How to Build Your Author Platform

Today’s writing and publishing world is highly competitive and as authors, you will need to represent your "business" — you and your work — with a solid foundation that exhibits your writing resume. Known as the Author Platform, your public relations and marketing efforts build awareness for your work, enhance your professional reputation and amplify your visibility.

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An author used to be able to sell a great manuscript solely on the idea paired with great writing. The current wave of traditional and self-publishing success includes an author platform that is preferably established during the drafting stage of your book. Taking this proactive approach to your writing career will help establish a resume detailing your accomplishments in an effort toward making you and your book a success. A success … through creating author-reader dialogue to build your database of readers, gain endorsements or “supported by” backing and maximize your personal brand and professional reputation.

So, what exactly is an author platform? Your platform details who you are and what you are known for — your public face — as well as showcases your ability to promote yourself in the marketplace. Each of your marketing efforts contributes to the layers and strength of your platform, and thus presence in your industry. Your platform is how you reach out to readers in order to build exposure, a network and notoriety.

Included within your author platform is a mix of marketing elements optimizing benefits from the publishing, journalism, technology and business arenas. You will need to tap into various outlets of opportunity in order to add a personal connection to your potential readers and the industry. Here’s how you can get started in building your author platform.

  • Create a great Web site. You can sign up for WestBow Press' Author Web Site service and we'll set up a site that you can customize the look and design as it represents you. Be sure to update your content regularly, keeping the Web site fresh and up-to-date with the changes and growth of your career. Include information about you and your book, pictures of your cover, reviews, a schedule of speaking events, endorsements, articles or any other press materials, video clips and anything else that may help in boosting interest to your site.
  • Be prepared with a press kit. Your kit should include a one-page press release highlighting your unique direction and the benefit of your content, an author bio and perhaps a photo and a sell-sheet with book ordering information. You can even include extras, such as a jpeg of your author photo and book cover, an article detailing the key elements of your book and storyline, a DVD containing your media clips, and a mock interview with ten questions and answers that may be used for print media or an actual interview.
  • Get endorsements from experts within your industry or recognizable names. This association will add an influx in professionalism to your name and work.
  • Connect your topic to breaking news. The media is interested in tying related topics to the news happening right now. If your writing is in relation to current news, contact the appropriate venue as an author with knowledge on the topic.
  • Speak on your topic. Develop a speech that combines your expertise and book topic that is also tied into current events/news. Keep a record of your speaking engagements, who your audience is and the number of attendees. Speak for free if you have to and also look into teaching adult extended learning classes in your city.
  • Develop a blog. Become involved in the writing community. Your blog should be less about pitching your book and more about contributing to a discussion.
  • Utilize audio and video. You may create an author interview, discussion, or even a type of trailer for your book. Add it to your Web site, create a link within your e-mail and post it on YouTube. You can have a team of experts create and distribute your video through WestBow Press Video services.
  • Join writing organizations. Involvement in organizations helps to build a network of professionals within your same industry. You may learn from and utilize this affiliation in building your writing career.
  • Be a friend to All bookstores. Never walk by a bookstore without going in and introducing yourself. Shake the hands of managers and employees and thank them for helping in the success of your book. We all tend to recommend on experience — someone we know and like. A personal touch to those directly dealing with consumers may result in the suggestion of your book to potential readers. Be sure to have promotional materials on hand for each visit.
  • Consider a marketing professional. Hiring a marketing professional or publicist can help polish your materials and presentation as well as introduce you to varying media contacts. It can be a bit expensive, but allows you to reach areas you may not have been able to reach on your own. You will also gain inside knowledge and techniques you can apply throughout your career.

You are not building an author platform to sell your book; you are building your career and introducing yourself to the industry. This platform is the foundation of your business that, with an investment in time, will open up literary avenues and a direction of opportunity. Your platform is key to getting media attention and book reviews, as well as, becomes leverage to move your book through the circuit. Credibility and accountability as an author is enriched by showing your investment in yourself and your writing — and why the industry and the readers should also invest in You.

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