It’s one of the number one questions that emerging authors ask: “How do I build an author platform before my book is published?”
Followed closely by: “And why do I need to?”
Before I dive into this, I need to say this upfront: Always focus on writing the book first. The book is the key to it all. If you have very limited time and you haven’t completed a first draft, write the book.
That said, you can do both. Your author platform may not be your priority right now, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be present. It takes a lot less time than you might think to establish an author platform and start to expand it.
What is an author platform?
Your author platform is about building your profile and creating a brand for yourself. It’s about creating a solid community, full of people who are interested in you, your work and what you have to say.
Yes, it gives you an opportunity to showcase your books when they arrive, but it’s also about creating other opportunities for yourself as a writer AND sharing the work of others.
It’s about building a place for yourself within the writing and publishing world.
Where to begin when you don’t have a book (yet)
The best author platforms are those with solid communities wrapped around them. And that takes time. If you wait until your book is about to launch before you begin, you’ve waited too long.\
Instead, you’re aiming to put the social in social media, and build support one relationship at a time.
There are many components to an author platform, beginning with your website, which is your home on the internet. In the early days, that may be as simple as a single page to hold your space (if you haven’t purchased your author URL yet, go and do it now – this post will still be here when you get back).
For everything you need to know about the different components of your author website, check out the Your Author Website course.
But social media can be the first place many new authors go to make connections – and then they come up against the ‘what do I post?’ question. I’ve got five tips to help you decide what to put on your shiny new author social media accounts.
1. Don’t just observe, engage
My first advice is always to follow authors you admire on social media. Search for them on all the different platforms to find out where they’re spending most of their time. Watch what they do. But, also, engage with the content that really speaks to you – comment on it, create a relationship. And then go away and think about why that particular content stopped you from scrolling mindlessly past.
2. Pick your persona
When you’re deciding what to post about to build your author profile, think about the book you’re writing – and then take it off the page. If you’re writing rural romances set in small towns, for instance, think about how you can incorporate key aspects of that into your daily life.
You could post about other rural romances you’re reading. You could share your garden (if you’re a gardener) or your daily walk in the country (if you live there). You don’t have to post incessantly about writing, but it’s a good idea to include it sometimes so that people can see you’re a writer!
3. You don’t have to share everything
Choose four or five areas of your life that you’re happy to share – things that will help your audience get to know you as an author. This is you curating and creating an author brand for yourself, so brainstorm the five things you want people to think of immediately when they hear your name. And, remember, these things are not set in stone – they’ll shift and develop as your career grows.
4. You don’t have to be everywhere
One thing you’ll discover when you look for the authors you love is that they’re not on every platform. Chances are they’ve tried a few different ones over the years, and then stayed in the places they’re most comfortable. Pick one social media platform to begin with and see how you like it. The best platform for you to begin with as a creator is the one where you’re spending the most time as a consumer.
5. This is supposed to be fun
The best thing about any social media platform is that it’s, well, social. It’s about you bringing together a group of like-minded people who are interested in you and will be interested when you announce your publishing deal! If you post about the things that interest you, that are relevant to you and that feel natural to you, chances are it won’t feel like hard work at all. Best of all, once it’s established, it won’t take much time at all – leaving you more time to focus on writing the next book.
Allison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al is currently editing her latest middle-grade novel The First Summer of Callie McGee. Find out more about her at allisontait.com.