Go to any writer’s conference and you will hear the term “Author Platform” tossed around.
Just how important is an author platform?
I have met more than one author who felt led to write a book. These authors began to write what was on their hearts. Then they attended a writer’s conference and heard from agents and editors that they needed a platform in order to be considered for publication by a traditional publishing house.
Many of these authors went home and threw themselves into developing a platform. They worked hard on posting on social media—sharing pictures, creating memes, and posting videos. Some developed the number of followers they were looking for, others did not. Most would agree that their focus became their platform and their writing took a back seat.
A few of these authors ended up receiving contracts for their books from a traditional publishing house. Most did not. Many ended up self-publishing.
Does an author platform guarantee book sales?
Here’s the rub. Most experts agree that the number of followers on social media does not translate to book sales. In other words, there are authors who have thousands of followers on social media, but they aren’t selling thousands of books.
Social media is just that—social. Just because someone likes what you post or followers you on social media does not mean:
- That they read books.
- That they buy books.
- That they read books in your genre.
What’s the best way for an author to build a platform?
An author platform is not so much about numbers as it is about adding value. When you offer something that resonates with a group of people, they will buy what you are offering.
At a recent writer’s conference, I met a gentleman who told me that his wife has been battling cancer for the past decade. During this time, she has written a gratitude blog. The purpose of the blog was twofold. She wanted to remind herself to be grateful in the midst of her suffering, and she wanted to encourage others to count their blessings no matter what they are going through.
An editor at a Christian publishing house discovered her blog through social media. She began to read the posts. The result was that the editor offered this woman a book deal. Why? Because this woman was sharing a message that people desperately need.
Instead of trying to win as many followers as you can on social media to build your platform, focus on your message. Write what is on your heart. If it resonates with people, they will read it and come back for more.
By the way, I will be presenting Three Things to Do Before You Publish at the Write Stuff Conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, March 14. If you live in the area, I invite you to sign up for the conference.
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Photos courtesy of Hugo Ataide and John Hain.