Just How Important Is an Author Platform?

Go to any writer’s conference and you will hear the term “Author Platform” tossed around.

Just how important is an author platform?

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.

Related Posts:
Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?
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Photos courtesy of Hugo Ataide and John Hain.

Author: Are You Doing These Marketing Activities?

I sometimes run into aspiring authors who tell me that they will only consider a traditional book contract for their manuscript. I have no problem with this mindset. I understand that desire to have a book accepted after being vetted by an editor.

Are you doing these marketing activities?

However, some of these authors are holding onto the ideal of a traditional book contract because they believe that the publisher will market the book for them. They like the idea of just writing.

The truth is that authors—whether traditionally published or indie published—are largely responsible for the marketing of their books. In fact, one royalty-paying, Christian publisher states right on their website their expectations of authors. Here is what this publisher says:

Author must:

  • Have created a fully developed marketing plan.
  • Keep a web presence.
  • Be technology savvy.
  • Know how to copy and paste URLs.
  • Can search the web for answers and solutions.
  • Check email daily.
  • Participate in book promotions.
  • Reach out to fan base.
  • Never, ever give up the book!

These expectations are not unreasonable. If you are an indie published author, at the least, you should already be doing these things for your book—especially the last one.

Sadly, I often see indie published authors give up on their books too soon. Book marketing is long-haul trucking. You have to be in it for the long haul to see success.

In addition to the author expectations, this traditional, royalty-paying publisher listed what they would do to market each author’s book. Here is what this publisher says they will do:

Publisher will:

  • Advertise the book with Amazon ads and Goodreads ads.
  • Provide digital Advance Review Copies through BookFunnel.
  • Offer Rafflecopter giveaways of print and digital copies.
  • Submit your book for review to Publishers Weekly.
  • Offer the Kindle version of the book for FREE or 99 cents with Kindle Select promotions.

Trade Show Floor

To be honest, I don’t think this is much marketing support. I don’t see anything about providing the following marketing activities:

  • Press Release
  • Author Media Kit
  • List of Radio and Podcast Show Interviewing Authors
  • Trade Show Representation
  • Foreign Rights Representation

If you are a self-published author, then you wear both the author and the publisher hat. This means that these additional publisher duties for marketing fall under your jurisdiction. Ask yourself: Am I doing all these marketing activities for my book?

If you are an Indie author and you need support in marketing your book, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is here to help you. We provide support and information for marketing your book including reference guides for creating press releases and media kits, a list of radio and podcast shows that interview authors, and numerous cooperative marketing opportunities. Join today at www.christianpublishers.net.

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A Book Marketing Recipe
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Photo courtesy of Kaboompics.com.

A Book Marketing Recipe

I once met an author who wrote a book that she was promoting as a Christian book. I spoke with this author and really liked her. She had a charming, likable nature. She was very personable. However, during our conversation, she told me that she did not read the Bible. In fact, she did not even know some of the more familiar Bible stories such as Esther.

A Marketing Recipe

When I discovered this piece of information, I decided to not read her book. Why? Because I did not trust that her book was really a Christian book. On another level, I did not trust this author. After all, she was promoting her book as a Christian book, yet she did not read the Bible.

Relationships follow a predictable pattern. First you must meet someone and get to know them. As you get to know the person, you start to like him or her. Then, as you spend more time with that person, your trust in the individual grows.

This pattern—Know + Like + Trust—is repeated over and over in our life with each new person we meet and befriend. The same pattern is replicated in selling products. After all, we buy products from people we know, like, and trust.

When you think about marketing your book, this simple pattern should permeate what you do. Your marketing efforts need to help people first get to know you, then to like you and what you offer, and lastly to trust your message and writing.

Let’s examine each step a little more closely.

Know:

People have to meet you to know you. This meeting does not have to be in the physical world; it can be in the print or digital world. There are many ways for people to meet you. They might read an article you wrote or see one of your social media posts. They might hear you interviewed on a podcast. For people to meet you, you have to show up. The more places you show up at, the more people will get to know you.

Like:

We like people who help us. As an author, you help people by enriching their lives with your useful information, stress-relieving humor, or compelling stories that speak to hearts. We help people by showing up regularly and offering value to their lives. When we help our audience, they like us.

Trust:

Trust builds as like deepens. When we are consistent and people can rely on us, they trust us more. Your message matters. When your message speaks to someone’s heart, they feel that you know them and their struggles, and they begin to trust you.

This pattern is rarely completed in a quick getting. Sometimes the Know + Like + Trust pattern can all happen in a one-time meeting. Usually, it develops over time. Repeated exposure is necessary. Consistency is key.

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Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
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Photo courtesy of Myriams-Fotos and geralt.

Book Marketing Bingo

Eight out of every ten products launched in the United Sates are destined to fail.

I recently read this statistic in the book Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. He went on to say:

Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet history tell us that all but a few of them have vanished from the shelf a year later. In consumer products alone, 52 percent of all new brands, and 75 percent of individual products fail.

That’s a whole lot of products that don’t stand the test of time. In other words, they don’t sell enough for their makers to keep producing them.

Authors, you have the same uphill battle for your books. The average traditionally-published book sells less than 500 copies and the vast majority of indie published books sell less than 200 copies.

There are many factors that help books sell. However, just as a cake won’t rise without baking soda, your book won’t sell without some marketing.

I love this Marketing Bingo board that John Kremer developed. Check it out. Have you done enough marketing to win a bingo on the board?

Marketing Bingo Card

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Marketing Is a Mindset
Overcoming Roadblocks to Marketing
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

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