The Best Ways To Build An Epic Author Platform

author platform

A wave of anxiety may pass over you when you hear the phrase ‘author platform.’

I don’t blame you!

But every author in the 21st century is going through it too! You need to learn the essentials and get cracking…but where do you start?

Don’t worry because we’re here to break author platforms down into tiny pieces so it’s impossible to get choked up!

In this blog we’ll look at what an author platform is, the benefits of it and how you build one.

What Is an Author Platform

There are many ways to describe an author platform. But we’ve got it down to a few key aspects: influence, reach and connections.

An author platform is everything you do to make others aware of your authorship and your books. It is the influence you have that pulls people into your orbit.

It’s also everything you do to drive awareness and to drive book sales.

For example, an author churning out insanely good content to their massive email list. Or an author that posts funny updates about their life on Twitter. In some cases, this author is doing both simultaneously!

That’s because an author platform is like baking a good cake. You have to put in various fresh ingredients to get a yummy creation. A pinch of podcast appearances here and a dash of blog posts there. And boom! A delicious author platform.

And the secret ingredient is you! Your author platform is about taking what makes you special and using it to reach your audience and gain connections authentically.

You may be scratching your head because this sounds somewhat similar to an author brand. Let’s clear that up real quick.

Difference between author platform and author brand

We explain it in more detail in our post on author branding, but an author brand is what people associate with your name when they think of you.

An author platform is what you use to influence others. If you were to stand on a platform and ask others to listen to you, will they do it once they realize it’s you?

Do You Need an Author Platform?

For nonfiction authors, you absolutely need one. If you want people to buy into your honest stories, you have to give them a reason to trust you.

But if you’re a fiction author…an author platform used to be more a want than a need. If you wanted to stay indoors, hunched over your laptop in a dark room, then you were most welcome to.

But nowadays it’s essential for fiction authors too!

A major reason for all types of authors to have an author platform is: getting published. Publishers are investing in you. They want to know that if they sign you on, your books will sell. This is why celebrities get book deals quickly. Publishers KNOW they’ll sell. Some celebrities have a community that will jump at the chance to buy their book.

A strong author platform shows that readers will buy your books. This applies for self-published authors too since it will aid you in selling your books and creating awareness of your work.

Benefits of an Author Platform

Before we get to how you build an author platform, let’s look at the benefits of having one.

Book Sales

We already discussed it but it’s a huge benefit. Publishers are more likely to give you a book deal when you have an author platform. It guarantees book sales in the publisher’s eyes.

And for self-published authors, you will be ensuring that you will sell your book by investing in your author platform.

Your reputation

You can’t control others’ opinions. But you can put a clear image in their head of how you want to be perceived using your author platform. People will still form their own opinions, but it will be surrounded by what you’ve put out there.

Building your author platform builds your reputation. With a good reputation, others will likely want to work with you. And better yet, readers will want to buy books from you.

Sam Harris Making Sense Podcast

Take Sam Harris for example. He sparks conversations online that help others navigate the world politically and morally. And it’s all backed up by the fact that he’s a neuroscientist, philosopher and a New York Times best-selling author.

Build connections

You’ll find it easier to connect with the people in your field and readers too! Having multiple outlets to reach your fans and keep them updated while also showing you’re human too will build solid connections.

An author platform will make it much easier to book promotion engagements and to reach out to another author for advice because the entertainment industry can take a toll!

Take a break

Working on something that has very little to do with writing a book can be a much-needed break from the process. It may even help with writer’s block to be creative in another way!

Your home away from home

Whether you have your Wi-Fi on or not, your online content will live on the internet 24/7. Having an author platform will make it easier for others to find you. 

In the middle of the night while you’re sleeping (or while you’re stuck proofreading sentences over and over) someone can arrive on your website and sign up for your email list. Or buy a book!

How To Build an Author Platform

So, how do you build this tool to connect with others? You don’t have to wave your wand or yell from the rooftop. But those 2 methods might be easier (if they actually worked), because as with most important things in life, this is time consuming.

You don’t have to do every single strategy mentioned, but you have to combine quite a few if you want to build a substantial author platform.

  1. Get to know your target audience
  2. Build an epic author website
  3. Use an email list
  4. Start blogging
  5. Use social media 
  6. Make connections 
  7. During events
  8. Get creative
  9. Get technical
  10. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
  11. Diversify your platforms

Get to know your target audience

You probably already know your target audience since that’s who you have in mind when you’re writing your books. But do you know what they do when they’re not reading your books?

You need to do some research to see where your audience hangs out. For example:

  1. What forums and blogs do they visit? 
  2. Which social media accounts do they follow? 
  3. What other books do they read?

Knowing all of this information can help you with crafting your author platform because you’ll know what your audience likes and doesn’t like.

Build an epic author website

An author website is an absolute must. Your readers need to be able to find all your work easily and there’s no better one-stop-shop than your author website.

The great thing about an author website is that you control the user’s experience. The style, fonts, colors and atmosphere is curated by you.

Sure, your online presence on social media lets people find you easily as well. But that’s on some other platform where they can easily follow a tag to somewhere else and never come back. Your author website is only for YOU.

And it hosts not just your readers, but industry professionals too. You need a professional author website to show that you take your authorship seriously.

Keep in mind that your website should be user friendly, mobile friendly, load fast and represent you as an author.

That’s a lot of items to tick off but we here at Rocket Expansion take pride in how well we tick those boxes.

Use an email list

Your email list contains the people that have voluntarily signed up to see more work from you.

This is done by using a reader magnet on your author website that will attract readers to sign up. If they’re up for the ride, then they’ll join your email list!

Those who signed up to be on your email list are already interested in your brand so you can use this to bolster your author platform.

You can use email lists to send updates about your life as a writer, book teasers for upcoming releases. You can also remind them to review your newly released book.

Lastly, remember to be consistent and only send good content. Don’t only send emails for book releases then drop off the face of the earth to return a year later to promote another book. This comes off as disingenuous.

Start blogging

Blogging is a cool way to funnel people to your author world. It gives you a chance to attract more readers.

People can comment on your blog posts, and you should comment right back! 

Not to mention the relationships you can build by chatting to other people that also work in this space!

You can establish that type of relationship if you do a guest post or blog tour. A guest post is when you write a blog for someone else’s website.

You may be asking, “Why post a blog for someone else when I can post it on my site?”

Well, young grasshopper, you’ll be exposing yourself to a whole new audience that can then bring traffic to your website.

Top Tip #1: Research the audience and topics for bloggers and see who aligns to your author platform then send a friendly email to those who make the cut!

Use social media

Social media is a fickle mistress, but it’s okay because it treats everyone like that. The trick is to find a way to make your true self stand out.

Social media is an important tool to use when trying to connect with your readers. All you have to do is post good content consistently and be yourself. Simple enough, right?

And remember that you can share as much or as little as you like. But don’t fall victim to its addictiveness and you should be fine!

We suggest picking 1 or 2 platforms to learn and mastering them. This way you can really focus and build your author platform as fast and authentically as possible.

If you’ve picked Facebook, then do we have good news for you! We have an extensive blog on how to ace a Facebook page for Authors.  

Top Tip #2: Using hashtags like #amwriting and #writerslife can help you connect with authors AND let readers peek into your life as a writer. 

Make connections

We’ve already spoken a lot about connections, and yes there are still MORE ways to connect.

You can join groups with like minded people, for example, Facebook groups. Facebook has tons of groups that you can join and get conversing. 

You can also use events to network and make some cool industry friends.

Also, simply showing support for another author can lead to connections. Be mindful that you shouldn’t do this to receive it from them in the future, though it can be a possibility.

With everything you do, you should do it with good intentions. People can smell inauthenticity from a mile away at times. And if they can’t, they’ll be hurt later down the line.

During events

It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people. And what better place to do that than events! Here is a list of events that you can use to build your author platform:

  • Speaking engagements: For nonfiction authors, speaking about topics you’re passionate about and impacting others is essential to building an author platform.
  • Bookstore Readings: Readers get to hear the book from the person who created it. How cool!  And you get to meet the staff that stock your books.
  • Conferences and webinars: These are great places to meet industry folks. And don’t forget to bring your business cards to hand out to those you’ve bonded with.
  • Book Signings: This shows you care about your readers. So much so that you want to meet them and give them the ol’ John Hancock. 

Get creative

Sometimes when it comes to building your author platform, you have to get creative to truly hit the spot of what represents you. Here’s some ideas that are a little more unconventional or newer to author platforms.

Agree to interviews

Okay, interviews are not really unconventional in the entertainment industry, but it can be for authors. Whether it be on the radio or TV or YouTube, interviews are a cool way to get your message to a new audience or to increase your current audience’s engagement.

Stephen King’s interview is a great example of exposure for a new book and past books. The comment section sings his praise and names their favorites from him. Which is free advertising for his work!

Write magazine articles

Having your articles in magazines shows publishers that people are interested in what you write and how you write. It, again, also gives your writing exposure to more people.

Make a Podcast

Start a podcast…or just go on one. Talking about the core concepts of your books and news that relate to your field of expertise will engage audiences.

Start a YouTube channel

Another great way to attract more people. Albeit a time-intensive venture. But it’s personable and will definitely make you stand out.

You’ll have to exert more time and effort (and some money for equipment) but, depending on the type of person you are, this can be a really fun way to build your author platform.

Join writing competitions

Joining writing competitions and WINNING them will look nice in your bio. It’ll also help with your reputation as a writer.

Become a subscriber

An author platform contains a lot of marketing elements. It could be beneficial to join some marketing email lists (like ours) and get yourself up to date with what’s working.

Want help with your author marketing? Get our FREE ebook and cheat sheet: 6 Steps To Getting More Readers.

By subscribing, you agree to get emails from me, Matt Ziranek. I’ll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time.

Be the expert

Establish yourself as an expert. If you came from a non-writing background, you could post on subject matter that puts extra value to your opinions.

David McRaney Speaking Engagement with The Harry Walker Agency

David McRaney is an excellent example. He uses psychology to discuss difficult topics and shed new light on human existence. He didn’t need a PHD to gain his expertise, but he built his platform around it well.

Do a mini photoshoot

If you’re into social media, you know pictures are important.

Take pictures of yourself at events or when you’re giving status updates. An #ootd (outfit of the day) snap wouldn’t hurt if that sounds like your speed!

Roll out the Merch

If you can get a quote from your book onto a shirt or a mug, your fans will wear it. And it’ll be like a walking billboard for your work!

The idea behind merch is to be more visible. Whether it’s to your current audience buying a cup or someone that asks, ‘Hey, where did you get that cool shirt from?’

Fan service

This is about giving back to your fans in a fun way. But it’s not about merchandise or book signings. It’s about giving the fans what they’ve been begging for in your books. Whether it’s a call-back to a popular scene or a short story of a character they’ve been fawning over. This shows that you listen to them, and it can really solidify your connection with your readers, when done right.

Top Tip #3: Only attempt fan service if you can avoid cheesy, forced content. And only do it if you know for sure that it is what the majority of fans want.

Get technical

Here’s a few techy tips to reinforce your author platform.

Monitor your efforts

Don’t forget to monitor how your author platform endeavors are doing. See how people are reacting and perceiving your platform. Then do more of what is working and less (or none) of what isn’t working.

Get automated

To level up your author platform game, you could look into tools that will help you manage your social media accounts.

You can use these tools to automate your posts over various platforms and check out insightful analytics.

Use SEO

Use Search Engine Optimisation to boost your online presence. Using SEO can help you get your author websites, blog posts and books to the first page of Google.

If people search for your book’s name, you want them to find it easily, right? SEO can help you achieve that.

Interested in learning exactly how you can do that? Check out our blog on SEO for Authors!

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

We’re well into the 2020s now and it has gotten easier and easier…to offend people.

You’ve probably treaded safely with your books but now you’ll be putting yourself front and center for others to scrutinize. So, don’t give them any ammo.

If you’re not sure if something you want to say will be offensive, check with a trusted industry friend…or maybe don’t say it at all.

The saying ‘Better to be safe than sorry’ has the ultimate applicability here.

But be true to yourself and post what feels right.

Diversify your platforms

If you’ve written in more than one genre, then it may be a good idea to have different author platforms for each so you can target the right audiences.

An alternative would be to use specific platforms for specific genres. Romance for Tumblr, nonfiction for Twitter, children’s books for Instagram. That sort of split could definitely work.

Top Tip #4: Since you’re a jack of all trades, be sure to link your relevant accounts so if someone looking for romance is on your Twitter page they know where to find what they’re looking for.

Best Way To Build a Platform as an Author

So, we’ll let you in on a little secret about building your author platform.

There is a ‘best way to build a platform as an author’. You just have to…get started!

When it comes to starting a massive task, some of us tend to procrastinate…or we’re struck by paralyzing anxiety.

But it’s alright! Many authors have wandered into the author platform realm and come out alive. You got this!

Always do your best to stay on top of what is trending in your industry, and you should be fine.

And I know I said be active online, but it’s good to take social media breaks. Just let your fans know and they’ll (for the most part) support you!

Author Platform for Fiction Writers

The above strategies will work for fiction authors too. But there are some extra ones we thought we’d whip out just for you fiction fellows:

Get a book award

This may seem like a daunting thing to achieve but if you simply submit your book for book awards then you could actually get one. It never hurts to try.

When you have an award as a fiction writer, it shines a light on you that industry professionals will be drawn to. And readers will be impressed by it too!

The cover of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doer showcases his Pulitzer’s prize quite nicely.

Endorsements

That crisp label stating that a famous author liked your work…my goodness does that look fresh!

A book is always more desirable when someone of credibility has put their stamp of approval on it.

And when a book gets the stamp, so does the author who wrote it. This can seriously launch your author platform to new heights.

You may feel nervous about asking for an endorsement, but the worst they could say is no. Create a list of people you’d like to endorse you and reach out! 

Leila Mottley’s Nightcrawling has Oprah’s golden stamp from the prestigious Book Club, as shown above. And if Oprah approves…well readers should be obliged to go out and buy it!

Show off your work

When it comes to a fiction author’s platform, a lot of the time the work speaks for itself. Let it!

Keep giving your fantastic ideas life. Write short stories, design maps, or write that prequel that’s been bouncing around in your head.

For your author website, (depending on your genre) you can give your characters new life by presenting them front and center. Or you can write content as your characters; the fans will love it!

Author Platform Examples

Here’s a few more examples of author platforms that can inspire you!

James Maxwell

James Maxwell’s Author Website

James’ author platform is proof that when it comes to fiction writers, the work should shine the brightest.

On his author website, it’s mentioned that he is a Bestselling author, putting those credentials upfront for newcomers.

And all his book series are displayed on the top tab, ushering you to what is most important.

And this website is a Rocket Expansion exclusive! But we’re totally not biased here. His website is a great contribution to James Maxwell’s author platform.

J.F Penn

J.F. Penn’s Author Website

Penn took ‘the sky’s the limit’ personally and shot for the stars instead! She has an author website, a podcast, a website for all her other work and a publishing house! Almost ran out of breath there!

The amount of effort she puts into her author platform is admirable. It shows that curating a platform that suits your ambition can propel you to the right audiences.

Susan Dennard

Susan Dennard’s Instagram Page

Susan is an example of an author rocking Instagram. She’s active, she’s fun and she’s on topic! We love what she has to offer and as we can see from her stories, she offers quite a bit!

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s Twitter Page

Roxane posts little anecdotes and stays on trends. Which is precisely how Twitter should be used!

She’s genuine, funny and unapologetically herself. She knows exactly how to use Twitter as a weapon in her author platform arsenal.

Chloe Gong

Chloe Gong’s TikTok Page

TikTok is a bit of a newer platform on the internet. And Chloe uses it well. 

She has an impressive TikTok page. She talks about her writing process and gives updates in cute informative videos.

She also responds to questions asked by fans! She’s doing an excellent job of staying relevant and connecting with her fans.

How To Keep Shining Online

We’ve discussed a truckload of strategies and tips. And if you combine the ones that speak to your authorship, you’ll have one heck of an author platform!

Your author platform is meant to shine a light on you. But you’re the one that’s running that light. You need to fuel it. This is a time-consuming exercise, but a necessary evil.

It can be quite overwhelming. But we suggest you take it one step at a time and carefully move the lighting equipment into place to keep the author platform show running.

But in our opinion, the first step to building your author platform should be an author website! We love authors and their work so we design websites that match them.

We made it our purpose to help authors shine bright online with custom, user-friendly designs that complement their individual styles. And we know we can do the same for you.

Just fill in our author website enquiry form and you’re one step closer to a solid author platform.

Want help with your author marketing? Get our FREE ebook and cheat sheet: 6 Steps To Getting More Readers.

By subscribing, you agree to get emails from me, Matt Ziranek. I’ll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time.

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