Originally posted on Instagram on April 19, 2020
What is an author platform and how do you build one?
This question has been sitting in my inbox from a few writers for a long time, and I apologize it’s taken me so long to address!
It’s a GREAT question. With a TRICKY answer. Because I’ve seen it defined lots of different ways.
A common definition: author platform = size of social media following (or newsletter list).
I think this is … shortsighted. Yes, those numbers can be a way of MEASURING your author platform, but they do not EQUAL your author platform. For example, there are plenty of writers who have 10k Facebook followers, and 10k subscribers…whose last book did not sell 10k copies.
Then there are authors who have only a handful of social media followers, who consistently make a living from writing and hitting bestseller lists because her people keep buying her books.
Whose platform looks bigger? The first. Whose platform is actually bigger? I’d argue the second. Don’t get hung up on numbers!
So what is author platform? My definition, and it’s specific to fiction writers (nonfiction is a whole different ballgame):
Your author platform is your ride-or-die readership—the people who consistently show up to buy your books.
✨ They’re your people.✨
(I’d like to take a second here to wave at MY people, many who are reading this post, because I’m so grateful for you!)
Three tips for building your author platform
- Brand. Authors with big platforms tend to have strong brands.
- Focus. Don’t try to be everywhere, and everything to everyone. I actually have a “reader avatar.” A fictional person I design and write for. Her name is Emma, and Emma likes romantic comedies, explicit scenes optional, and Instagram. Then there is Katie, who generally prefers a different sort of book than the one I like to write and is only on Facebook. I LIKE Katie a lot—I just know I can’t simultaneously delight her AND Emma, because they don’t like the same things!
- Have fun. Authentic happiness is a magnet.