As many have said before me, the author platform is a difficult concept to define, yet, arguably the most important, next to writing.
What Is an Author Platform?
An author’s platform is, at its core, your ability to sell your written work and reach others, either by means of who you are or your reach.
The platform is the plan. It is the method by which you intend to communicate with your readers and fellow industry professionals.
When constructing your author platform, know that reaching readers is important, but connecting with other writers, authors, agents, promoters, and editors is important as well.
Like many things, when it comes to the writing and publishing industry, building your author platform is obscure, often only becoming clear after having immersed yourself and trying and failing.
Building, or acting with intention, when it comes to your writer's platform should be thought of only in conjunction with how you view your writing brand/identity.
The writing platform is the space you intend to occupy, the stage you want to perform on, and the location you want your readers to go to. Your author platform is broad, including your readers and fellow writers as well as your work.
What an Author Platform Is Not
Your writing platform is not a place to blast advertisements and self-promotion. Often this can be the killing blow when it comes to our authenticity.
There is a time and place for self-promotion, but the focus—especially in the beginning—should not be exclusively on blasting your audience with links and sales.
Instead, try promoting yourself, your writing, and your brand.
The reason why both of these are key and why I am advocating for both (not one or the other) is that the two of them will feed into one another.
Both can serve the same purpose but should act as a way to drive traffic, potential readers, and fans to one another. When people find your author site, they should be encouraged to follow you on your social(s), and vice-versa.
There are many ways you can continue to grow your platform. The below recommendations do not cover everything but can give you an idea of what has worked for me and other writers.
These are mostly suggestions for how you can utilize your author website and social media platform(s).
5 Ways to Use Your Author Website and Social Media Platforms
1. Distribute your work and talk about topics related to your work.
Keep in mind your target audience here and try to imagine what they may want to read, know, or talk about in addition to your writing.
2. Similarly, start conversations around your work via blog posts, articles, newsletters, social media posts, videos, or podcasts.
The aim here is to start a conversation and foster a community for people who are interested in what you write.
3. Be authentic with your engagements and replies.
Once people start joining your community, the objective is to give them authenticity. People are smart and will be able to tell if you are just using them for views/reads/purchases.
4. While occupying online spaces, you will likely interact and come in contact with other writers.
Partnering with your colleagues and influencers can be a great way to broaden visibility and work on unique projects.
5. Think of creative ways to engage with your audience.
There is plenty of room for you to carve your own path.
The Importance of Engagement
Once you’ve established yourself on one social media platform or another, your job is to engage.
Authenticity is important here, as is understanding the mechanics of whatever platform you’ve decided on.
I have tried a fair bit of them, finding the best community that suits my style of engagement on both Medium and Twitter.
Depending on your creative threshold and willingness to work cross-platform, there is so much opportunity to connect.
Find What Works for You
Your author platform is a snowball that wants to become a snowman. You will need to roll it and continue to roll it to make it into something useful to you and your audience. It is a gradual process that should be tended to.
A large following on social media isn’t necessarily an “author platform,” because remember, your platform is merely a measure of your reach and ability to distribute your work.
Having an authentic presence on social media platforms, a community, and a network, however, is.
I should also say that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to building an author platform. You should consider your goals, your target audience, and the scope of your project/work.
The Biggest Thing, When It Comes to Your Author Platform
...is finding what works for you. If your website can bring people in via a newsletter or if your Twitter has consistent engagement, that is great. If it is helping you reach your goal, even better.
Part of the process of building your platform is seeing what works for others, and work works for people whose career is similar to what you aspire for.
Learn from those around you and treat your author platform as an investment, because, well, it is.
No one builds a successful author platform overnight and, as stated earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all.
The one thing that is, however, consistent across all those that have had success in establishing a presence online, is that they have been consistent with their given platform and that they have engaged authentically.
Find what works for you. Find what you’re comfortable with. And find what feels most natural.
No snowman started as a snowman. They took time, an accumulation of effort, and thought-out preparation.