Demystifying the Author Platform
Demystifying the Author Platform
Author Platform Series, Part 1, by Eeva Lancaster
This is Part 1 of a series of articles that will discuss the little details of the Author Platform.
Many authors get confused by the Author Platform. It's an awful lot of work, if you look at it in it's entirety. I've shared an infographic about it, which I hope helped put things in perspective. A concept is more easily absorbed if you can see the big picture. But, it's easier to savor and digest bite-sized information as opposed to a BIG IDEA - which can be overwhelming. I mean, where do you even start? Telling someone to save the environment will not get any results. It's too vague and unactionable. But if you asked them to recycle their plastics, they'd know exactly what to do. This is why I wrote this series.
If you haven't read my article about building the foundation of your author platform, I suggest you take a peek and get an overview first. Then you can come back here and we will discuss each section.
Part 1 - Write and Exhibit High Quality Content
When you're a new author, just like new freelancers, you have a fearsome enemy. Anonymity. That's defined as being nameless or without a name. An accurate description, don't you think? New authors know this, and it is their biggest fear when they publish their first book. The fear that nobody will read our work plagues most of us, keeping us awake at nights. No matter what some authors say, we published because we want to be read.
It's hard to be an unknown. If Taylor Smith decided to write a book, it won't be as difficult for her to find an audience. She's popular. People are more likely to buy her book, even if she's a terrible writer. Who cares if she even wrote it? Anything that is connected to her name, will be of interest to many people, especially her fans. New authors have no fans, even Google doesn't know who they are. Friends and family don't count.
New authors are not only nameless, they have no credibility. Why should people risk their $0.99 to buy their book? Out of the thousands of books being advertised, why should they pick a book by an unknown author? For this reason, we give some of our books for free, to give readers a risk-free chance to read our books.
We need to break anonymity - and a simple way to fight this enemy is to write and exhibit high quality content.
You accomplish 2 things when you publish regular content on the web:
1... Credibility You get to showcase your writing skill in your chosen genre. Like a portfolio. A sampling of what people can expect from your book/s. A way for people to peek into your mind, and know what you're about.
2... Searchability You improve your SEO or Search Engine Optimization. It simply means Google will have something to show, when someone makes a query about you. (Type your author name on Google right now and review the search results. What do you see? How many pages display your stuff?)
Create a Website or Blog
If you're not a freelance writer with a robust portfolio, the easiest way is to create your own website or blog. If you're a new blogger, use simple websites which you can easily design and update. Being an author is hard work, what with all the gazillion items you need to scratch off your To-Do list. You don't need a complicated website to maintain. Use Blogger, Simple Site, Weebly or Wix.
Once you have a site set up, get a domain name and hosting service. It adds a professional feel to your author website. www.eevalancaster.com has more authority than eevalancaster.blogspot.com. The former is easier to remember too.
I use Arvixe as my web hosting service. I get 1 free domain for life, and an additional 6 domain names. Pretty cool. Check out their affordable rates here. Yes, it's an affiliate site and I get a small commission when you purchase from my link. So, thanks if you do. But more than the commission, I recommend it because I use Arvixe for all my 5 websites. Never had a problem.
Choosing your Niche
Here comes the tricky part.... what would you write about? THAT is the mother of all questions. Jeff Goins says write from the heart and your readers will come. To write with a worldview. To find your voice. Those are helpful writing and blogging tips, But note that I follow Jeff Goins because I learn a lot about blogging from his articles. If he suddenly talked about stuff not related to blogging, or writing, I'd check the site URL. LOL. Maybe Google took me to another site.
You see, you get associated with the topics you write about. My friend Traci Lawrence is an inspirational and motivational writer. Her blog, and her book, Accept No Trash Talk has the same theme. I'm a nonfiction author, and I offer services to authors on my other site, The Book Khaleesi. So I write stuff related to self publishing, authors and books. Now, if Traci suddenly posts recipes on her blog, her readers would be confused. They visit her blog for empowerment, not food. If I talk about health and nutrition, I don't think people will be as interested in it, even though I've been a health and nutrition writer for many years. It is a fact that our blogs and websites establish our authority on whatever it is we write about. People visit our blogs because they need something specific, that we are able to provide. That's the reason why niche blogs have more subscribers than blogs that discuss everything under the sun.
So, again... what do you write about? I think we should look at the father of all questions instead of the mother. What do you want to be known for?
If you're a romance writer, you can write about relationships, post excerpts from your book, write a short story and give it away for free on your blog, anything related to your career as a romance author. The same applies to writers of other fiction genres. I know it's damn hard for fiction writers to find something to write about on their blog. Non-fiction writers have it easy. We can write how-to's and informative posts, and there's no shortage on those topics.
When you're determining what to to write about on your blog, think about the books you publish. What type of person would read your book? What would they be interested in? Another author friend of mine, S.J. Hermann, is a writer of paranormal suspense thrillers. He knows that people who read Morium will also love watching supernatural movies. So, he blogs about that. Very creative thinking on his part.
Author Identity - The Story of Anne Rice
My favorite example of sticking to your author identity is the story of Anne Rice. I loved the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches and I read all of them, several times. She was a dark fantasy writer, a genre I enjoy reading. Then, after several close calls with death, she had a change of heart. She returned to the Catholic Church, and wrote about angels and Christ. Out of loyalty and curiosity, I bought her new books. I'm sure they were good... but I didn't finish any of them. The stories didn't work for me. It felt so alien from her previous books. In 2012, she went back to writing dark fiction with The Wolf Gift. Her latest book, Prince Lestat, is sitting in my tablet. I'm waiting for the perfect time to read it. That's how happy I am to have her books back.
If you want to read about her journey as an author, you can check out Wikipedia. Her story is proof that you get identified with what you write. Readers expect to have the same experience every time they read your work.
Keeping Your Blog Relevant
Should you write about personal stuff? Only if you can bring the topic back to your blog's theme. Let's face it. As much as your blog subscribers like you, they're really NOT interested in what you did today, unless it relates to something they care about. Would you read my long post if I talked about the new German Shepherds that I'm planning to buy? Maybe if you knew me personally. But my subscriber's eyes would glaze over, and they'd hit the X or the back button after the first few sentences. It wouldn't be a relevant topic to them, unless I can somehow connect the German Shepherds to self publishing and books.
One of my favorite empowerment blog is The Green Bough, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. On some of her posts, she writes about her personal thoughts and daily life, BUT, she manages to empower and uplift in the end. She gives her readers a quick fix on every post, which is why they visited her blog in the first place.
We hear advise about writing topics close to our heart. I have a blog just like that, Blackcat's Cave. It's a personal blog and I talk about everything that interests me, from travel destinations to relationships to health and nutrition. I have zero subscribers. That blog will be getting a makeover soon. Readers might love my relationship topic, or my new smoothie recipe, but they will not subscribe. They know, that they will receive emails about topics they might not be interested in since my topics vary.... greatly.
Think about the purpose of your blog. You want to flaunt your writing skills. You want people to get to know you. You want subscribers who will be interested in the books you publish. You want people who are interested in your work. Write from the heart, but write for THEM... your readers. Give them what they need from you. Something of value to their lives and careers. Something that entertains and makes them forget their concerns for a while. Your blog is not for your own consumption. Always remember that.
Guest Posting On Your Blog
Posting on another person's blog has many benefits. You tap into that blogger's audience. That's additional exposure for you. If you and the blogger write about the same things, you might even get subscribers. If you're guest posting on a blog with a different theme, it's a chance to show your versatility. A writer is a writer, and you should be able to write interesting posts about anything.
Why do bloggers allow guest posts on their own blog? It also increases their blog's exposure. The guest poster will be promoting their post, and that will bring people to the blogger's site. Everybody happy.
When you guest post, don't forget to include a link to your blog and your book pages - and make sure you get full credit.
Become a Freelance Writer
Not only do you get paid to write, when you're credited for your work, you gain credibility as a writer. People pay you. You're a professional. You must be good, hmmm? It makes you less anonymous when you enter the publishing industry.
To summarize, write and exhibit high quality content and show readers a sample of your work.
You can do this by:
Creating a website and blog.
Guest posting on other blogs.
Becoming a freelance writer and get credit for your work.
You need to do this to:
Prove your authority on your genre.
Increase your credibility as a writer.
Strengthen your online presence.
That's it for Part 1 of the Author Platform. Just keep in mind that every little thing you do to promote yourself and your work, everything that comes out of you, will contribute to your author platform. Make sure they're ALL awesome. Don't publish anything when you're in a drunken stupor. You don't need to be perfect, but you need to be relevant. Be entertaining or helpful. Give value.
We're talking about online activities here. If you also engage in author activities offline, like book signings, post about them too and add them to your platform.
Our readers are online. Most businesses have an online presence nowadays. Being an Indie Author is a business. Make no mistake about it. Having a robust author platform is a must, if you're serious about your writing career. Don't expect immediate results from your efforts. Many authors have unrealistic expectations, and when they don't see the results they expect, they give up. They think a few posts and some promotions will increase their sales right away. It doesn't work that way. Like any career, you have to build first, before you see the fruits of your labor.
See you on Part 2 on my website. Building your ONLINE PRESENCE
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In Loving You: A Journey of Love and Self-Discovery by Eeva Lancaster
Unrequited Love... To love someone but you can not have them... Even if they love you back. It is one of the hardest things in life to accept.
In Loving You is a collection of 52 poems that tells the story of Eeva Lancasters love for a man she could not have. It is sad and painful, as the author shares her emotional journey and bares her pain and longing in her poems. In the end, Lancaster shares her hopes too, her triumphs and beautiful self realizations, when she finally learns to overcome
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