Writers Must Build their Author Platform to Publish or Self-Publish
“A famous and often repeated piece of advice to writers is: The time to start working on your author platform is three years before your book is published.
I’ve repeated this to several clients, and it usually leaves them staring blankly into space. And yet there is a great deal of wisdom in this statement, and a radical remaking of the work of an author.
Many writers have no interest in getting involved with selling their work, or doing promotion. This article isn’t for them.
That’s because a lot of writers have realized that it’s become their responsibility to market their books. Publishers are asking them to do it, authors are routinely submitting marketing plans along with their book proposals. I spoke to a book shepherd recently who told me they were hard at work on a 20-page marketing plan for an author-client.
And it doesn’t really matter if you write fiction or nonfiction. The new reality is that you are in charge of finding, and cultivating, your own readership. Of course, if you are successful enough at it, you will acquire a big publisher complete with a marketing and advertising department to broadcast your efforts into a much larger space.
It’s a Matter of Community
Where I live in northern California, I partcipate in several communities. There’s the community of families at our son’s school. There’s the community in our neighborhood, where we plan street improvements and train for emergencies together. There’s the community of self-publishers, independent publishers and soon-to-be-publishers of which I’m a member.
In each case, within our geographic area, we form communities of interest.
For writers, the internet and its various social media—taken broadly to mean any method for interacting with other people on an equal footing—are how we find our communities of interest. Some of the tools we use are:
- Author blogs
- Writing forums
- Other people’s blogs
- Facebook groups and pages
- LinkedIn discussion groups
- Twitter #discussions and lists
- Specialized social groups like ning networks
A rational person understands that they cannot do all of these activities at once. What’s needed is a plan or strategy because, faced with all the possibilities, the normal human reaction is to put it off, and do nothing.
Unfortunately, this may not be the best solution.”