Author Platform? What’s that?


Let me ask you this: Your friend Jane tells you her buddy John published his first novel. “Ple-e-e-e-ase…” she begs you to buy a copy to support him, even though it’s not a genre you like. Do you buy it? I’ll come back to that a bit.

Today is day 24 of 31. I’ve covered many topics, ranging from editing, inspiration, and influencers, to character development, choosing a title and a book cover, emotions, spelling, attending conferences, and more. One I haven’t covered is platform.

Whether you’re traditionally or self-published, if you’re serious about maintaining a writing career, you need a platform. A place to connect with your readers, promote your books, and of course, sell them.

Why is it so important? Because who you know just isn’t enough. Sure, your family, your friends, and even the friend of a friend, can buy your novel. They can also spread the word to their friends (remember the question I asked above? Did you say yes or no?).

In order to reach those who don’t know you but who may be interested in your work, you need exposure, not just locally but everywhere. More than just on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, those are helpful for spreading the word, and a great place to start, but you need to attract potential buyers, connect with them, and interest them. Most of all, you have to get your name out there because, other than your family and friends, nobody knows you as a writer.

So how do you build your platform? Start slowly.

1. Create a website, a page where you can display your book(s), and talk about yourself. Your readers want to know about you, the author behind the story. If they like it, they’ll want to know if you have a series, or other works they can get their hands on.

2. Create a signup link on your website, and start your email list. When your next book comes out, that list becomes the easiest way for you to let them know.

3. Take advantage of Social Media and link different accounts. Opinions differ on this one, but it worked wonders for me. As a beginner, I didn’t know anything about platform, and my book didn’t do well. About 10 months after its release, someone told me about the advantages of linking different accounts together. I signed up for a Twitter account, and linked it to my Facebook page. Everything I posted in one feed also appeared in the other. Using hashtags also helped because the best way to find something on Twitter is to use keywords with a hashtag. Try it. Do a search for #suspense and see how many hits you get. It works great when you have a #FREE offer. By using this method, more people saw my book, and downloaded it. It wasn’t long before I reached 1,000+ downloads and made it to #3 in the top 100 in inspirational category.

There are other ways to get started, but I hope these few steps will help you. If you already have one, share how you did it.


Is Technology a Writing Distraction?

If it’s not the kids fighting over a toy, the dog scratching at the door to come in, or the TV playing too loud in the next room, for some people, the biggest distraction is technology. We must be disciplined enough to put away ALL gadgets when we write.

As I searched for a topic for today’s post, the notifications on my cell phone went off several times to let me know I had a text and several social media messages. My laptop dinged when new email came in. All those distractions happened in the span of a few minutes (or was it seconds?) while I surfed the web. I didn’t think of it as a big deal, but right now, it has me thinking.

Where’s your cell phone while you work on your stories? Next to the keyboard? The volume’s off so it’s not going to interrupt you, right? Wrong! You see the notification telling you something of great importance. Is it so important you can’t check it later?

Here are FIVE major distractions that, in my opinion, we need to turn off when working on a novel, whether writing, revising, editing, proofreading, etc.

  1. Email program. The reason I don’t want it on is simply because of the noise it makes when messages come in. Even if the volume’s off (call it automatic or impulsive), I toggle between windows, ‘just to check,’ I might say. Am I going to read the message and feel the need to reply immediately? Probably.
  2. Social Media. Regardless which ones you use, they do affect our work in more ways than one. You check one message, and as you reply quickly, another one comes through in. You have to answer… Oh and don’t forget those pop-up ads, which I find totally obnoxious.
  3. Cell phone. To me personally, that’s one of the worst. I actually turn the volume as well as the vibe off, and place the phone upside down so I won’t be distracted by the flashing notifications. Other times, I set it on my charging dock which is on the cabinet behind me. No distractions.
  4. Home phone. While many people got rid of their landline when they acquired a cell phone, I kept mine (not sure why, all I get are telemarketers/scams!). To avoid distractions when I work, especially with all the scams out there, it’s easier for me to turn the phone off.
  5. Music/TV. While many CAN work with music, or the TV in the background, I need total silence. I find it much easier to work in the stillness of the room. I turned a spare room into an office. The sign on the door says Employees Only (I couldn’t find Do Not Enter). My family knows when the door’s shut, it means keep out. (I understand not everyone has the luxury of having a spare room). 

employees only

I’m sure there are tons of other things that interfere with your writing. What are some of them? How do you keep distractions at bay while working on your stories?