Marketing 101: Setting Up An Author Platform

Some writers don’t always realize it, but marketing is a big aspect of publishing a story. You can write it, edit it, and have the perfect novel, but if you can’t get it out there, than it’ll never sell. Marketing is a key part of creating your novel. Not only does it boost sales, but by advertising your own personal brand, you establish a presence in the market and draw the attention of agents. Sometimes you have a marketing team to help you along the way. Sometimes you only have yourself. Here are some tips for establishing your author platform and creating a solid, marketable brand.

Know Your Target

The first thing to understand before you go into anything is that you need to know your target audience. If you’re a fantasy author, you wouldn’t be advertising to a mystery fan. If you write erotica, than you wouldn’t post your story in a literary magazine geared towards young adults. Realizing your demographic will help you build a solid marketing plan.

 

Creating a Solid Product

Make sure you have a product to sell. In this case, it’s both your book and your self. That means that you want to monitor your P’s and Q’s. Agents and fans notice if you make waves, and it never bodes well. That whole, any publicity is good publicity, thing? Yeah, that doesn’t apply to you. Agents will share with other agents if an author is hard to work with. They check your networking sites and Google your name, so if you’ve made a post about how you hate This Publishing House or how This Agent is such a big biotch, then they probably won’t want to take you on. Not only create a great story, but also make sure you’re being the best you that you can be.

Create a Budget

While you can do some marketing for free (such as social network sites), you will need to budget for other marketing factors. Take into consideration all that you want to do and set up a fund for that. Do you want to host a website? That’ll have a fee. Want to travel to conferences? Those can get pricy. Want to host giveaways or go on a blog tour? Establish an account and make sure you have money squirreled away for all your expenses.

*Save all your receipts. Any expenses you make on marketing, from travel to buying toner, can be deducted from your taxes. For more info on taxes for writers, check out my previous post.

 

Have a Plan

So the first thing you want to do (after recognizing your target), is to establish a plan of action. Just jumping into the whole process can be slightly overwhelming. Take a moment to sit down and consider everything you want to do, what you want to get out of it, how much time you have to dedicate to building your platform, and what you can do. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. Write out a list, make notes, and keep organized.

Here is a strong plan of action for a published author to create an author platform:

  1. Establish an online presence*
    1. Create a website
    2. Create a blog
    3. Social networking
  2. Provide benefits
  3. Solicit reviews
  4. Interact with fans
  5. Hold a blog tour/book tour
  6. Host a giveaway
  7. Advertisement
  8. Go to conferences and network with other authors

*This step is important, even for an unpublished author. Creating an online presence will help get you noticed by an agent, and also show that you’re willing to put in some leg work.

 

Here is a breakdown of each step.

Establishing an Online Presence 

There are three parts to building your presence, and each one is equal important. The key isn’t how much you have, but the quality of what you provide.

Setting up a website will provide fans and potential agents a place to read up on your work, learn more about you, and see what’s going on with future works.

A blog allows you to interact with fans. You don’t necessarily need a blog, but it’s always beneficial. Blogs all you to provide helpful tips, go into more detail on your life, and provide things like excerpts.

Social networking is a major factor in establishing a platform. You don’t have to do all the social networking sites, but select two or three and focus on those. Create a Twitter handle. Open a Tumblr (which could double as your blog). Set up a Facebook fan page for your fans to like. Establish your Amazon Author or Goodreads page. There are lots of sites out there (Youtube, Tsu, Linkdin, etc.), so there’s plenty to work with. My top recommendation is to create a Goodreads account, and then one or two additional.

 

Benefits for being a Fan

You want to keep your fans coming back to your website, blog, or social networking page. How do you do that? Well, not by constantly bombarding them with advertisements. Nothing is more annoying than a stream of “BUY MY BOOK” on your Twitter feed. Instead offer fans some kind of incentive. Create a monthly newsletter for your website. Create art or offer free stories. On your blog, provide advice and contests. Post pictures, excerpts, and character bios on your social networking pages. It doesn’t have to be much, but by giving something back to the fans, you’ll create loyal and reoccurring readers.

Solicit Reviews – A Call to Action

Reviews are going to be your best friend when it comes to boosting sales. Nothing benefits a book more than word of mouth. Check with book blogs and see if they offer reviews. Send some freebies out. Thank fans for purchasing your book and request that they post a review on Goodreads or Amazon when they finish. Motivate people to review your work.

Keep in mind, though, that when you ask someone to review, they’ll be putting their honest opinion out there. It may not always be good, but that’s okay. The point is to get people reading and talking.

Interact With Fans 

Interacting with fans is important. Make sure that you do it maturely and responsibly. Thank them for their reviews (even if they aren’t always positive). Respond to e-mails and comments. Offer to answer questions. Utilize social networking sites to establish ties with your fans. If someone comments on your Facebook page, make sure you follow up with them. Surf forums. Offer things such as contests and giveaways. There is a lot for you to do with your fans, so get out there and start socializing!

Take the Road! 

Whether it’s an online blog tour or a road trip along the East Coast, make sure you try a tour. Blog tours are excellent for self-published or e-published authors. There are tons of promotion companies out there that specialize in blog tours. If you can’t afford a tour, surf author forums where book blogs may offer spots, or contact book blogs yourself and see if they have any openings. If you want to actually get out there physically and set up a book tour, contact local book stores and see what opportunities they provide.

Give it All Away 

Giveaways are great for generating buzz. Have a new release coming out? Set up a giveaway on Goodreads or your blog. Offer older books or your new release. People will read about the book, enter, and be interested. Even if they don’t win, they may still go out and buy your book. If you pair a giveaway with a blog tour, you’re definitely going to make a splash!

Advertisement 

Sometimes you can purchase advertisement spots. While these can get pricey (so not everyone may be able to do it), it can still be beneficial. You have to spend a little to make a little, right? Recognize what’s in your budget and see what you can afford. If you can’t afford doing it, don’t feel bad. This won’t make or break you, but it’ll definitely help. Sites like The Romantic Review, All Romance, and Romantic Times, offer advertisement rates. Some private book blogs may also offer spots (at cheaper rates). Do a little research and see what you can find.

Conferences 

Conferences are a great way to meet agents and other authors. There are thousands of conferences each year, all over the world. Look into some that are relevant to your genre and see what you can afford. Conferences can be a single day, to a three day extravaganza. They can also range anywhere from $80 up to $500 in registration fare, plus any travel expenses. Conferences are something you should establish a budget for and plan in advance.

Take all these steps into consideration, and you can set up a bullet proof marketing plan.

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