Growing An Author Platform, by Jenn J McLeod
Last month I wrote about establishing an author platform. I also suggested publishers want their authors to connect with readers, and readers want to connect with authors and therefore, whether the dream is print or online publishing, authors would do well to consider ways to increase visibility, reach and authenticity.
Here’s how I increased mine (after establishing my author platform, that is).
Visibility is about helping readers find you.
1. Get blogging – Not interested? No idea how? Nothing to say? That’s what I thought in the beginning. But how do you know until you try? While having your own blog is preferable—somewhere to capture comments and establish connections—if you’re not convinced, or you don’t want your own blog just yet, that’s okay too. Simply ask other aspiring authors/bloggers if you can do a guest post (on an agreed topic) on their blog. (HINT: The best way to establish a relationship with other bloggers is to start commenting on their posts!) When you approach them, be up front about your uncertainty and I’m sure you will find people willing to help out. (Even more so if you’re adding quality content and bring new visitors/commentors to their site!)
2. Get branded – Look around. Find an author whose blog/website you enjoy. Study the site and watch what they do to draw in an audience. (Again, Helene Young is a great study in social media management.) Social media, and setting up a blog, costs nothing but your time (and possibly your sanity, depending on how familiar you are with such things.) Don’t be daunted. Sites like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Weebly.com make it too easy. You don’t need to buy URLs or pay for hosting to start a blog or a website. (I’m pretty proud of my D.I.Y. website and it cost me nothing to build—other than a few more grey hairs!)
3. Get noticed – Google yourself. The more you do online (blog posts, guest posts, Facebook, etc) the greater your visibility. Searching ‘Jenn J McLeod’—my brand name—shows pretty good visibility considering I splash around the cyber sea like a drowning chook most times. However, search my real name ‘Jennifer McLeod’ and you’ll see barely anything (and unfortunately I am not the pretty blonde woman in the Google Images result either!) Hint: adopting an unusual pen-name is an option, but avoid unusual names/spelling.
Reach is getting in touch with readers
4. Get social – Social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin) are readily-available, free-to-use mechanisms for connecting with a global audience. Start with one and once comfortable with that you can decide if you want to take on more. I started on Facebook as it is easy to lurk in the background, poking my head out every now and then.
5. Get real, get involved – There are only very rare cases where a million-dollar deal means you can sit back and do nothing. So keep it real. Publishing for most of us these days is all hands on deck. Get involved. Your book might be your product, and getting that product in front of readers who are going to love it is what publishers and bookshops do, but your brand…? That’s you. And if you’re smart about creating your author platform – if you brand yourself and your product in a nice marketable package – you will have what publishers love…
Authenticity is what helped clinch my two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. I’d developed a point of difference that made me stand out from all the other pickle jars. As a result, my publicist was able to draw on aspects of my ‘Come home to the country’ brand for added cut through when designing her marketing campaign. An example is this Simon & Schuster designed interactive page that supported the launch of House for all Seasons (www.houseforallseasons.com.au).
There are lots of choices and different strokes for different folks. Some authors are so into social media I wonder when they find time to sleep. Some balance it out with their writing. Of course you can choose to do nothing. There are plenty of examples of authors who shy away from social media and do nothing but write great books. They take a “build it (or write it) and they will come” approach.
The best choice is always the one you enjoy because true passion = authenticity.
Jenn J McLeod’s author website: www.jennjmcleod.com
Writing Novels in Australia