Monday, March 26, 2018

Establishing an Author Platform



By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig 

No matter if you’re published or unpublished, the idea of setting up an author platform from scratch can be really daunting.  It’s important to realize that establishing a platform and promoting a book is a marathon, not a sprint. 

If you’re not published (either traditionally or self-published):

Spend most of your time working on your book.  If you’re in a time-crunch and need to make the choice between setting up a platform or writing your book, you should be writing.

However, if you can spare the time … say fifteen minutes at a time … for establishing a platform, I’d encourage you to set up the basics.  Breaking these tasks into increments will help get them knocked out without ending up with a time suck.

Getting started: 

Have an email address for your writing business.  This should be your name and an email just for you.  You can get free emails from Gmail and from Microsoft, among other providers.

Set up a basic website, to create an online hub for you and your books. It’s a first step to being visible online. This website should be in your name, not the book’s title (you may write other books).  You can get free websites through WordPress (and can later transfer to a paid WordPress site, if warranted).  

The website should list a way to contact you (your email address, your social media addresses), your name, a little bit about you and the types of books you’re planning on writing.  If you have the time, you could blog once a week or every two weeks on this site, to bring in traffic and search engine attention.  More on what to blog about in this post by industry expert Jane Friedman: “What Should Authors Blog About?”.  Set up your blog to automatically post to Facebook or Twitter, if you’re there. 

It may seem silly to have a newsletter signup when you don’t yet have a book or readers, but the earlier you start, the better. MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. 

Social media.  This is where you’ll want to pace yourself.  It’s fine to sign up on all the social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), but only to reserve your name on these sites.  Later, you can find which one or two appeal most to you.  There’s no point in trying to post on a platform that you don’t enjoy because you’ll struggle to keep up with it. 

Again, sign up for these accounts with your name, not your book’s title.  Be sure not to spread yourself too thin—it’s very difficult to keep up with more than two social media accounts.  Use free tools like Hootsuite to schedule updates, if you’re pressed for time.

If you’re published:

All of the above, plus:

Amazon Author Central.  It’s important to set up your author page on Amazon.  When someone clicks your name next to your book’s title, it will take them to your page and show them all of your books in one place. You can add your bio, video content, connect your blog feed, and include photos. What’s more, you can use this portal to add editorial reviews to your book’s product page and check sales stats.
 
Do you have any other advice for setting up an author platform? What’s your favorite social media platform for connecting with readers? 

Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, Memphis Barbeque mysteries, and Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. You can find her at Elizabethspanncraig.com . Elizabeth shares writing links on Twitter that later make it to the free search engine for writers, writerskb.com. 

37 comments:

nashvillecats2 said...

Very good tips Alex, which any writer should adhere to.
Yvonne.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for hosting me here today, Alex!

Yvonne, sometimes it's easier said than done, but doing a little at a time can work well. Have a great week!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for writing such a great article for us, Elizabeth!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LOL - yes, pace yourself with social media. You can't manage 25 at once. Believe me, I tried.

Margot Kinberg said...

Such good ideas, Elizabeth. People can't find out about your books as easily if they can't find you. And it does give you a way to interact with potential readers, so that when the work does come out, it's easier to let everyone know.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Alex--Happy to be here!

Diane--I tried, too! It didn't work. :)

Margot--It's so important to be visible these days!

Christine Rains said...

Excellent tips! I like the added advice to sign up to social media with your name and not the book's title. Sometimes I'm not certain if I'm interacting with an author or that author's characters!

Heather M. Gardner said...

Great info. Simple steps, too.
Heather

The Cynical Sailor said...

Thanks for the tips, Elizabeth. I have to confess, while I've ticked off most of the items you list, a newsletter isn't something I've set up. I've been seeing mixed views lately on whether or not newsletters are essential. How important do you (and others on here) think newsletters are? Is it something I can hold off setting up until later down the road?

Thanks - Ellen | ellenjacobsonauthor.com

Joel D Canfield said...

Ellen, in our social media consulting business we consider a newsletter absolutely critical. Tim Grahl, book launch guru, says the same thing: the money's in the list.

I hear this question so often I made a 1-minute video explaining why every author needs a newsletter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-Ng-UcOgOQ

joel

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elizabeth and Alex - this is great and just what I need right now to get going - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks Christine! And that is an easy trap to fall into. I think writers can be so focused on promoting the one book, that they forget to promote themselves instead of the novel!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for coming by, Heather!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Ellen, I will agree with Joel, below. I started mine too late and I'm still playing catch-up. Gathering subscribers early is a great idea and will save you headaches later on. Good luck!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for the link, Joel!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck with it Hilary!

Juneta Key said...

Great tips.

cleemckenzie said...

It takes a lot of organization and time to set yourself up as an author. You've outlined some essential steps. Thanks.

Chemist Ken said...

Here's a question. I already have a Facebook profile page, but I want a separate page for me as an author. Is it better to have a fan page or a group page?

Thanks in advance!

Ken

Lexa Cain said...

This is a great how-to for authors!! (Now I literally have to re-learn how to do all this...)

Joel D Canfield said...

Ken, I wasn't sure myself so I asked my wife, who is more up to date on what's what on Facebook. Here's what she said:

I would recommend a fan page first and then a group can be done off of a fan page if he felt that was what he wanted. Here's a link to Facebook's info on fan page versus group: https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook/facebook-tips-whats-the-difference-between-a-facebook-page-and-group/324706977130/

and then this article by Andrea Vahl: https://www.andreavahl.com/facebook/should-i-have-a-facebook-page-or-a-facebook-group-for-my-business.php

Pat Hatt said...

Very true indeed. People sign up for everything and then try to do everything at once and get burned out. Better to focus on one or two social media accounts and then go from there.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Juneta--Thanks! Hope they help
Lee--It does take both! Once you're set up, though, it's much less time-consuming.
Ken--That's a good question. The way the FB algorithm is working now, pages are getting less view-time unless the page is buying ads. But I think having a page is still worth it and then spinning the group off the page. More on pages vs groups (groups require more engagement) here: https://createifwriting.com/how-to-create-a-facebook-group/
Lexa--Good luck with it! I'm sure you'll do great.
Joel--Thanks for the links!
Pat--It's easy to get burned out. One or two social media platforms is really all you need. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Great tips Elizabeth!
Social media can take so much time - so smart to limit it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jemi--I try to stick with my timers. I'm frequently surprised when the timer goes off! Social media really is a time suck.

Sherry Ellis said...

Good tips! But you really have to pace yourself when it comes to social media. It's easy to spend too much time on those platforms. I still haven't started an author newsletter. Mostly because I have no idea what I could write about. Maybe I should work on that.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Author newsletters are especially important for promoting releases, but you could also do things to connect with readers...share what books you're reading, share a favorite family recipe, share pictures of the cat or dog--whatever might help you form a connection. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great tips! I definitely overloaded myself for a while with various platforms. I still have them, but I pay attention to specific ones.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Tyrean--It's so easy to do! At least you've reserved your name on the platforms, even if you're not active there. :)

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Such excellent advice, Elizabeth. I've shared it online. I've got to find more time and knowledge to be able to do all this.

I believe I'm connected with you in social media as I've read some of your Clover mysteries. They are great! I'll check and be sure I've hit everything.
http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

Spacer Guy said...

Amazon is a great place to launch a book from - Its got everything to kickstart beginners into high gear and that means sales, right? When I look at the competition I ask myself, why aren't I doing this?

Jen Chandler said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips, Elizabeth. I've struggled with the whole "platform vs. writing" issue and it's so refreshing to hear what I've been telling myself all along: work on the book FIRST!!

This is a wonderful break down of what can be used to get a book into the world. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jen

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Victoria--Thanks so much! I appreciate it. :)

Spacer Guy--I know what you mean! They made self-publishing easy.

Jen--The book is the most important thing! Thanks so much for coming by.

Michelle Wallace said...

Some wonderful info!
I wonder what's more effective in building a platform - an email list or newsletter?

Joel D Canfield said...

Michelle, they're one and the same. Your email list are the people who sign up for your newsletter.

And it IS, according to every marketing expert I trust (including my wife) the single most important marketing tool an author has.

Kali Delamagente said...

Good starters. These are the basics, as you say. There's lots more we-authors could do but this is a great start.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Kali--We have to start somewhere, right? Hope you have a great week and thanks for coming by!