The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – Part 1

With a glazed look on my face, I obediently handed my phone over to “the expert” sitting beside me. As she looked up my twitter account which had an oval egg shape for my picture, I couldn’t help feeling intimidated by the task of building an author platform.

I had spent my entire life serving in pastoral ministry. When social media first came on the scene, I was suspect of the enemy’s evil intent to use the media to entrap our children.

Now here I was, listening to Michael Hyatt talk about the power and necessity of every author building a platform to launch their book. Much of what he was saying went over myplatform head. Yet as I listened for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to guide me, I simply heard this word: engage.

As I engaged in the social media platform beginning that day two years ago, I grew from 4 twitter followers to over 21,000. I joined the social conversation and found a whole new world of influence.

Since my first book, 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom, hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Christian Women’s Issues, I regularly have authors seeking my advice on how to build their own platforms.

Let’s Begin at the Beginning

Watch Michael Hyatt’s simple video on Platform Building.

1. Start with a Blog

Begin to build a following. Give people an opportunity to get to know your heart. Use your blog as a spring board to all of your other social media engagement.

If you are an author of a number of books, you are probably your brand. You may write on a number of blogs. A foundational part of your strategy is your own blog where you can share your passion and build a loyal following. I chose to use my own name for my primary blog at SueDetweiler.com.

2. Develop a Social Media Strategy

You are unique. Social media needs to work for you. As you begin to see the power of social media, use these principles as a guide: 12-28-14 Social Media

  • Use Time Management Tools
  • Link Social Media Posts
  • Strategically Post Throughout the Day

The key to social media is to see it as an ongoing conversation with a friend. You are sharing about all the things that you care about. People who read your tweets will know what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to share your personal story and pictures. Provide your tribe with ongoing helpful resources.

3. Be Real

Don’t try to appear to be anyone else than who you truly are. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, one of the ways that people will be drawn to you is when they sense you are transparent. Don’t try to be Barbie or Ken; just be who God made you to be. Let your quirks come through in your social media platform.

Don’t be tripped up by your own perfectionism and fail to launch into a new thing. Allow yourself the freedom to try something new. Stoke the fires of your own adventurous spirit.

4. Use Video

Video can be really simple. The technology on your smart phone will allow you to do video in minutes. As an author, you can use the power of video to sell your book. Here’s a simple book trailer that was created for me on Fiverr.com. Video doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to be effective in telling your story.

I also used simple video introductions of each chapter of my book as an additionalbuilding your author platform resource. At the end of each chapter a simple code invites the readers to watch the video or download a printable of written prayers that enhance each chapter.

5. A Gateway to Traditional Media

As you build your platform as an author, others will become excited about your message and help get the word out about your book. Build relationships with other authors, radio hosts, and television hosts. Two events that I think are helpful to connect authors to traditional media are National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). There may be other events that your publisher encourages you to attend to build relationships with the media.

Next Week

We are just scratching the surface of things that you can do to build your platform as an author. Join me here at The WordServeWaterCooler for part 2 of The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform.

Also connect with me on social media! Let’s start a conversation. Let me know if there is any way I can help you get your message out.

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Why Ignoring Your Author Brand is Career Suicide

Have you heard the term branding? Does it make you want to reach for the remote and turn the channel? If so, you’re not alone. Author branding has a lot of writers confused. It did me.Why Ignoring Your Author Brand is Career Suicide

I first thought author branding was something your publisher did for you when your first books came out. Then, I thought it was a cool author tag line or slogan. And while part of both the previous statements are true, they’re not your author brand.

Knowing your author brand will help you promote yourself before, during, and after your book releases. Your author tag line is what evolves from your brand, not the other way around.

What is an author brand? An author brand is the unique combination of personality and passion you bring to products or services based on your actual or potential abilities. Your author brand won’t look like anyone else’s, because no one else has your insights and perspective to offer to the world.

Why do I need an author brand? Knowing your author brand lets readers, agents, and publishers know immediately what they’re going to receive from you and your writing. In this fast paced world, people won’t take the time to dig through the many books, websites, and blogs to find what they’re looking for. If it isn’t apparent immediately, they’ll move on.

Think about your favorite authors. You know exactly what you’re going to get from their books. It’s the reason you purchase their newest release, read their newsletters, and like their Facebook pages. They deliver on the promise of their brands.

But, I don’t need to develop my author brand until I have a book contract. Wrong. You’re already branding if you have a website, blog, or are on social media sites. Every post, tweet, and blog post is a reflection of you and your brand, even if you don’t know it.  It’s important to understand your brand from the moment you declare yourself a writer.

Your brand will help you develop your website, book proposals, manuscripts, articles, and newsletter. It will help you focus and go deeper in order to reach your audience better. It’s something you should embrace and not put off a minute longer.

Your brand will also aid you when creating visual images for your website and social media pages. For example, my author tagline (developed from my brand), is Inspiring Your Faith and Pioneer Roots. I created this image for my author Facebook page this past week. Branded Facebook Cover for Melissa K. Norris

Do you see how the pioneer roots is enhanced not only in the images, but also ties into the title and cover of my non-fiction book, Pioneering Today? The cabin picture also works for the historical fiction portion of my writing. Your brand should be an umbrella for all you do.

Developing your author brand isn’t something we can completely cover in one blog post, but don’t worry. I’m not giving you this admonishment and leaving you alone. My agency sister and business partner, Janalyn Voigt, and I have created a FREE author branding workbook to walk you through the steps. You can snag your copy at TriLink Social Media Mentors.

What are some of your favorite authors? Can you identify what their brand is, or the promise they always make with their work? What is unique about you and your writing?