisher won’t publicize another. It would put that store/publisher out of business after a while of sending all their customers across the street where prices are better. No, instead, they use those competitors prices to showcase their own better bargains!
So…how can we, as authors and business people, use that platform to help ourselves and each other? Because we all know authors are the greatest supporters of our own competitors IN THE WORLD!!!!! 😀 Can I get an AMEN?
I think we writers can better strengthen our own platforms by showcasing others’ books in the same genre and subgenre, and even content matter (to some extent), and publishing houses by hosting those talented people in our cyber homes. I also think we can do ourselves justice by sharing genres we don’t write, and by publishers we don’t write for. So what to do?
Well, the same store who uses prices to beat out the competition? He advertises clearly what he sells, but his employees (this would be authors) allow the competitor’s customers to post sale items for sale in the windows. No, that store doesn’t sell puppies, tractors, or horses, but their act of goodwill helps the community who does– and brings in more customers for their wares at the same time– with the secure knowledge those flyers will come down after a short time (usually). As a writer that’s what I’m doing, allowing others to post their flyers (books) in my window (blog) for a short time, regardless of what my store (website) boasts I sell (write).
But, there is a reason my readers/followers are on my blog (I’m not talking about supportive friends of any and all genres here, because I know without a doubt why those lovelies are here). So, if I’m not giving my readers what they expect from my platform, can I expect them to come back? A better question might be, are “my” followers really mine? If not, then who am I really helping, and again, is that answer good or bad for my own author platform?
Or am I really fooling myself, and therefore, losing my own “target audience” who doesn’t read those other genres? Should I just put an age appropriate warning on my website to suit everyone? I don’t think that’s the answer. But I love helping friends promote their historical books, their ‘sexy’ books, and I don’t want to stop that support. So what will I do?
I’ll keep doing what I love to do…just in a different way.
I want to leave you with this article (note especially the part I underlined in the last line) by Strategic Marketer, Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire), and encourage you to read the full article if you are still unsure whether you do or don’t need a platform: http://turndogmillionaire.com/2012/06/05/you-are-your-author-platform/
“Be the master of your own world and embrace your author platform like you would your story. Everything you create and do is part of it, and if you don’t like something, you have the power to change, or as I like to see it, evolve yourself.
You make the rules and should be damn proud of the ones you create.”
So today’s burning question to share in comments is:
Do you have an author platform and is it current? If you don’t, why not? If you do, how does it help you as a writer?