Book Marketing: an author’s
greatest dream and simultaneously greatest nightmare. But book marketing is essential if you ever
want your writing to be read. And in order for you to be marketable both to potential publishers
and to future readers, you will need a platform. A place to present yourself and your book to the world.
Nowadays, the most common marketing platform used by authors is social media. This means that you, the author, must be willing to create an online image to promote yourself. After all, the moment you finally enter the publishing sphere, you will become a public figure. There is no escaping this fact. So, it's beneficial to start building an online platform early, even before you've landed your first book contract. However, building a platform takes time and can honestly be very intimidating. But, here are five tips I’ve found that can help you on your quest to build a solid online platform.
1) Make your presence readily available online. This starts with asking the question: how do I want to market myself? Once you have a general idea, then choose which social media platform you'd like to focus on the most. Begin to build up your online public image, complete with current photos of yourself, your passions, hobbies, updates on you works-in-progress, etc. Make your identity clearly known. Publishers and readers are more likely to trust an author that they can connect a face to. And, if you can be easily found, it makes you seem more approachable too, which can help establish a connection and a sense of trust both with a publisher and with your future reader-base.
2) Be genuine. The most enjoyable authors to follow and interact with on any social platform are the ones who are genuinely passionate about what they post. So, don’t be afraid to share your passions. Is it knitting? Collecting tiny squirrel figurines? Cross-country skiing? Painting abstract portraits of rescue dogs? Bring it into your posts. The more of your passions that you incorporate into your platform, the more you'll be able to connect with your readers.
3) Keep it professional. Professionalism is huge, especially from a marketing and publishing standpoint. Now, I’m not saying you absolutely must use formal speech or perfect grammar in all of your online interactions. I’m honestly a huge proponent of the benefits of using emojis, online jargon, and expressive spelling to bring more of your personality and emotion into an otherwise emotionless medium. However, remember this: online words are forever. Even if someone else is at fault, avoid getting involved in commenting or messaging wars. One of the fastest ways to destroy a platform is to get caught up in an online argument with someone else who could easily screenshot your conversation and share it all across the internet. Even if you want to defend yourself, it’s always wiser not to get involved in an online fight, because any words you write could be used against you later. Always think before you post, keep your audience and target publishers in mind, and when in doubt, block. There’s no shame in using blocking to protect yourself, especially if someone might be trying to bait you. In the end, it’s always wiser to err on the side of caution when navigating an online climate.
4) Separate your private life from your public life. This is especially essential from a mental health perspective. If you pour too much of your private life into your public sphere, you run the risk of having the things that are precious and valuable to you be run through the mud. Because there will always be someone out there looking to criticize your life, simply because you are a public figure. So, what I recommend is finding a way to separate the critiques and harsh statements of others from your own personal identity. If your self-worth and identity are not founded in your platform, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to navigate the rough seas of being a published author. So, identify the things most precious to you, the core of who you are, and keep it safe. Keep it separate. Because ultimately your identity is not your platform or public image, and your self-worth does not come from what others think of you. And finding a balance between time for yourself and time for your platform will ultimately help you to grow into a healthy, marketable author.
5) Network, network, network. Finally, and most importantly, connect with others. Be willing to read other authors books. Post reviews. Participate in large giveaways. Promote other authors in their successes. Support each other. This is one of the best ways an indie author can grow, because when you network, you can find “your people.” The group of wonderful, like-minded authors and readers who, through mutual support and kindness, can help each other to grow to the next level.
These are just five components that I believe are key to building a successful public platform. What are some of your tips from your own experience in building an online platform?