I attended a talk recently on Creating an Author Platform at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. Our speaker was Sally Tickner, whose company Publishing Gateway provides marketing and PR services to publishers and businesses. A self-confessed ‘geek’, Sally specialises in technical writing but her expertise in marketing is relevant to any author.
These are Sally’s top ten tips for creating an author platform.
- Create a brand
Present yourself as a business – use matching headed paper, business cards, compliment slips – even match with your
blog, website and email signature. Keep all your communications consistent with each other.
- Write a compelling blurb/bio
Use the third person (eg as though someone else is writing about you). Be passionate but professional and try to show your personality. Think about what makes you unique; if you like you can include something quirky to get yourself remembered but avoid humour itself. Include where you live, your books, quotes from reviews of your books or comments on your style. For longer bios, try writing the top ten things people should know about you.
Subscribing works both ways. Subscribe to relevant sites to keep up with industry news, for example, The Bookseller. Get people to subscribe to you by encouraging them to follow your blog, receive your newsletter, listen to your podcasts and so on.
- Become a shameless social networker
When we think of social networking we usually think of Facebook and Twitter, but Sally mentioned social networks I’d never heard of. Her top networks were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, foursquare, GoodReads and Pinterest, but she also mentioned these networks that are particularly relevant for book lovers: GoodReads (record, review and discuss your book collection), GetGlue (entertainment), BookSwarm (book news and reviews plus the Bookbreeze newsletter), Kirkus Reviews (huge amount of reviews and archives of reviews), Pixel of Ink (free and cheap e-books), Bookhugger (an online UK literary magazine) and Bookdiva (women’s fiction). I’m also going to add another member of the ‘BookSwarm’ family particularly relevant to me and a lot of my followers, Bookbitz (news and reviews of children’s and young adults’ books).These sites enable you to browse and buy but also have the usual interactivity: Amazon, Nook (Barnes & Noble), iBookstore, Smashwords, IndieReader, Abe, Play, BookDepository.
- Consider Wikipedia
Sally explained that if you can get a mention on a popular page, your name will be seen by millions of people. For example, if you have written a biography of Elvis you may be mentioned on his Wikipedia page which has a huge hit rate (much like the man himself!).
- Make a video
Book trailers are becoming increasingly popular, with publishers producing mini-movies to promote new releases. You can make your own trailer or just film yourself talking, for example about your author journey or writing tips. I created spoof opening credits for the television programme mentioned in the booking I’m sending to publishers, Grindle.
- Get out there
Why not try real life? Apparently it’s quite useful when marketing yourself!
- Don’t dismiss traditional promo
The traditional press release still has a place in modern marketing. Sally recommended what sounds like a very useful site called Journalisted. You can enter the subject you are writing about in a search box and the site brings up a list of journalists who have written articles about that very subject, giving you the vital contacts you need.
- Be interesting
Have some interesting things to say. Us authors are a riveting lot, naturally, but it helps to have something prepared. Sally suggested a few questions to ask yourself:
- What inspired you to write?
- What’s your favourite place to write?
- Do you have any writing rituals?
- What was your childhood ambition?
- What’s your life motto?
- What is your book about?
- And the perennial – Where do you get your ideas?
- Create an author platform plan
Make a pledge to yourself that you will take some of the steps above, if you haven’t already. My personal pledge is going to be:
- Subscribe to the Bookseller website (the free one) and Bookbreeze
- Be more active on GoodReads and Pinterest
- Write a good bio
- Think about my brand
- Continue to post regularly on here
What are you planning to do to improve your author platform?
2 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips for Creating an Author Platform – advice from industry expert Sally Tickner”
Lou – great advice, and interesting that no-one’s responded. I wonder why that is. Do people find the whole field of self-marketing and social networking a bit intimidating. It’s hard enough finding the time to write well.
Maybe the next question is: where do we focus our efforts on first? Which of these outlets should be the first step?
What do you think? And how have your five pledges been going?
Intimidating, maybe – a feeling of not knowing where to start as a new author to promote a new title – definitely. Having had my first book for children self-published on Amazon only days ago, I’m lost in a fog of confusion about how to get my name/book known to the wider public, and there’s a pressure on too because building a reputation = book sales = income. So I found Sally Tickner’s list that Lou has published here invaluable.