Since joining the Lulu team, I have attended publishing trade shows around the country in an effort to keep up with industry trends. After a few years, I noticed a distinct pattern. Each year it seemed the industry latched onto a particular theme or buzzword around which all shows were organized. One of the first of these themes focused on the need for creating an author platform.
Once I learned what an author platform was, it seemed like a rather simple and logical approach to publicizing your work. All you need to do is set up a website, start a blog and interact with your fans on social media. Easy right? According to the experts, an author platform makes current fans feel connected to the author while at the same time attracting new readers thereby ensuring a steady flow of money into an authors’ bank account.
The thinking here is solid. If we conduct a quick online study we will find most successful, independently published authors already have an author platform in place – likely built by a member of their publishing team (another year’s theme). If you conduct a search for these authors on the internet, not only would their books be returned in the search results, but also links to their social media pages, discussion boards, blog posts, and articles – all of which contribute to their online reputation.
For new authors the question then becomes, “How can I get some of this search engine goodness for myself?” If you don’t have access to a social media team or a neighborhood kid to build your website, the easiest option is join a few discussion groups or to make use of another person’s platform by guest blogging. Both of which give you an opportunity to reach new audiences.
You may respond “I don’t write for free.” Well, yes you do. You write for free until someone buys your book. Once enough people have bought your book you can set your own price for articles. Until then, your best bet is to find a site that appeals to your target audience and pitch them an article. Most bloggers are constantly on the lookout for new material. So much so they will even let you plug your book in return for free, compelling content..
This strategy is a win/win for everyone. The site owner gets content to fill their pages. You get more search hits, a new audience for your work, free advertising, and a bump in your online reputation score.