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If you aren’t doing these five things as part of your author platform, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
There is always room for greatness, and your author platform is no exception.
Something I learned early on that has stuck with me to this day is that less is more with basically everything in life – including great prose.
Some of the most profound works I’ve read are only a sentence long, and just like any great piece of prose, your author platform should be quality over quantity.
Think about it this way: a new reader comes to your site looking to buy your book. Your author website is their first impression of your writing. If they find a grammatical error on the homepage, their bar on the meter of “should I follow this author” drops.
Here, on The Jinapher, I don’t teach getting a new reader; I teach getting a fan. What’s the difference?
A fan actively follows your writing from platform to platform and is fully engaged with what you do. Every author wants fans, no matter how humble.
You want to hug your published book and know that there are people out there that cherish it. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. That feeling, however, will not come without a polished author platform.
Below I’ve outlined some helpful tips I’ve learned over the years for maintaining a well-kept author platform. I also recently wrote this post on indie author marketing that may interest you.
Maybe this seems like common sense, but I personally fail with this from time to time. I get so excited and wrapped up in getting my work out there and promoting it that I forget to do that double check.
I cannot stress enough how much I dislike going on an author’s website and finding a typo. It immediately turns me off as a reader.
You should never, ever rush your author platform assets. Instead, take your time developing the content and the ultimate value your readers will experience.
Sure, there may be design issues. Maybe your logo is off or a link is broken – I can forgive that – but a misspelled word from an author? It’s just a pet peeve, and I know I’m not the only reader like this. I get that typos happen, but you should be vigilant with your editing, which brings me to tip #2.
Seriously, it can even be your mom. Just get a second, even third, pair of eyes on your content.
Let me be clear, we aren’t talking about your book. Sure, proof that, too, but we are talking about the assets that will drive your book’s sales: social media posts, your author website, blog posts, lead magnets, etc.
Social media is casual, right? You don’t need a proofreader? WRONG.
Social media isn’t meant to be “casual” when it’s part of your author platform (unless your brand is super casual); it’s meant to be a fun, personal way of expressing yourself to your fans on a professional level.
That rule of thumb pretty much applies to all of your content marketing materials.
Remember: what will a new reader’s first impression be of you and your brand? Do you really want it to be Facebook or Twitter drama?
I’m not saying to not be interesting or creative, but I am saying to do so on a level you won’t lose sales over. At the end of the day, that’s the whole point of an author platform.
This is usually where I get a big, exasperated sigh from the author I’m talking to – algorithms. Immediately, it’s, “How am I supposed to remember every social media algorithm or every search engine rule?”
Well, first, people do it every day – but that’s beside the point. You don’t need to learn every algorithm. You just need to learn the basics, so when you create content for your author platform, you’re adhering to what’s going to convert, i.e. get you sales.
I plan on doing a post that really goes into depth on machine learning algorithms because it’s 2019 and let’s be honest – automation is everything for staying sane. However, today, I want to focus on the key points you need to know:
Yes, automating social media is a must, but you need to be checking in on each account daily, anyway. This is because social media platforms can’t drive traffic to you if they don’t know what kind of traffic matches your niche.
For example, say you write fantasy fiction. Then, you should interact with other fantasy fiction authors, join fantasy fiction groups, and comment valuable advice and encouragement throughout the fantasy fiction community. This will show, whatever social media platform you are using, that your brand is fantasy fiction based.
When someone new joins, for example, Twitter, and they are a fantasy fiction writer, then Twitter might suggest you as someone to follow because you’re actively engaged with the fantasy fiction community.
No matter the social network, they will reward “team players”. By interacting and really taking charge of a specific platform, the algorithm will feature you to others because that’s how they want people using the platform.
This goes for both social media and search engines. A keyword is essentially a single word or short phrase that communicates to your target audience. For example, the keyword of this particular blog post is “author platform”, because everything I’m discussing relates toward someone looking into building out your author platform more.
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I highly recommend Neil Patel’s UberSuggest tool for finding great keywords to leverage. I have also found that Facebook and Pinterest both have great keyword suggestions when you go in to create an ad for their platform. You can also do something as simple as using the search bar on any platform.
For example, if I want this blog post to rank well on Pinterest, then I’m going to start there for my keyword research. In the search bar, I typed “author platform”, then I let Pinterest do the rest. It suggested the following:
Right away, I now have three more keywords I can add to my pin description of this post. I can do the same on any other social platform, too. This is called keyword research, and it’s crucial you learn it for the sake of both algorithms and SEO. Why? Well, how do you think people you don’t know and have never met locate your content? When they search those keywords, and you’ve used them!
Algorithms for search engines (and social media) are well-oiled machines. They don’t go outside of their designated parameters unless engineered with advanced machine learning, and even then, they only feature content that sticks to their best practices.
Several SEO best practices can be applied to SMO (Social Media Optimization), as well. However, I firmly believe you need to start with SEO, then move on to SMO. Your author website is your anchor. It’s where all of your marketing strategies should lead back to in some way. That means, your website should be equipped with SEO best practices to (a) keep conversions high and (b) bring in lots of organic (not paid for) traffic.
Once your ‘headquarters” is fully stocked, then you should branch out to its accessories: Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Pinterest, etc. A lot of authors think they should start with social media because that’s where the followers are. However, a successful website is really like the head honcho of the whole operation. You need to nurture it with keywords, backlinking, and readability (to name a few SEO best practices).
A CTA, or Call to Action, is exactly what it sounds like: words that drive results. You’re already a great writer. Now, use that skill to practice a bit of marketing writing. It’s not as hard as you would think!
Whenever I’m crafting CTAs, I like to recall those old commercials that would slap the word “Wow” or “FREE” across the whole campaign. Another good one is the physical slash through the price and then saying, “Call today for a newer, lower price!” That line, right there, is a CTA. It’s a gimmick, yeah – but it drives action. Some other examples are the commercials for various diet plans, like WeightWatchers, or fitness equipment, like BowFlex. They always have the cheesiest commercials and taglines, but guess what? I remember them!
CTAs can be used across social media, your author website, your author blog, and especially paid ads. You want to include your main keyword within your CTA. For this post, I might say something like, “Ready to amp your author platform and validate your book’s worth? Tap the banner for publishing success.”
You want to address these main points within every CTA you create. As much of a “gimmick” as most CTAs seem, they are actually very strategic.
So many authors make the mistake of living the life of the lonely, friendless, brooding author. If that’s who you are, then go for it. However, being a writer doesn’t mean you need to stay in the corner!
There are some really fantastic writing communities to join and be part of across social media. So, if you are shy and like a lonely lifestyle, then you can still be part of these connections.
Here, I’d like to go into Pinterest boards you can join that will not only help your exposure but also connect you with some other authors! Please keep in mind that these are related to my niche. So several of these are for posting writing tips.
I suggest, if you don’t have an author blog and just want to share your book, check out the collaborators for each group. Go to their profiles (many are authors) and look at the other group boards they are part of. You’ll likely find some in your niche, too!
FIRST is The Jinapher Community Group Board! If you are a subscriber, which you have to be to read this, then you are allowed to join this group board on Pinterest. It is a perfect spot to promote your book, as well as your blog posts. All I ask is you post pins via the 2:3 ratio rule.
Want to create some beautiful pins? Try Canva! I love to use Canva for my pins. I also used it to build my logo and several widget images across this website.
Of course, if you would like one place for all of these boards, you can visit my Pinterest profile here.
Those are the five mistakes I really wanted to point out to you guys, today. I just run into so many authors struggling to make their author platform a success, and they are completely disregarding these five things!
You can make a real difference for your book and its sales just by following these simple tips.
What are you struggling with? Is it something I haven’t mentioned? Be sure to leave me a comment below! I am always on the hunt for new topics to blog about.
Until next time, I wish you the best of luck in your author platform endeavors!