The term, author platform, most often refers to people who are writing books – both fiction and nonfiction. The author platform is a recent creation of what’s left of the traditional book publishing industry.
Essentially, trade publishers insist on authors whose following can be quantified. The writer who has an email list of 10,000, at least as many twitter followers and is recognized by many on Facebook and other social media is much more desirable than a writer who has very little visible presence. Even better is the author who has all of this plus can command a high speaking engagement fee because they are well-known.
The reason trade publishers want this is because it’s much easier to sell a book written by someone who has a following and whose name is recognized then to sell one written by an unknown.
We could spend a great deal of time pointing out the fallacies of this is as the most important criteria, but there’s no point. At least today publishers demand an author platform.
To be sure it doesn’t have to have the numbers I used in the example, the publisher needs to know they have a ready-made audience to sell to.
Start your author platform now
If you have the vaguest notion you may want to write a book or two you probably should start building your author platform now. It takes a serious investment in time to create a platform publishers will appreciate. The good news is that even if you don’t write a book, your platform can be the basis of finding your audience.
Be warned that there are scams out there promising to build an authority site for hundreds and thousands of dollars. While it can be helpful to hire an expert, you shouldn’t do that is the first thing. Instead spend some time searching the term author platform. You’ll soon find sites that tell you what you want to know and can point you in the right direction so you can begin to build your author platform even before you start to write the book.
An authority site is a website that has excellent content about a particular topic that people come to trust. As a result the author becomes a recognized authority.
Of course, a recognized authority can start a website and get similar results. If you know a particular topic – whether it’s raising goats or stitching quilts – and you create a good website around that, with proper marketing you become a recognized authority
Simpler to say than to do
Both author platforms and authority sites are easier to talk about than to actually create. They can be an integral part of a marketing strategy and can provide solid support for freelance writing career.
Part of the talk about needing a niche to write about is actually driven by the recognition that author platforms and authority sites can be critical to success.
I think most freelance writers need an authority site on some subject in addition to their professional site. Setting up a blog and buying an appropriate domain name is pretty easy and inexpensive. In fact the price of entry is now low enough so if you start a blog on scrapbooking and find several years later you’ve tired of it you can either sell it or let it go. I have several domains that I started and have sold and several I may get back to some time or not.
Just as with other platforms there are some real scams out there promising you’ll make tons of money if only you invest with the XYZ company so they can build you an authority site. Ignore these. Instead sense of time reading about authority sites. You’ll soon get a sense of what works but was likely to work for you.
Do you have an author platform and/or an authority site? Give us a link in comments.
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Write well and often,