Do you have an author platform?

I’ve spent the past year learning how to create author platforms for authors from scratch but also how to help authors position themselves in such a way that the platform they already have truly shines.

This week, however, I came across an alarming article on Creative Nonfiction called “Platforms Are ‘Overrated.” I was immediately disappointed that the author, in equating platform to social media, incredibly limited in her scope and understanding of what a platform actually is, and worse than that – she is promoting a defeatist attitude around the importance of building one.

Let me say once and for all: an author platform does NOT equal a social media following. In fact, social media alone is pretty ineffective at moving people to action. What moves people to action is content, and touching them again and again with really good content — and not ONLY on your social media feeds. I’d even go so far as to say that your social media accounts have ZERO impact on your sales if the content you share isn’t touching your reader.

So back to basics. Here’s what is included in a compelling Author Platform:

  • expertise
  • personality
  • blog
  • email mailing list
  • social media accounts
  • published books
     

Do you see that “social media” accounts for only one piece of a complete platform?

How you get your message to people will vary, and the publishing industry is very savvy to this point. They honestly don’t care how many Twitter followers you have. They care that you have an engaged readership. So then, what you need to focus on is engaging your readership and audience in real conversation. When you have a message people care about, and you present it consistently and well, people get hooked. They listen and they come back for more.

If you want to traditionally publish, platform is not at all “overrated” because it matters to the publishing industry — to marketing and sales folks especially. And even if you are happy to be self-published (I agree with you there) – your author platform matters because this is where the sales are made. To say it’s bullshit is to take an entitled attitude.  And again, it’s not about how many followers you have. Platform is about how many people you can reach and how authentic your connection with those people is. There are innumerable vehicles for reaching people (teaching, speaking, performing, interviews, multimedia, articles, guest posts — and yes, social media and blogging too).

This, my friends, is the simplest definition of “platform” there is. Be the voice your readers care to listen to and they will want to read what you write.

It really is as simple as that.

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