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How To Build An Author Platform

From identifying your brand to social media, here are a few tips on how to build an author platform. Many publishers consider a strong author platform a plus when considering submissions and query letters from writers, and following these tips might help you build a platform that will gain attention.

Why Build an Author Platform?

To put it simply: numbers matter. Publishers want to take advantage of promotion opportunities, and having an established author platform is a great way to promote books! Basically, building an author platform means you are building your community of followers who will support and be interested in your work (and that of your potential publisher).

The Basics of Author Platform

Your Brand

An author brand is how you identify yourself to potential and existing readers, publishers, and the world. It’s what makes you unique and how people recognize you.

Identify Your brand

Developing a brand identity can take some time, and your brand can grow and change over the course of your career, but you can start by asking yourself some key questions:

What do you write?

  • Books

  • Comics

  • Graphic novels

  • Essays

  • Short stories

What genre do you write?

  • Fantasy

  • Fiction

  • Historical

  • Christian

  • Self-help

  • Memoir/biography

  • Romance

  • Detective

Who do you write for?

  • Children

  • Middle graders

  • Young adults

  • Adults

  • LGBTQ+ readers

  • BIPOC readers

Figure out which categories of author you fall into and the expectations of those categories, then brand yourself accordingly.

What does this mean? If you are a children’s author, be sure the content you put out into the world is friendly to young readers and those who purchase books for kids. For example, you might want to stay away from promoting booze and gambling (or such things) on social media and your website as they would certainly go against what your target audience would expect from a children’s author.

However, you might want to promote children’s reading festivals and kids’ choice book awards as they fit as these would align with your audience’s expectations and values, while demonstrating your commitment to children’s literature.

Your author brand is the shorthand by which your audience identifies you. It is your reputation. For example, Eric Carle (author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar) was known for simple words and vibrant colours. He wasn’t known or celebrated for promoting beer or dieting.

Your Bio

Your bio is one way people will get to know you. Use different author bios in different situations. Shorter biographies are great for end-notes to articles (on-line and in print), while longer biographies might work for query letters. Here are some guidelines:

  • Social media bio (280 characters or less)

  • One paragraph bio (short, sweet, concise)

  • Two paragraph bio (bio + publishing credits)

Your Website

Your website is a one-stop-shop for all things about you, and likely the online platform where you have the most control of content and design. Having one means readers, reviewers, and publishers can find information about you without having to sort through pages of social media or Google results.

There are many easy, free, tools like Wordpress, Wix, and Blogger available for creating websites. Many are drag-n-drop enabled so you don’t need to learn complex code. You can also opt to get your own domain name, which helps with your branding. Then when people put in your name, your own domain website will come up in results.

Remember to include these pages in your website:

  • Home page (with a welcome message)

  • Gallery of your book covers and where readers can purchase them

  • Reviews

  • About Me (use a bio!)

  • Contact Me (for feedback, speaker opportunities, virtual visits)

And be sure to keep your website up to date.

Your Presence

Having a presence in the communities you belong to means that people can keep up with you even when you’re between books. Here are some ways you can maintain a presence:

Write and Publish Online and In Print

Publishing articles, blog posts, and stories earns you writing credentials and can be a great opportunity for cross-promotion. Also, Google likes it when outside websites link to your own website, so if you write an article for the Huffington Post website and include a link to your website in the bio that goes with the article, you'll get better SEO for your website (which will help you rank higher in search results). The endnotes to articles is also a great place to add your social media accounts so people who read (and love) your writing can connect with you.

Build and Maintain Social Media Accounts

Social media is a great corner of the internet to connect with colleagues, publishers, festivals, and potential readers. Ask questions. Answer questions. Support your community. Social media can build your reputation as an author in your niche and also show you are a team player when it comes to book promotion.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing social media platforms:

  • Twitter (a natural for authors as it is all text based)

  • Facebook (personal and business pages)

  • Instagram (good for behind-the-scenes pictures of how you work)

  • Tik Tok (only if you enjoy making videos)

  • Youtube (again - you need to be comfortable in front of the camera)

But just because you have options, doesn't mean you have to be on every social media platform. You should choose which platform(s) you are most comfortable with and go with those. It’s better to be consistent on one or two social media platforms rather than post rarely on all of them.

Participate In Events

Whether online or in person, participating in events can give you the opportunity to network, show your support for causes or communities, and hopefully have fun. Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer in writing community groups

  • Attend industry events

  • Help promote fellow author’s book launches

If you are interested in query tips from a publisher, you might also be interested in 39 Tips for Writing Children's Books (KidLit).

Follow for more children’s publishing tips!

Common Deer Press

Facebook: @commondeerpress

Twitter: @commondeerpress

Instagram: commondeer_press

Youtube: Common Deer Press

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