A Written View – Creating Your Author Platform

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By Doug Owen

Self-Publishing has been around for a long time, but never to the extent it is today. CreateSpace, Kindle, Kobo, and now Blurb are pushing for your business. When you look at all of the avenues available and what they say you must do to promote your own work, it is staggering.

The biggest ‘Must do’ out there is an Author Platform. This usually helps you sell your book(s) to the public. Many lists can be found on the net for your author platform. All appear long enough to boggle any new writer. How do you navigate them? What are the pitfalls if you don’t do one of the steps? That is something to look at closely.

So never fear: here is how you should build your platform and start selling books. (Note: this applies to self-published, indy-published and traditionally-published works.)

  1. Website! If you don’t have a website yet, get one. Make it stand out with your name. For example, I use DAOWEN.CA. It is my name. It is recognizable. It is set with a .CA extension in order to designate my location (Canada). This is important. Don’t use [name].wordpress.org for your blog; it screams, ‘Don’t take me seriously’.
  2. Social Media. Facebook, Google+, Tumbler, and so many more. Each will allow you to have a ‘Page’ for yourself. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be the same as your personal page. Make it good with graphics and pictures. You’ll be pushing to it from your website. You fill in your blog post, and the program used to display your website will post forward to the sites for you. Takes away so many steps.
  3. Who’s your audience? Figure it out. Teenage girls or adult men? Narrow down the field and make sure you make blog posts for them. If you target teenage boys, you’re not going to talk about makeup in your blog.
  4. Budget. Figure it out. You need to know how much to spend or determine the max you can spend. If you don’t know, it is a gamble.
  5. Marketing. You need to have a definite plan in place. Marketing is what will get people to see that you wrote a book. Anything else is just a crap shoot. This step covers how you market, what themes you use, and so forth. Marketing is enormous when it comes to advertising.
  6. Your author story. You need to tell people who you are and why you write what you do. An author story will connect audiences to you, make them understand where you are coming from, and maybe, if luck holds out, make people want to purchase the books.
  7. Notification lists. Your social media generally handles this, but for those potential buyers who don’t have such, a notification list is important. Try newsletters, combining your words with links that show how to buy your work; those are always good.
  8. Easy to buy. Many do it. They create a link to the ‘buy’ page that spans three lines in their posting. Use TinyURL or something similar to link to the actual ‘buy’ page for your book, whether it is the publisher’s page or your own site. Don’t make it hard to find or read, or decrease the font size. Make it so they will click on the link.
  9. Link your book. Do you write articles? If so, put links in them referring readers to your book and website. Don’t forget the social media links that will sell your book as well. Every little bit helps.
  10. Schedule. Don’t just post whenever something comes to mind. Post your information at certain times of the day. Check your media to see when people are actually viewing your site and time your posts accordingly.
  11. Promote for free! Yes, there are places you can promote your book and people will look at it. There will be a list of sites following this article. I’ll post it on my website for you to look at.
  12. Goodreads. Though I’ve never had any success with them, a Goodreads give-away is another avenue to get your name out there. Get your author profile and claim your book.
  13. Time your release. Make sure it matches something special that is coming up. Be it a vacation or an anniversary, just make sure it matters.
  14. Create a ‘Must Read’ guide at the end of your book. Advertise your other books (if you have any) or promote other authors. Make sure you are exchanging such with them and they’re doing the same.
  15. Photo. Get a good, high resolution photo of yourself for the book and pages. Make sure you smile in it.
  16. Press releases. Get those going. Nothing says ‘professional’ like a good press release.
  17. Guest posts. One of the greatest ways to get your name out there is to guest post on other blogs. There are several of them and they are all looking for people to post.
  18. Pre-release reviews. Yes, it is nice to get someone to read your book, but how will others know how that person enjoyed it? Get reviews fast. This can happen with give-aways and other promotional releases. Hunt for them and ask those who read the book to help boost your sales, for if they like what you wrote, there is a good chance they would like you to write more.
  19. Cool bookmarks. Yes, it is old school, but very effective. Make sure you print out a bunch of them for people to have. If they see your book and website printed on it, they are more likely to check you out and possibly buy from you.
  20. Be nice. Reach out a hand and shake it with the public. Most people will buy a book from an author who is genuine and smiles. Talk to them about the book, but don’t give too much away. Would you buy a book from someone who just dismisses you when they see you?
  21. Tempt your readers. Insert sample chapters from the next book in a series. Put it at the end of your current book or include something when they buy the first. It will spike their interest, and possibly generate more sales.
  22. Categories are your friends. Make sure you place your book in the right area of Amazon, Google, Kobo and all the other retailers you list with. An incorrectly-categorized book will not sell, for no one wants to read science fiction when they are looking for memoirs.
  23. Write series. Not every story can have a second or third book, but some can. Take the time to carry on the story of a hero or their sidekick. The possibilities are endless when you can push out three or four books on the never-ending adventures of the characters people love to read about.
  24. Advertise back. At the end of your book, make sure you list the titles of books that you have previously published. The chances are if they like your writing, the reader will want to seek out other books that you wrote, so help them find those books.
  25. Promo kits. Graphics, images, links, and excerpts are great when trying to sell what you have. Make sure they are on other blog sites, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
  26. Podcast tours. Yes, the podcast is a great way to get yourself noticed. Take the time to connect with someone and have an interview done online. You will be surprised at how many people will seek out your writing if they like what they hear.
  27. Networking events, expos, and conferences. Make sure you write a proposal to present at an event. Gain connections and increase your credibility. This will develop networks and possibly influence others to buy your books.
  28. Email signatures. Every email you send out is a call to buy your book. Others will see a link to your blog and click it out of curiosity. Once they are there, you have them.
  29. Workshops. Non-fiction writers can teach others about what they have in their books. This is a good way to generate sales. Just think of all those survivalists who teach others how to do what they do. Every one of them has a book to sell, and most people who attend their events will buy that book.
  30. Redesign your book cover. If you find the book cover is not attracting attention, then redesign it so it does.
  31. Launch strategy. A book launch requires a lot more prep and strategy than just a few posts on Facebook and a couple of tweets. Plan your launch and get a plan put in motion. Don’t just rely on word of mouth; get to it with your author platform.
  32. Affiliates make money. Sign up for an affiliate program with other book sellers. Get a plan, offer a commission. Make sure they work for you and you work for them.
  33. Contact. Add a way for people to contact you at the end of your book. It could be as simple as your website, and it can have a ‘contact me’ page on it, or a link to your social media page.
  34. Write like it is your business. Your website and social media pages are your outward-looking face to those who will never meet you. Make sure they are professional and don’t portray you as a hobbyist or wannabe. You are committed to selling your book; make it look like that. You are a writer; make it professional.
  35. Urgency. Use time-limited coupons, giveaways, and other contests to get people interested. Do this on your website and use social media to point to it. The more clicks you get, the better off you are.
  36. Use local merchants. Get a number of copies of your book and ask local stores to carry it on consignment. Make sure they can capture 40 percent of the sales for their profit, and you have more books out there for the public to read. This generates a relationship with a retailer who can be your best friend.
  37. Become an expert. Make sure you tie your books in with something that you know. You are an expert of something and if it’s in your book in some way, it’s a jumping off point. Use it. Exploit it.
  38. Fiverr. Yes, it is cheap, but there are sellers out there who will submit your book to many free websites and push your press releases to the world. Use them.
  39. Connect with readers. Yes, online is great, but in your face is better. It is easy for someone to ignore an email, but when you are there talking to them, it is magical. Make sure you put forth a good face.
  40. Skype a book read. This is easy. Arrange for someone to record your thoughts and read excerpts from your book. Sometimes, all it takes is a few lines to perk someone’s interest.
  41. Vacations that work. Going somewhere? Take your books with you. Sometimes all it takes is someone asking you what you do. You’re a writer? Yes. Have a book ready, for they may find it interesting enough to buy a copy. When that happens, others may ask them where they got it. That person will point to you. Who doesn’t want their book signed by the author?
  42. Promote others. Get friendly with writers in your genre. Promote them and they will promote you. This is an easy way to make money and friends who will praise your work.
  43. Advertise. Facebook ads are not as expensive as you think. Google ads can boost just about anyone. There are so many ways to advertise, it is not funny.
  44. Free is bad. But sometimes, a free giveaway will generate sales later on, especially if you wrote a series.
  45. Bundles sell. Take it from your telecommunications or cable supplier. Bundle your books with a small discount and people will by two, instead of just the one.
  46. Fans are great. Talk to your fans about spreading the news of your books. Get them to talk to others about the great author they just purchased a book from.

These are the top 46 things you can do to get your work out there. How many are you doing?

 

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Learn more about: Doug Owen

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