Platform is a measurable ‘public audience’ that will buy your book. With social media and the Internet, everyone can have a platform for free and for fiction authors, having a platform is like icing on the cake. It could be the difference between an agent signing you, or the person they just spoke with.
We’ve found that writers aren’t interested in the business end of their writing careers – but that’s like Martin Luther King, Jr. saying, “I want to end slavery in America” and not doing anything to let people know about the injustice, or understand why they need to stop it. People need to know what you’re about and why they should care about what you have to say. We had the opportunity while at Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference this week to chat with website guru Thomas Umstattd from Austin, Texas. Check out his blog Author Tech Tips. He has some great tips for authors.
Authors no longer need a radio show, television program, public profile or speaking ministry to have a platform. Social media has become an equalizer among those looking to share a message, be seen or heard. Here are some key things that every author should be doing in order to be seen and heard in this busy world.
Blogging gives you an instant voice and visibility. According to Umstattd, WordPress is the best blogging platform because it’s set up to help google find you better than other platforms. The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is the difference between renting an apartment and owning a house.
WordPress.com is free and comes with lots of great SEO tools. (See our post about writing SEO content.) However, you have to pay extra for everything. It’s like owning an apartment. You don’t have to cut the grass or fix the faucet, but you need permission to paint or do any updates.
WordPress.org is also free and comes with lots of great SEO tools, but it’s more like owning a house. You can customize your site any way like, update and add-on to the basic template, but you are responsible for maintenance. Setting up a WordPress.org site is tricky. You need a host, to buy a url, etc. You wouldn’t buy a house without a lawyer unless you really knew what you were doing – same here.
Facebook and Twitter
Do your friends/followers know you are a writer? Are you talking about your writing? Do you have a business/fan page on Facebook? The fastest growing segment of users on Facebook is people 45+ and the average user is spending almost an hour a day there. Who is your audience? Typically teens don’t Twitter. You have to interact with others and join conversations.
No one cares what you had for dinner. Find something unique that people are interested in. If you already have a blog, take a look at what your most popular posts are. What are people interested in? With social media, the more you narrow your audience, the more people will follow you. It seems counter-intuitive, but people who go bird watching are looking for specific birds, not just any bird. Same principle. Don’t blog about the same thing everyone else is talking about, find something unique to talk about.
Provide added value
Laura Christianson runs a business called Blogging Bistro and has a 1 to 10 ratio. She provides 9 free information, tips, and insider-know-how posts for every 1 post where she’s trying to sell something. Statistically, I heard people are 40-50% more likely to buy your product if they follow you on Facebook. You need to build a brand and buyer confidence. Thomas Umstadtt says every author should give away the first chapter of their book on their website – even Amazon does that. It’s a world of free.
It’s the difference between the guy with the sandwich board on the sidewalk (just putting his message out there), and the free sample booth at Costco (giving away something of value). Which product/business are you more likely to remember and search out later?
What are you doing to build your platform?