The Reason Your Author Platform Matters

By Rachel Thompson | Author Marketing

Feb 21
The Reason Your Author Platform Matters, Rachel Thompson, BadRedheadMedia, @BadRedheadMedia

The Reason Your Author Platform Matters, Rachel Thompson, BadRedheadMedia, @BadRedheadMedia

Every day I hear prickly, sometimes even angry authors, discussing the evils of book marketing:

“Blogging is a waste of time. I could be writing.” 

“Social media doesn’t result in sales, so forget it. Not worth it.” 

“Author platform is just a dumb term some bean dip in a suit made up. Next year they’ll call it something else.” 

Oh, dear. Let’s deconstruct.

Author Platform 

Many writers run kicking and screaming from the term author platform, but get over it. If you have any hope of marketing your books — er, selling your books — you need to understand that selling books is a business. Art is commerce. You are part of the machine that you are so vehemently protesting. Irony, huh?

Your platform consists of how visible you are, your authority on a particular topic(s), proven reach, and knowing your demographic (Source: Jane Friedman). Most authors I work with have or know maybe one of these. Do your homework.

According to Bowker data (2013), over 1,000 books are released every day (if you have updated data, please pass it along). That’s about 400,000 books each year. How do you plan to stand out if ‘writing is all that matters?’The Reason Your Author Platform Matters, Rachel Thompson, BadRedheadMedia, @BadRedheadMedia

Branding, platform, marketing, advertising — all those crazy ‘buzzwords’ — don’t sound so crazy when you are faced with the herculean task of trying to get someone to notice you, your book, and actually you know, sell something.

Remember when you were a kid and you and your buddy decided to sell watered-down lemonade to passers-by on the street corner for a quarter? You made signs, jumped up and down, waved like you were on acid? Maybe you even got creative and used one specific bright red marker on your signs so your lemonade stand stood out from mean ole Mary Jane’s, with her perfect Marcia hair who lived down the street, who you KNOW was handing out sneezers.

Guess what we marketing people call that? Marketing. Advertising. Dare I say, Branding?

Smart Work, Hard Work 

I’ve released four books (award-winning, bestselling) in the last four years (slow by some people’s standards but hey, I’m a busy girl, what with running a business, being a mom, and writing my next two books. I can tell you that getting all four of my books to #1 best seller status on Amazon didn’t come from magical fairies sprinkling bestseller dust over me while I’m writing or sleeping (I miss sleep).

It happened because I made it happen. I work hard to build relationships with readers, authors, publishing and industry folks, book bloggers, and reviewers. I don’t sit back eating bonbons while the fairies dance around me, making the magic happen. How do I do it?

Secrets 

My secret? It’s not a secret because I blather on constantly about building relationships. You’re probably sick of it by now, but it’s so true. How do I build relationships? Let’s look at Jane’s definition above and break it down.

Demographic: I share lots of interesting content (other than ‘buy my book!’ because dear god, if that’s all I knew how to write, why on earth would anyone buy my book at all?), articles, other people’s posts and articles, quotes, pictures, videos, and yes, the occasional promotional giveaway or sale, all having to do with what my demographic is interested in because I targeted specific people with similar interests.

Visibility: I’m very visible: I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram — social media is best used for building relationships, not for blasting ‘buy my book!’ links. I blog weekly (my author blog and my business blog), I guest blog, I write for Huffington Post, BookPromotion.com, I pay for low-cost ads, I do blog tours. If you google RachelintheOC, BadRedhead Media, or Author Rachel Thompson, you’ll find me.

I rarely discuss my books; rather I focus on sharing real-life stories, others’ stories, and meaningful articles and information. Being ‘other-focused’ and generous is like catching flies with honey.

How do I manage to be so visible? A combination of several easy to use social media management tools: Hootsuite, Buffer, Swayy, Google Alerts. Many are free or low-cost. You can use them, too. I schedule in some content and I live interact as well, when I’m not writing or handling client accounts or burning dinner for my kids.

Authority: This one seems to be trickier, but it’s really not. Everyone is good at something, knows a particular topic intimately. That’s not usually the issue. The issue is giving ourselves permission to be an expert on what we know, what we’re good at.

I was no different. Despite having 17+ years of sales and marketing behind me, it took me awhile to get my feet under me to start my own business, to ignore the people who told me I didn’t know enough about publishing to market books. Having two best sellers under my belt helped me change my own mind! As did having many authors asking to hire me to help them. My business almost started by default, to be honest.

Share what you enjoy, what you are good at, your struggles. Be authentically you. People respond to that.

Proven Reach:

Your author platform, social media and blogging is the best way to build a readership and fan base. It’s also how you will connect to book bloggers and reviewers, yet I read a lot of writers moaning about how they’re too busy to interact with readers online.

Um, what? Let me get this straight: you want readers to find you, but you don’t want to interact with them. You just want to write. You want a traditional contract because you think everything will be done for you (not) — I have traditionally published clients right now who hire me to do their social media because their publishing company doesn’t do any of it.

Here’s the bottom line: publishing companies will look at your manuscript to see if you can write, of course, but they will also look at your ability to bring in readers. That’s how I eventually got an agent and signed to a publishing company. They will check your social media numbers, website visits and comments, and how you interact with people. They want to see your brand, how well you market, and if you can prove that you have reach.

How can you have that if you don’t have that? 

All this hard work I’ve done the last seven years (since I started blogging), is starting to pay off.

Have patience, work smart, be realistic, and have a plan.

 

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo)

All content © 2017 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Pictures courtesy of unsplash
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About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published by Shadow Teams NYC and represented by Lisa Hagan Books. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs,  #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Leave a Comment:

(18) comments

Eric February 21, 2015

Rachel, wonderful post. My plan is to never give up, never surrender, and to follow to your advice.

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Susan Fox February 22, 2015

Rachel,
This is such a great article. I need to read it everyday. It seems discipline and focus is where I need to direct my attention. I think your very point of marketing and social media as a tool for your work can be a source of constant distraction while you are trying to stay focused on writing the material that you need to get out to the media. I find that very ironic don’t you? I really admire your work Rachel. Your article about the fact that you seldom mention your books in all your social media reminded me of the volunteers that worked on this year long project largely I believe because of caring relationships we have between each other. I will be a speaker at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show this year, last year, show owner, Tony Abruscato, asked me if I could help him get rose growers interested in his show and to get the rose gardens there for the first time in over a decade. Rose gardens blooming in March, in Chicago, which most rose growing experts we approached told us it would be impossible due to the early date in March, the climate of Chicago and the process called ‘forcing’ the roses into early blooming. Rachel, we heard quite a few ‘No’s. However we, Tony and I believed it could be done and never gave up, that’s been our goal and God willing we will have now two rose gardens with over 1000 blooming rose bushes! A classic rose garden and a miniature rose garden. Garden Design Magazine ( http://www.gardendesign.com/visit/roses-bloom-early-at-the-chicago-flower-garden-show)
interviewed me and I will tweet you the link. I am so proud of all the folks we got together to do this. And its mostly all volunteer. Your article reminded me how most all of us worked on this because of our passion for what we do and came together because of friendship. Thank-you for all you do Rachel to inspire me and the people I see out there. It’s about giving back.
http://www.gardendesign.com/visit/roses-bloom-early-at-the-chicago-flower-garden-show
Warm Regards,
Susan Fox

Reply
Kate Woods February 22, 2015

Thanks for the great information and the motivation this morning. I, like so many writers, am not a great fan of marketing. I can be quoted as saying “Writing is my Passion, and Marketing is my Pain”. However, after having said that, I do market quite a lot now on social media, and your articles and your gentle pushes have been instrumental in helping me with that work. You might say that now, even though I still don’t love marketing, I have now followed many of your suggestions and it’s now less of a pain and sometimes even a little bit enjoyable.

Thanks for sharing!

Kate Woods

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Carrie Ann Lahain February 23, 2015

Shared this! Heaven knows the message needs to get out. Too many of my writer friends hit “publish” on Createspace and then…nothing…. They ask me, “Why do you bother blogging, book reviewing, helping out at Facebook parties. How many books has that sold for you?” The honest answer is that I don’t know. People are buying/borrowing the books. Not in droves. Not yet, anyway. And it’s true that when someone I meet on Facebook or Twitter or through attending a webinar ask me which of my books they should try first, I invariably send them the Kindle for free. I figure why not? It’s not like the .65 to 3.00 profit would change my life–the relationship and goodwill is worth way more than that. Some of these individuals have gone and bought the book anyway or another of mine. But even when they don’t, invariably something good happens. Someone I’ve chatted with on Twitter will choose my book for their book club, or post a fabulous review, or pass my name along to a book promotion site looking for people to guest post. I feel my career building momentum, but since I can’t show a one to one correlation between activities and sales, my writers friends poo-poo a lot of my efforts. At times their attitude does make me second guess myself, but not for long. My gut tells me I’m on the right track, so I’m sticking with it.

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[…] The Reason Your Author Platform Matters […]

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Kathy March 7, 2015

Great article. I must admit, I’ve been trying to grow my social media reach. I suck at blogging, but came up with an idea: post an excerpt from a WIP each Friday morning until the novel is finished. That way folks get to “try” me out for free. I post on Blogger and Wattpad and it seems to have helped. I tweet, FB, and a do little Google. I have a great time interacting with my fans- heck, I even invite them to my house! (once I know they aren’t freaky stalkers). I don’t have kids, but I do have an entire farm of animals and a big house to take care of. Still I try to take time each day and do a little PR. Lately, though, with the exponential increase in the number of titles published, sales have slipped. I hope that changes. But I still write because I love telling stories.

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Melissa McPhail March 10, 2015

You make a great point about interacting and engaging with others, Rachel. I think it can be challenging for people at first, especially us writerly types who are more introvert than extrovert, yet I’ve found the interaction and engagement via social media and my blog to be so beneficial – both to me as an individual and as a writer. That social engagement has contributed in so countless ways to my artistic growth. I can’t imagine being a writer in a day and age where such immediate interaction was impossible.

Thank you for sharing your successful actions and being such a voice of wisdom in the online community.

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Melissa Herrera April 15, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing these words with us! This is exactly what I have begun to focus on but need to improve in “sharing” more “outside” of my books! I feel inspired and with hope!

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[…] The Reason Your Author Platform Matters […]

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Martin Baker October 24, 2015

Great article, Rachel, and always worth a re-read.
Marty

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