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Creating a Platform Before You are Published

Having an author platform is very important in modern publishing. Readers don't walk into Barnes and Noble and rush to the fantasy aisle to see what new titles HarperCollins has released this season. It's the authors they are invested in.

So, as the author, how do you take advantage of this?

Don't wait. Get started building your platform right away.

Waiting until you have a book release isn't going to give you something to talk about. A book release might involve an initial announcement, a cover, a teaser, and a link. Without a little creativity, you end up with a handful of posts per book. A handful of posts with each new release is not going to build a loyal online following.

There are plenty of things to talk about besides your own book. Many people with massive followings on social media have never written a book and have no plans to ever write a book. So what do they post about? They fill the vast halls of the social media world with their interests, their thoughts, the events of their lives, and reviews of things other people are doing.

That being said, you do want to be building an audience for your book, not starting an unrelated YouTube channel. If the Piano Guys wrote a book, I probably wouldn't buy it. I love their musical compositions, but that doesn't translate into writing skills. On the other hand, I know several people who own Piano Guys sheet music and are thrilled by it.

Instead of trying to build up fame through an unrelated method and then hoping some of those people want to check out your book, you want to build a platform that is based around your book.

Identify Your Points of Interest

What about your book will interest your audience? Is it set in Ireland and full of real Irish locations and traditions? Is it about being a dog owner? Does it feature realistic space travel? Does the main character suffer from cancer?

In order to reach people who will be part of your book's audience, you want to focus on your hook or premise or another major element. You want to choose something that is present and important for most of your book. Having a dog show up once won't be enough to satisfy dog lovers who were promised a book all about dogs.

Once you've identified your points of interest, you want to appeal to people with interest in those topics. There are a lot of ways to do that. For example, to gather an audience of dog lovers you might share pictures of you and your dog. You might review movies about dogs. You might follow people who make their own dog toys. You might post links to the latest research on dogs. You might share recipes for DIY fancy dog treats. Whatever you choose to post, you'll want to aim to interest your book's audience.

Build a Personal Connection

Then you have to take it one step further. You are not the first author who wrote a book about a dog. So once you have followers, the next step is to get them to like/trust you.

You don't have to be a Kardashian to connect with people on social media. Your personal business is your business. But you do want to show your personal interest in your book's topic. How can you connect with dog lovers? Maybe you own a Dalmatian. Maybe your share the journey of training your new puppy. Maybe your book was inspired by your grandmother and her pet pug. Sharing only these relevant details can build a relationship with your followers while still keeping your private life your own business.

Let Your Followers be Part of the Journey

As your book progresses, you want to keep your followers up-to-date on the major events: when you finish your first draft, when you get feedback or do an edit, when you sign a publishing deal, when you have cover art, when the book goes live on Amazon, when you hold a copy of your book in your hand for the first time, when the book releases. By treating the publication of your book like an adventure that they are on too, you will come across as friendly rather than pushy and they will be eager for updates.

Treat your Followers as People, Not Pocketbooks

The best marketers I know don't view their social media channels as a way to sell their book. They view them as a way to connect to readers. They encourage readers to leave comments, attend events, send messages, and feel like they are part of the author's publishing process. If you can genuinely connect with people on social media, particularly the people who might someday be interested in your book, you will start out with an awesome author platform.

Happy platform building!

Need more help? Check out my marketing tips and tricks Pinterest board for advice from book marketing professionals and prompts for blog or social media posts:

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