• Margaret McGriff

What is An Author Platform?

Updated: May 17, 2020

We're talking about the author platform.

Yeah. That mysterious thing that we're supposed to have but have no idea what the heck it is. It kind of reminds me of the warp drive on Star Trek. You have no idea how the thing works, but it does. Or how the Infinity Stones is able to wipe out half the universe? Don't know how that works either, but we know it does.

That’s kind how we view the author platform is, but no worries. We're going to break this down, we're going to understand it and we're totally gonna rock it.

Let’s start with this great definition from Jane Friedman:

“The ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.”

Okay, so how do we do that? Let’s break down this definition.

The ability to sell books because of who you are

The who you are part is your brand. A strong brand tells your ideal audience who you are, what you're about, and what you offer. Your brand is reflected in everything from your website to the types of images you post on Instagram. That’s why knowing your brand as an author or editor is so important. I learned the hard way! When I published my first three books, I had no marketing plan and no kind of brand. I didn't know what my brand was and didn't even think I needed one because I was a new author. I thought only established writers or those with their own presses needed to have a brand. But that’s just not true. It wasn’t until I started working with an author branding coach that my eyes were opened to the concept of branding. Once I understood that marketing became so much easier, clearer and so much more focused.

For more on how to create a standout brand, check out this resource from Katie Phillips Creative.

Just remember that your brand isn’t something you can come up with overnight. It's always a work in progress. It's always something you’ll discover as people start reading your books or using your services, as well as when people start talking associating certain stories, tropes, etc. with you.

The ability to sell books because of who you can reach.

This speaks to how well you connect with that ideal reader and clients. They are literally the key to everything in your marketing. They are the spellbook in every wizard shop. They are the energy core in every sci-fi novel. Your marketing can’t take off until you know who you are targeting. So the ability to connect with that ideal reader is a big part of your author platform.

How do you do that? You need to know everything about them such as where they're hanging out, what books they're reading, what characters they love, what they don't like in the books they read, and the kind of covers they're coveting. You need to know all of that detailed information to see how can fit into their world.

As you may have noticed, your author platform is what you do and how the world responds to what you do. That’s why it's such a hard concept to pin down or explain. There are many moving parts and some of those parts you can control. You can't control how somebody feels about your book. You can't control how somebody talks about your services. You can only take in this information and use it to build your platform. What you can control is the strength of your author brand and how you connect with your ideal readers.

What Writers Can Do to Build Their Author Platform

What can we do when it comes to our author platform? First and foremost, the more books you have, the bigger your platform is going to be. You’ll have more stories for your readers to connect with and then talk about. Making sure your books are the best they can be is crucial to have a strong platform. You need to know and then nail down your brand, so you know how to present yourself as a wrier to the rest of the world. Connecting with your tribe is also part of building your platform, growing and creating a community of people who love what you’re about and in turn will buy your books.

The biggest takeaway about an author platform is to know that it's not something that can be created overnight. It’s the totality of all of the work we do -- from writing those to showing up online with our marketing. There are also parts of our platform we can’t control. The only thing that we can continue to do is we can continue to always put our best foot forward, be true to ourselves, and always put out our best work. And I think when you really get down to it, that's the key to having a really strong platform.

What’s one thing you can do to start building your author platform?

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© 2019 by Margaret McGriff