It’s a term we hear a lot: author platform.
But what is an author platform, and how do you build one?
Simply put, an author platform is any means by which you can connect with readers and sell books. And you build it. Brick by brick.
The size of an author’s platform is important to publishers, because it’s a broad indicator of how many copies of the book they might be able to sell. This influences their decision on whether they will publish the book … or not.
A book by a famous politician, sportsperson, media star or preacher? Check. A book by the son or daughter or spouse of a famous (or infamous) dead person? Check. A book by someone whose last book sold a bazillion copies and was made into a movie? Check.
Because those authors all have a platform.
A book by a new author no one has ever heard of … maybe not.
While an author platform is important for traditionally published authors, it’s vital for self-published authors. Self-published authors don’t have the marketing power or distribution networks of the big traditional publishers, which means there is no one to help. Self-published authors have to connect with readers and sell their books themselves.
And that’s where having an author platform is important.
A good author platform will achieve three aims:
1. Attract potential customers
2. Engage with potential customers
3. Convert potential customers into actual customers
Marketing gurus will tell you a potential customer needs to be exposed to something seven times before they buy. People move through several stages between first hearing about you and your books to actually buying one of your books. A well-designed platform will help them move through those stages.
This process is called a sales funnel. In Sell More Books with Less Social Media, Chris Syme outlines the six basic phases:
5. Purchase Point
6. Conversion or Sale
How Do I Build an Author Platform?
You can’t build an author platform overnight any more than you could build the pyramids overnight. You build one brick at a time, starting with:
- A website
- An email list
- Social media
I’m going to address each of these over the next few weeks—why they are important, and how they help you to attract, engage, or convert (and which is best for what).