After going through a Twitter exchange between some experienced and published writers on the above topic, I did a little research and decided to pen down a few tips.
According to masterclass.com an Author Platform can be defined as a writer’s ability to market their work, using their overall visibility to reach a target audience of potential readers. A writer’s platform might include the reach of their social media accounts, the connections they have with other published authors or literary influencers, and the writer’s relationship with media outlets.
This concept is not entirely new but because it is increasingly important in a writer’s career, many think of it as new.
Question: What important thing about book publishing should most readers and aspiring authors strive to understand?
Most readers and aspiring authors should endeavour to understand that;
An author’s platform size is often of greater importance than the author’s writing quality. As unpleasant as that may sound, it is the truth for the world currently we live in.
However, it must be pointed out that this is largely from the traditional publishing perspective. Electronic media really revolutionized the way we do everything including writing and publishing. Yet, traditional publishers will always assess the size and elements that make up an author’s platform as well as the product when considering new authors.
The reason isn’t far-fetched. It’s still a business at the end of the day so the unknown guy with a masterpiece will likely be snubbed for a B-list celeb who already has a reality TV show or an OAP with a few hundred thousand social media followers. Oh yea, it is what it is. We have read about how best-selling works got rejected. This isn’t rocket science, it is simply because oftentimes rejections are not about how good your book is, or whether it should even be published. Rather it’s about editorial boards weighing the profitability of investing in that venture.
So the question begs; what platform size should a would-be author establish before writing/publishing a book?
Well, there may not be a unanimous agreement on platform size but the dominant perception is that the more fans and followers you have on social networks, the higher likelihood you have of actually selling something. This is understandable as it has always been the popular maxim in marketing. However, this perception may just be another example of “the million follower fallacy” as things are not really that straightforward especially with regard to selling books.
In 2009, researchers showed that large numbers of followers on social networks did not always equate to “influence,” or sales. They suggested that greater influence is often associated with social networkers whose:
- status updates got shared
- mentions were greater
The researchers concluded that “influence is not gained spontaneously or accidentally but through concerted effort. In order to gain and maintain influence, users need to keep great personal involvement.” (To read this study, click here.)
Take note that this means you need to work tenaciously at building a platform. There are no shortcuts but then with the right information combined with working smartly, you can reduce the workload and duration for achieving a sizeable platform.
Digital media offers a workable pathway. With an aggressive strategy and the right promotion plan, you can quickly build a growing audience to overcome the author platform problem. Many social media apps especially Twitter can be utilized for this and you can take a look here to get an idea of the steps that will help you build an active followership/author platform. You can also check here to become successful in creating worthwhile content.
There are many other resources that will help you build your platform as a writer or creator, however, to become a brand you will need to be;
- Consistent: Bestselling author and writing coach Julia Cameron recommend two simple tools. Morning Pages and Artist Dates, you will do well to look them up.
And you will need to;
2. Cooperate: Sharing and posting stuff, especially your own content is good but it is even better when you engage your readers/followers as you would do in a cafe. Yes, the internet is now the public sphere so you don’t just want to be heard, you also need to listen. That way you work together as a team towards meeting various targets.
So an author’s platform is like a vehicle that will convey you to that destination where publishers will agree that you will be a worthwhile investment, that your work will likely sell thousands of copies. And that is why you need to keep growing your platform, one day at a time.