Guest Expert: Dana Lynn Smith
As a book author, you’ve probably seen the term author platform used a lot, but you may be wondering: what is a platform, how do I get one, and when should I begin?
Your author platform determines your reach in the marketplace and it’s important to your book promotion success. There are lots of definitions for author platform, but it basically boils down to three things:
If you’re hoping to land a book deal with a traditional commercial publisher, a strong author platform is critical. When publishers evaluate book proposals, they want an idea of how well known you are and how successful you will be at promoting your book once it’s published. A platform is just as important for authors who publish independently.
The best time to start building your author platform is before you write your book or book proposal, because it takes time to build your platform. But regardless of where you are in your publishing journey, you can continue to strengthen your author platform. Let’s take a look at the elements of a platform.
Branding helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace and makes you memorable. One of the most important parts of your brand is your author tagline – a concise and catchy description of what you do. Here are some examples of author taglines:
• The Publicity Hound
• The Productivity Pro
• The Risque Romance Writer
• Author of the Detective McGee series
• Writer of educational children’s books
Use your tagline after your name in your promotional materials and signature, like a title. For example, I refer to myself as Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer.
Your author photo is another important branding tool. Be sure to get a professional looking photo and use it everywhere, to build recognition of you. Professional doesn’t necessarily mean a studio portrait – think about how the background, pose and clothing in your author photo can be a reflection of your brand and the type of books you write. See this article for more tips on author photos.
Author branding can also include your logo, book covers, the color scheme you use, your distinctive style of writing or speaking, and your academic qualifications. All of these elements together constitute a recognizable brand that makes you makes you memorable and builds credibility as part of your author platform.
Take a look at your own branding and think about what you can do to strengthen it.
Your author reputation is a factor of how well known you are, what you are known for, and how
credible you are. Consider these questions:
• Do you have a degree, special training or extensive experience in the topic that you’re
writing about and/or in the craft of writing?
• Do you have (or can you obtain) a professional certification in your area of expertise?
• What awards or other recognition have you received?
• What kind of media experience do you have?
• How many people do you reach each month through speaking or interviews?
• How many people read your blog?
• How many articles have you written and posted or published in the past month?
• How well known are you and how much name recognition do you have?
• What leadership positions do you hold?
• Why should people listen to you or read your books?
Nonfiction authors can gain a reputation as an expert in their topic through such activities as writing books and articles, speaking and teaching, appearing on talk shows, being quoted in other people’s articles, and writing the foreword for other books.
Fiction authors may become known for their writing style and their expertise in writing in a specific genre (such as children’s, sci-fi, romance, or mystery) or for their niche within a particular genre (vampire stories, romantic adventure).
Your reputation and author platform can be enhanced by winning awards, receiving excellent book reviews, and getting testimonials and endorsements from celebrities and experts in your field.
What can you do to boost your author reputation and expert status and increase the number of people you reach? How can you highlight your credentials in your marketing materials?
When selling your book, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know!
To sell books in today’s marketplace, you need to be connected. Here are some examples of the type of connections that are valuable to authors in promoting their books and themselves:
Contact Database – Clients, prospects, colleagues, friends, and family.
Opt-in Mailing List – People who have given you permission to contact them.
Influencers – Celebrities, well-known people in your field, book reviewers, media, and
bloggers. These folks can help spread the word about your book.
Online Networks – Connections on Facebook, Twitter and other online networks, groups and
Blog Readers – People who read your blog or subscribe to the blog’s feed.
Professional Associations – Fellow association members and leaders. Serving in a leadership
position enhances your visibility within the organization.
Other Groups – Alumni associations, civic and service organizations, hobby clubs, etc.
What can you do to increase your connections and leverage the connections that you have? How
can you partner with others to extend your reach?
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of several book marketing
guides, including The Savvy Book Marketer’s Guide to Successful Social
Marketing. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana’s blog at
www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com, and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips
ebook when you sign up for her free newsletter at www.BookMarketingNewsletter.com.