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The Author Platform

The two most talked about topics on publishing blogs these days are e-books (ie when are you getting one?) and author platforms (ie why don’t you have one?). I’ve covered e-books, now on to platforms. Six months ago, I didn’t know what a platform was. Had never heard the term before. And now, it seems like it’s ALL I read about. And although this matters most for authors in the months before their books are released, the sooner you get started the better. I don’t even have an agent yet, but I’m learning that agents take your platform into consideration when deciding whether to represent you. One agent who complimented both my writing and my story, ended his rejection letter with, “Good luck with your tutoring.” Tutoring?? There was no mention of that in my query. But, low and behold, take a minute to Google my name (Meghan Ward) and up pops my website that hasn’t been updated in three years with a link to an old tutoring website that I never use anymore. I do still tutor now and then, but that’s not what I want to be known for. So I have a web designer redesigning my site. Meanwhile …

I have joined Twitter.
I have joined LinkedIn.
I have started this new blog.
I have been reading blogs and tweets and articles and books about social media.

And my conclusion? It’s time consuming as hell. Is it worth it? I don’t know yet, since I’ve just begun. And how will I ever know? Once I get the agent? Once I get a publisher? Once I sell X number of books? The $64,000 question is does Tweeting/Facebooking/Blogging really sell books? According to this article, yes. But is Gary Vaynerchuk (ah, that name again!) the bar to which to we should hold ourselves? Because, realistically, how many of us are going to become viral Internet sensations? A handful of the thousands upon thousands marketing their wares with blogs? Most of us are going to attract a few hundred followers who may or may not buy our book. And according to Rachelle Gardner“, you have to sell at least 8000 books to make it worth the publisher’s while (What is a “while”, by the way?) Hmm. And yet, without the platform, we may never get a chance to sell the first copy.

For those who want specific advice about author platforms, I’ll be happy to share what I’ve learned in subsequent posts, but the most important thing I’ve discovered these last couple of weeks is to:

1. Pace yourself. This is a cross-country race, not a sprint, so don’t burn out on the first lap around the track.

2. Don’t try to do everything at once (like I am). I want to redesign my website, blog as frequently as possible, start yet another blog, Twitter more, make a video, do some vlogging, spend time with my kids, make some money doing freelance editing and, oh, maybe write something? It’s overwhelming. Don’t try this at home! I heard about a blog today called Get Rich Slowly. I love that title, and it’s going to be the theme of my author platforming. Keep at it, don’t give up, but take it slowly. Be the tortoise, not the hare. And play with your kids. That’s far more important than selling books.

2 comments to The Author Platform

  • Great points, Meghan. I've been doing a search on my name and the title of my book every day to see where I'm popping up so I can keep track of my online presence. Google does allow you to subscribe to notifications for new results from a specific search term, but there seems to be a delay in its processing, and nothing beats doing a search first thing every morning (the links I haven't clicked yet are bright blue, so it's easy to spot new results). Twice I've found an article posted about my book this way and had time to send corrections to the editor before very many people had read the articles.

  • Meghan Ward

    Jackie, are you talking about Google Alerts? That's a great idea to use it as a way to make corrections on articles before many people see the articles. Would love to have you write a guest blog post on your experience self-publishing and marketing!