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No matter if you’re published or unpublished, the idea of setting up an author platform from scratch can be really daunting.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.
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.