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25 Ways to Build Your Author Platform Before Your Book is Published

If you’re a writer, you’ve had the importance of building your “author platform” drilled into your head like the multiplication tables were in fourth grade. Most people associate building an author platform with Facebook and a blog, but there are many ways to create a following. Here are 25:

1. Blog
Not every writer needs to or should blog, but blogs are a fantastic way to connect with potential readers without spending much money. I recommend paying for hosting, so you can use your own domain name ( or

2. Tumblr
If you don’t have time to write 300-800-word blog posts, but you have photos, links, and insights you want to share, consider setting up a Tumblr account. Tumblr is for microblogging.

3. Twitter
Twitter is a great way to connect with a LOT of people without spending a lot of time online. Granted, those who do spend a lot of time on Twitter have higher Klout scores, but then again, who cares about Klout?

4. Facebook
Wait! I thought the point of this post was that building your author platform did NOT have to involve social media! Facebook is THE social network! Yes, yes. But Facebook DOES matter. Publishers want to know how many Facebook friends and/or likes you have. They want you to customize your Facebook Page. They want it to look awesome. Don’t want until your book launch. Start right now.

5. YouTube
You can build a subscriber base through your YouTube account. Here’s an example: This guy has instructional videos on how to make origami things. I watched this video to learn how to make cranes over the weekend. And more than 2 million other people have watched it, too. Think about what useful information you could impart through videos. Make 20 of them and link to them on your blog, your Facebook account, your Twitter account, and Linked In.

6. LinkedIn
Use it! Some marketing Guru once said to me, “Linked In is my business card; Facebook is my greeting card.” LinkedIn is a valuable resource if you’re looking for a job, looking to hire someone, looking for an expert in a particular field, etc.

7. Google+
For all you writers who rely on Google Friend Connect to advertise how many blog followers you have, I have news for you. Google Friend Connect is going to disappear for all but Blogger bloggers, and the rest of us will be left with Google+. So get on it. Start adding people to your circles and post a Google+ button on your blog.

8. Teaching
I went to a reading by an MFA teacher friend a few years ago, and the bookstore was PACKED with her students. Teaching is a great way to build loyal fans. Just promise them As if they give your book a 5-star review on Amazon. Kidding!

9. Speaking Engagements
Some authors make a living giving speeches and seminars. They get paid a lot of money by corporations to tell people how to get off their “buts” and think outside of the box. At the same time, they’re selling themselves to the audience. If they have a book out, they may sell it at the seminar (this is a great way for self-published authors to find an audience). Or they may simply have “George Trottinet, author of ‘Where’s my Camembert?” written at the bottom of all their handouts. It’s a great way to build your author platform.

10. Mixers
There’s no better way to connect with people than in person. Attend workshops, conferences, conventions, and networking events—and talk to people. Be sure to update your business card before you go, and don’t be shy about handing it out. That way people can reconnect with you after the alcohol has worn off and they’ve forgotten your name.

11. Podcasts
Visit Dane Golden of for an example of how to podcast. Dane does live video interviews with his subjects via Skype like a real news anchor. Very cool. Other options are recorded video podcasts or audio podcasts. Dane’s secret? Keep ’em short.

12. Get Published
I don’t mean get your book published. I mean get book reviews, short stories, and articles published in newspapers, magazines and literary journals—whether in print or online. You’ll build up your resume and get your name out there. Best of all, you’ll give readers a sample of your writing. Be sure to include your website, blog, or Twitter ID at the bottom.

13. Win Awards
When you win a big award, it will be announced in newspapers and on blogs. People will Tweet about it and share it on Facebook: “Congratulations, Susie Q, on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction!” Even small awards are a fantastic way to build your platform.

14. Get Famous
Celebrities have the biggest platforms of all, so if you have the chance to marry a prince, star in a film, or have octuplets—go for it!

15. Start a newsletter
Some people abhor newsletters, but they are a great way to connect with potential readers. And e-mail marketing can be cool, too.

16. Join a writers’ group
Writers’ groups are a great way to build a support network with other writers. You can all Tweet and blog and share each other’s work, attend each others’ readings, and buy each other’s books. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends!

17. Read Your Work
Every city has monthly or weekly author readings. In San Francisco, we have Porchlight, the Monthly Rumpus, Inside Story Time, Litquake, and many many more. Read! It’s a fantastic way to: 1) Let others hear and fall in love with your work 2) Get experience reading in front of strangers. You’ll be doing plenty of that when your book comes out, and you won’t want it to be your first time.

18. Get Involved
Run for the school board. Volunteer. Get active in a writers’ or journalists’ association. All of these are ways of making your name more public and expanding your network.

19. Sell merchandise
I saw a bumper sticker the other day for Story something-or-other (dot) org. If I’d had a pen I would have written it down. If I’d had an iPhone, I would have typed in the link. The point being, it caught my attention. You can use T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, book marks, and more to advertise your brand. (Okay, I’m not going to get T-shirts made that say, “Meghan Ward, author” across the chest, but I may get ones that say “” on the back. Why not?

20. Blimps, skywriting, and billboards
I’m kidding. Kind of. When I lived in LA, there was this woman, Angelyne, on billboards all over the city. She wasn’t famous for anything other than being ON THE BILLBOARDS. She was blond, of course, and had abnormally large breasts. Someone said she was the girlfriend of the owner of the billboards. Whoever she was, all of LA knew her and her pink Corvette. A more realistic equivalent may be posting flyers around your neighborhood or taking out Google and Facebook ads advertising your services (in my case, editing). Eventually, people will recognize your name when they see it, and hopefully that will be on the cover of a book.

21. Website
You need a website! In addition to Twitter and Facebook and your blog, make sure you have a hub where people can contact you, sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your YouTube channel, read your bio and a list of your writing credits, etc. This is the number one most important step in building your author platform.

22. Guest blog
Don’t just blog on your own site. Land a gig blogging for an established publication, guest blog regularly—or just once in a while—for other bloggers. And have other bloggers guest blog for you. Their readers will visit your blog, and your readers will visit their blog. Everyone wins.

23. Make a viral video
Easier said than done, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to try. The best ones aren’t planned as viral videos, but if you’re clever enough, you can do it. There was one video a friend sent me that was very sweet, frame after frame of mothers holding up signs with suggestions on how to improve the world (or something like that; I forget exactly). But it was all too perfect, the writing on each sign too similar. And then I saw it at the end of the video, the name of a bra brand. It was a VERY clever advertisement. I think it was created by Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing. If you haven’t checked his site out, do. Right now. Then create your own Unmarketing Plan to build your Author UnBrand.

24. SEO
Read Inbound Marketing to learn more about SEO and how to improve yours. You want your blog or website to come up high in Google searches, so when someone does a search for “awesome fiction writers,” your name comes up first. The best way to do this is to have your blog ON your website, and update your blog frequently. But there’s more you can do with tags and metatags and things that are beyond me, so read Inbound Marketing and get some techie person to help you implement their suggestions.

25. Know your local booksellers
What a better way to get people talking about your book than to know them personally? Talk to the booksellers at ALL your local bookstores. Get to know them, so when your book comes out you won’t wish you had.

Can you think of other creative ways to build your author platform?

38 comments to 25 Ways to Build Your Author Platform Before Your Book is Published

  • It seems like there is a special club for writers. It’s as if they’ve all gone through the same war and there is this “knowing” that unites them in some kind of serority/fraternity or writers. I’m looking through the windows from the cold to the group that figured it all out. I’m a marriage and sex therapist writing a book called “Good Girls Like Sex Too” and I’ve realized that anyone can write a book but there is so much to know to actually be a successful author. Gosh, this is going to be hard! Thanks for the great ideas. I’m on tv every other week as the marriage and sex expert but I haven’t figured out a way to capitalize on it. I’m great at therapy but not so good at publicity. Please keep the good advice coming to us wannabees!

    • meghancward

      Emil, it sounds like you're way ahead of most of us if you're on TV every other week! And I love the title of your book.

    • nicoledelacroix420

      Sounds like you're ahead of the game being on television and such. I've been struggling to build my platform for some time now, so if I can be of any help hit me up.

  • karenselliott

    I would add "foster relationships with others."

    • Kristan

      I agree, and I actually think a lot of these are specific examples of that one basic principle. It's a great list, and not everything will be for everyone, but there are lots of good ideas here.

      (That said, I'm not sure about running for office simply to build a platform… I would hope you have better reasons than that.)

      • meghancward

        Kristan – Maybe "running for office" isn't the right phrase – but rather "Get Involved" – as in volunteer for an organization, run for PTA president, etc. Here's an example, author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Author of "A Tiger in the Kitchen" is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association. This has tremendously helped her platform. I'm going to rename #18!

    • meghancward

      Great addition, Karen!

  • niamhclune

    A great list! I also agree with Karen…You have done your work…Thank you for sharing.

  • karenjonesgowen

    I like the billboard idea LOL. I resisted creating my website until recently. I had a blog, Twitter, bla bla and didn't think I needed it, but I finally did and just love my "official author website" because if everything else disappeared, or if I got hugely famous and had to disappear myself, my website is there and ready to go!

    • meghancward

      Karen – your author website looks great! And you have TEN children! I'm from a family of eight, so my mother had lots of free time compared to you 🙂

  • What a fantastic overview. I don't follow all of them, but obviously we're meant to pick and choose. (Running for office may not be on my agenda–but maybe I'll propose to the Octomom?) I always thought that blogs inside websites were less likely to be picked up by Google spiders–since I always find them hard to locate, but maybe I was wrong about that. Great post. Will RT.

    • meghancward

      Anne – from what little I know about SEO, updating your website frequently keeps it higher up in Google searches. I still haven't done the tags, titles, metatags, etc. It's on my LONG list of things to do!

  • I am SO not having octuplets. I don't care what it does for my writing.

  • Aries Hines

    Love love love this. Thank you

  • […] Lists: 25 Ways to Build Your Author Platform Before Your Book is Published, by Meghan Ward – “If you’re a writer, you’ve had the importance of building your “author platform” drilled into your head like the multiplication tables were in fourth grade. Most people associate building an author platform with Facebook and a blog, but there are many ways to create a following. ” – Writerland […]

  • karmacora

    More things to think about on my way to platform building. (gasp) Thanks for the list to keep me on track.

    • meghancward

      I guess what's important to remember is that there is no ONE way to build your platform. You don't have to do all of these things – some people may be better at giving speeches or doing podasts. Someone else may prefer blogging. Someone else may want to teach. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Exhausting. I'm going to crawl in a hole and write my stories by flashlight now.

  • Anita Laydon Miller

    I thought I'd heard them all, but found a few here I hadn't thought of. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  • I found your ideas on building a author plafform vey insightufl and thorough. I admired the depth of your honesty in endeavoring to present the very best to the public. I find quite a number of online posts and articles to be quite hackneyed and insulse. They are so common, it seems as if you've them a thousand times. I admire the breadth of content that you have made available to writers who are trying to get established. I think tha I write pretty well–and greatly enjoy doing so–but it the technical stuff that seems to get to me. I just wish that more writers would produce content that transcends the the plain, empty pages that carry blank content that leaves no one touched and makes no difference in anyone's live. Generally, I am very chatty; however, I am trying to get more sleep. I notice that my sleep hour has gone. You may visit my website and drop me a note and give me some input from your experience as a seasoned writer.

  • I'm still very unclear about a writer's platform. I have a blog and an online column on Anti-Aging. However, I am also writing an urban fantasy novel and a memoir (for which I just won an award from Writers Advice). How do I meld everything together? Do I need a separate blog for the novels? Thanks so much and BTW do you freelance for tuja wellness by any chance. I do (my anti-aging column) I haven't met everyone who works there since we are in different provinces but there is someone there with the same name.

    • meghancward

      Beverley, I'm sorry I missed this comment when you posted it. First of all, congratulations on your Writers Advice award! I definitely would NOT have more than one blog. I don't freelance for tuja wellness, but there is another Meghan Ward who is a writer in Canada. I know it's not easy to figure out how to blog about more than one topic, but YOU are your brand and your goal is for people to want to read what you have to say, no matter what the topic is. I hope that helps.

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  • Hello Meghan! I found your site very helpful and though I’m already doing some of your suggestions iit is a great learning tool to expand on and increase my platform. I’m a non-fiction Christian writer,I like to dig deeper into reaching my customers. I will challenge myself to use all of the tools listed here to reach my goals. Thanks so much for sharing and your knowledge of marketing.

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