Updated: Jan 22
Welcome to the second monthly blog post in my #7LessonsLearned series, where I will be sharing lessons and tips - in sets of 7 - about the writing and editing world.
Today's post is about Building an Author Platform. This topic is one of the first I discovered when I set out to start my journey as an author and along the way I have developed a better understanding of what it really is. This list of seven is by no means exhaustive, but just some of the parts that have resonated most, or seemed most useful to me as I've started out.
1. Define your brand
Your brand is who you are as an author (and/or self-publisher) and the direction you are going in. Deciding this early will help you to make decisions around design, marketing and logos, etc. For example, I am a fantasy writer (for children and adults) and love to support other writers. My site theme and logo both show my fantasy focus, and my content is either fantasy or writer based.
Once you decide on your own brand - stick with it! Consistency is key! When I started out, I hadn't spent enough time considering my brand, and so used my time writing about whatever I wanted and when you looked at my site, you could only maybe tell I was a fantasy writer. I also did book tours and author interviews on any genre of book (this all changes from January next year - it's never too late!).
By having your brand and brand identity clear and consistent, your readership will know what to expect from you, and will hopefully continue coming back from more!
2. Create your bio
Your author bio should be written in the third person and cover any experience or qualifications you hold in the writing field or where your skills transfer across, e.g. your current vocation may work for you. For example, since I write for children and will be offering a service to create lesson plans linked to books, my teaching career is relevant. I also list the writing courses I have completed or am currently undertaking.
Something else to include if you have it are any publications, awards or honourable mentions. For example, my short story 'Aquaria' is being published in an anthology in January 2020, so I have mentioned that. At this point, I don't have any other additional writing credits, so I leave it at that.
Your bio is not just to tell people about you, it is a selling point of who you are and what you are about. It's also a great way for your readers to find some way to connect with you.
3. Develop your website
Your website is also a large part of your brand identity and should clearly show anyone who visits exactly what they will get from visiting. Your overall theme and logo will support this along with the content that you include.
My black and gold theme, with a wolf logo (including the font) shows that I focus on fantasy content. My homepage gives an overview of what a visitor will get from me, including my various fantasy and writing based blogs, my upcoming publications and also a way to connect with me via social platforms. Everything down to the books I read displays this information.
When you set up your website, keep your brand in mind and tailor it to what works for you as an author and content creator. When you do your initial set up, also consider your domain name. If you intend on publishing under your own name, that is a good simple choice that will make it easy for your current and future readers to find you.
In regards to the actual design, have a look around at other sites, particularly author sites and see what resonates with you. Love something from here and there and you can make it fit your brand? Great! Use the idea. Also, consider adding a sign-up option so that you can stay in contact with your readers!
Remember: This is a work in progress - update as you go!
Do you have to? Nope. Should you? Maybe. Depends on your brand, what your aims are and if you are willing to make the time.
Don't know what to write about? Just pick anything! No, wait! Don't do that. This is a good spot to pause and consider your brand. What are you about? What do your readers expect from you? In my case, my posts are now aimed around helping writers write, supporting them (particularly fantasy authors to stay on brand for me) to share their work, my reviews on works of fantasy and my own writing and publishing news.
When you pick topics to blog about, just make sure they match your brand. There are lots of ideas on the web for this, or even ask a writer friend, or hey - get in touch. I'd be happy to help you come up with an idea if you're stuck!
5. Social platforms
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn... The list goes on. My biggest suggestion straight up is to pick one or two and stick with it/them to start. Social media can be pretty time consuming if you want to be successful with it (I'm still early days on this - it's definitely a process).
When you start yours up, make sure it is consistent with your brand just like everything else on the list. Include a mini bio where you can and put in a link to your website. You want all of your platforms to link up to make it easy for people to find you.
Picking a platform: Consider your audience and what you are using the platform for. For example, I use Facebook primarily to connect with the writing community in groups and by adding writing friends that I meet along my journey. My Twitter I use to both connect and share news, blog posts and other author's work. Instagram is new to me (I'm still learning!) and I am aiming to use it to connect with readers.
This one is super important! Writing can be a pretty solo journey and I have found it really doesn't have to be like that. You can find helpful and supportive people out there if you climb out of your shell and dive in!
The #writingcommunity can be found in many places, but one of the best and most convenient is via social media. Add friends, follow, subscribe and really join in! (While staying consistent with your brand of course, and remember your readers will be watching - keep the politics switched off!)
Wondering what to join in with? Book launches, blog swaps (looking forward to trying this one out!), writing and reading groups, and even just plain old talking. Being a part of the community means that you have places to turn to ask your questions, a listening ear about how tough it is to balance writing and life when you need it, and even to just share your successes - no matter how small!
7. Make a schedule
Making a schedule for writing (yes, you do actually need to do some of that too) and for your website upkeep, blogging and use of social platforms will really help you out on this journey.
For me, setting up a schedule (on a big desk calendar) and a routine (usually via phone alarms or my phone cal) means that I don't usually let anything slip through the cracks, such as sending interview questions and making posts. It also means I get my writing in, currently through three 15 minute writing sprints per day - this adds up! Generally per week, I get around 10-12k using this method.
Consider what is happening in your life and set up a schedule that will work for you. Don't be afraid to try out a few different things until you figure out something that is workable. Make sure you factor in all the parts that you need to, including some family time and downtime!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and that you’ll be back to check out the rest of the series as it arrives. Next up is about creating an on-brand blog.
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I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below. Feel free to share your thoughts on the article and anything you’d love to read about from this series in the future - I’m always open to ideas. You can also catch me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and via my Contact page.
Happy reading & writing!