An active author platform can often be the difference between poor sales of your book and making a living with your writing. The main parts of your online author platform are your writer’s blog, a newsletter, and social media. In addition, you will also need to be active in the physical world. You need to write proposals, queries, and manuscripts, do interviews both online and in person to promote your books, and go to conventions, book fairs and other writing events. All of these activities combined can be overwhelming to any author, no matter if you are an aspiring author or a pro with many novels on Amazon. It is a fact that maintaining your platform takes constant work. Sometimes we wonder when we have time to write our stories and poems!
No Wasted Ink , as of this writing, has a blog following of around 2000 and a twitter following of 25 thousand. Each and every one of these followers were found one at a time and added organically to my lists over the course of six years. I am doing the same with my new quarterly newsletter, Medium, and Instagram accounts. All three are small in subscribers since they are new, but in time both of these new legs to my platform will improve.
I’m often asked how I built such a large number of followers. It is by providing consistent and quality content to my readers. No Wasted Ink provides book reviews of classic science fiction and fantasy novels, interviews new up and coming authors, has a list of writer’s articles every Monday that I curate by hand, and original articles, flash fiction, and poetry. It is all offered up for free to anyone who wishes to follow. In addition, I have links to my writing, both free stories that are published in online magazines, and content to purchase such as novels, novellas, and anthologies that I am a part of. I consider my writer’s blog to be the cornerstone of my author platform.
Every post on No Wasted Ink creates a tweet on Twitter to inform my followers that there is a new post to read. WordPress also posts a link on my Facebook Author Page , LinkedIn profile, and Google+ profile. I maintain all these sites with automation. I create blog posts weeks or months ahead of their posting. I don’t need to be present to do more than write the post and set the information. While I do use automation to tap into all of these social media sites, I consider only Twitter and Facebook the two key parts of my platform’s automation.
Scheduling your time is the key to handling the social media marketing. I schedule myself two ways. The main way I do my marketing is to do a short session in the morning and in the evening, each no more than 15 minutes. I sometimes set a timer. In these sessions I will do any of the following:
* Write a blog post* Draft an email newsletter* Research articles for my Monday link posts* Write a Facebook status or Twitter update* Comment on a blog post on another author’s site* Share another author’s book, on a social media platform* Update my website or blog in some way* Draft a query letter to a magazine on a subject related to your book* Create an image on Canva with a reviewer’s blurb on it and Tweet it* Create an image on Canva of a quote from your articles and Tweet it* Load up future tweets to promote new blog posts* Write up a call for new authors to interview
I also have one other social media work session. It happens once a year in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This is normally a “dead” week for business. All the Christmas shopping is done, people are home with their families and not all that much is going on retail wise. Yet, there is this full week of time available. I use this week to do my annual blog scheduling. During this week I will create all the holiday posts for my blog and schedule them for the following year. I find quotes to post on Facebook and schedule them to post for the next year. I finish setting up my editorial calendar for the next year and make sure that all my regular posts are scheduled in my Filofax with a check mark drawn in for when I complete and schedule the post. I tend to work in six to eight-hour shifts during this week, devoting most of my work time to marketing. At the end of the week, I toast the New Year and go back to my usual 15-minute sessions.
Legs of Your Author Platform
While I use automation to touch many additional social media sites, my main ones are Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , and Medium . I put in additional time to each of these sites to enrich their content. Each has different information than the other. My website is a little more formal, without any chatter. It is filled with content for readers to enjoy, not be a horn for me to talk about my personal life. Twitter is my announcement site with links to my blog posts, medium stories, and links to magazines where my stories, poems, and reviews have published. On Facebook, I strive for a more informal feel with links, plus comments about my personal interests. Instagram are photos of my book signings, novels, and artwork.
For key posts, I follow up with additional tweets on Twitter. I post a followup tweet about each post once a day for a two week time period. I create these tweets on a low cost third party service called SocialOomph . I used to get by for free on Hootsuite and Buffer , but both services have limited their free services to a point that they are not able to keep up with my needs. For a beginner, a free account on either of the latter may be enough for your first year or so.
Having a Facebook Author Page is important, but I don’t view it as a platform for sending messages to followers. I am there because most people expect you to have a Facebook presence. It also is a great place to host an online book launch, post your upcoming live events, or do a Facebook Live video. For me, Facebook is a place to network with fellow authors, magazine editors, and publishers of anthologies. Most of the magazines that publish my short stories and poetry I found by networking on Facebook.
I’m new to Instagram, but find it interesting. It is training me to take more photos when I’m at events and document whatever activities I’m involved in. I post photos of my book signings, new artwork, fountain pens and other items of interest. My following is small there, but like all things, it needs time to grow. You are not able to schedule photos to Instagram as you can with other social media, it is more of a spur of the moment social media site. What I do is try and remember to take photos with my phone camera when I’m at an event and then create the Instagram posts afterward. It is not a perfect solution, but hopefully in time, I will improve.
The last leg of my author platform is Medium. It is a great place to have your work discovered by readers. It is easy to upload and create stories and there are many online publications in the service to submit your work too. I feature my shorter work on Medium: flash fiction, poems, and articles about the writing process. Some items are in Medium publications which gain me a larger reading base and others are only found in my personal profile where member followers can access my stories. I enjoy being a member and writer here. Medium is easy to read on my phone and I am following many interesting people that inspire me.
I hope you have found learning a bit about “the backend” of how to manage your author platform to be helpful. It is a steep learning curve, but once you master the process, you will be amazed at the benefits you will harvest from all your hard work.
Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency romance, and poetry. Her writing blog No Wasted Ink features essays about the craft of writing, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy’s short stories and poems have appeared in science fiction magazines such as “Quantum Visions”, “Altered Reality Magazine”, “Scifaikuest”, and “Far Horizons”. She has won Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future Contest and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop. You can join her quarterly newsletter to receive updates on her stories, workshops and appearances.
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