Question: What are the three most critical components of building a good author’s platform for fiction?
Answer: The three critical components of your author platform are exposure, relationship, and reputation. Let’s look at each one in turn.
This is how you are perceived by the general public. If you have a reputation of writing general fiction, science fiction, horror, etc. The base of your genre, but it is not limited to this issue. It also tells people of how well you write and if your abilities are ever increasing.
Example 1 – if you have a reputation of always having poor grammar in your work and not improving such, you will limit your audience. You need to always work on your reputation. Become someone who is always learning in the field of writing.
Example 2 – Your style will build a reputation for you as well. Do you place well timed hooks in your work or leave cliff hangers to pull the reader to the next novel. Are your setting believable, characters well flushed out, technology well understood.
Working on such in your writing will boost your reputation. It does not help your reputation if people who review your work keep saying, “Good story but the spelling and grammar really suck!” or “He keeps leaving gaping cliff hangers at the end of every single book, leaving a lot of loose ends.”
Guard your reputation and make sure it sparkles.
Getting known is one of the hardest things for any author. Most just think they can write a novel and people will flock to it. Not true. You need to have exposure through every channel you can think of, but concentrate more on those where your main audience spends their time.
An example of this is a Y/A writer of Romance using Google Hang-out to advertise their book. It would be a complete miss. First, Y/A readers are usually young, thus they would not be on Google Hang-out. Most people there are Science Fiction readers, and more importantly, Space Opera. I’m not telling you to totally ignore, for there are exceptions to the rule, but FaceBook is good if your target is the over 30 crowd and Instagram for those in their 20’s.
Get your website going with a blog and keep it updated. Don’t use those free ones either. Buy a domain name that matches your name. Install a blogging CMS and post to it regularly. Get a mailing list running for people to sign up for but don’t spam them! Maybe once a week send something out but not just to tell them to “Buy my book!” Make the blast of importance, like the upcoming special you’ll appear on or the awards that are coming up. Keep it simple, fast to read and informative.
Make your blog feed to all the social media sites. Create fan pages separate from your own personal one and direct people to that. The last thing you need is a fan on your personal page stocking you, looking at every aspect of your life. Keep your personal life and writing life separate when it comes to social media.
Get to know your audience. Reach out to them. When someone who likes your page posts something make sure you thank them with an acknowledgement of their words. Build the bridge, don’t burn it. If someone posts that they hated your book don’t get into a flame war with them. Remember, they bought your book! Thank them, maybe even ask what they didn’t particularly like about it, and tell them that you will work on being better. It takes a few seconds and that fan will not only buy your next book, but they will become a bill board for you. They will talk to their friends and say, “That author was really interested in what I had to say and he/she thanked me for my opinion, promising to be better next time!” Everyone loves to hear that their opinion matters. And when you write the next book, incorporating their idea, make sure you thank them in the acknowledgements. That fan will beam for a year and make people buy your book!
Every review you get means someone used their hard earned money to buy your book. If they leave a negative review never argue with them, just thank them and move on. Nothing will ruin your relationship with fans more than getting “bitchy” at one of them.
These are the three foundations of your author platform. Build them and you may just be able to sell a few books.