Author Etiquette: Do You Need an Author Platform?

by Jennifer 26. October 2015 11:50

Authors are given so much advice it’s easy to see why they get confused and frustrated. How often to write, what toor not towrite, and where and how to publish. Everyone has a different opinion and if you look at different writers and their advice, it can get confusing quickly.


One of the more confusing bits of information that is passed on is the question of whether an author needs a platform or social media presence. Many new authors feel pressured to have a presence in every type of social media. But to fully utilize social media and connect with readers, a writer has to carve out time to not only update statuses but respond to people who ask questions or make comments. When you have a regular job and are in the process of writing or editing, you just don’t always have time for everything. It can be very frustrating.


But do you really need a platform? Well, the answer is yes and no.


First of all, we need to explain what a platform is. An author’s platform is a place where an author and viewer connect. The platform can be a website, blog or other social media site. From the platform, an author can notify people of new releases, progress on stories, and respond to comments and questions. Not only is social media a way to connect with friends and family, it’s a marketing tool. A platform is necessary on the internet to become and remain visible to potential readers. Being visible can lead to sales which is very important in publishing.


Word spreads quickly and a single post has the potential to be seen all over the world. The author’s platform is the centerpiece of the market you create. The question for many authors is how?


With all of the different types of social media, an author’s platform isn’t a one size fits all. One of the most important pieces of an author platform is a central location where people can find out more about you and your work. Most authors create a website or blog for this purpose. Even if you are just starting out, you can set up a free blog to use until you can purchase a domain name and set up a website. Important things to remember to set up are:

  • An About Me page that tells viewers a little about you

  • A way to contact you

  • A bibliography or list of books or stories and where to find them.

 

It’s also a plus if your site tells the viewer a little about your. For example, if you write military fiction, your site might have artwork that features soldiers, weapons or has a military theme. This gives the viewer an immediate indication of what to expect.


Your main platform should be the place where you share big news first. Links to new work, reviews, and where you will be (if you attend conferences--please don’t post your normal itinerary) are great things to post about. But don’t just create updates about writing. Share a video you enjoyed, photos of your vacation, or that recipe you tried that turned out so wrong.


While websites and blogs are great for being a main platform, they are often very static. The information stays up for long periods and unless you update often, posts can get stale. People may forget that your site is on the net unless you remind them.


Other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be used along with your website to connect with readers. Social media sites allow users to follow or friend people that interest them. Friend and follower posts create a stream that users read through. Each platform has a unique style. LinkedIn is more business related. Twitter is very quick. Facebook can be very cozy. Depending on your personal preferences, you may like one or the other more. For beginning writers, a Facebook or Twitter account is enough to start with. But if you already have an account, congratulations you already have a platform to work with!


One of the great things about social media is sites can be linked so that a post on your website or blog will filter through your other accounts. You don’t have to take the time to create a post for each platform. With widgets and plugins or even a social media management program, you can hit everything at once.


The biggest thing to remember about your author platform and social media is to be you. Yes you are excited about your new work and really want to post every hour about it. And for the first day that might be okay, but after that, posting once a day or once a week really is enough. Instead, tell your followers about the silly thing your cat did this morning or that fabulous meal you ate. People are much more interested in being human than being spammed.


Having a platform is an important tool for a writer. A website or blog allows readers to learn a bit  more about you and find your work. Other social media places help bring in traffic and potentially grows your readership. But remember you don’t have to do it all. Use what is comfortable for you and just be yourself.

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