Following my last post, What Is An Author Platform?, here are some low-cost, practical tips for how you can start platform building.
- Map Your Network
This one’s fun. Get some sticky notes, and find a big empty surface (I prefer a large whiteboard, so I can draw on it as well, but a large window works just as well, or a wall, or a big sheet of paper.) Write the names of all the people, organizations, or media outlets that might possibly help you sell your book, that you have an existing connection to—one name per sticky note. Put your own name in the middle of your wall or whiteboard and then arrange your sticky notes around, positioning them according to the closeness of the relationship. You may be amazed at how big your network is. Then identify the top 5 or 10 relationships, and ask yourself—are they healthy and current? Or have you neglected them? Think about ways to revitalize those key relationships—a simple email, a lunch invitation, a phone call.
- Identify Key Alliances
Make a list of the people you consider to be the top 5 experts in your field. Find ways to connect to those people. Are they on Facebook? If so, “like” or “friend” them, and start commenting on and sharing their posts. Do they blog? If so, comment. Are they speaking at a conference or giving a talk that you could attend? Consider doing so, and make a point of staying to meet them afterwards. These kinds of relationships will be key when it comes to getting endorsements for your book.
- Pick a social media platform…
That’s right, just one. If you’re already a Facebook junkie or a Twitterholic, you can skip this step, but if you’re one of the rest of us who are intimidated by the very words “social media,” it’s okay to start slow. See the Resources below for great advice on how to get started. Experiment!
- Get your URLs
If you don’t already own the web domain names you may need in the future, now is the time to reserve them. If possible, you should own www.[yourname].com and www.[yourbook’sname].com. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you would do with them right now. Just go to www.godaddy.com and register them. It costs less than $15 to reserve a URL for a year. While you’re at it, get your Facebook page name and your Twitter handle as well. (See Mari Smith’s great Resources section for advice on how to do this and more.)
- Join a Conversation
No matter what your topic, you can be sure there are websites or blogs dedicated to it. Get on google, find the top-rated blogs using the blog search tool, and join the conversation. Comment, respond to other people’s comments, find out if they accept posts from guest bloggers…
Platform building resources
There are a lot of great resources out there to help you build your platform. Here are a few that I recommend:
- Mari Smith is one of the leading experts on social media marketing – great for getting started on Facebook and Twitter. Check out the Resources tab on her website for lots of free info: www.marismith.com
- Publicist and author Arielle Ford is one of the industry’s pioneers when it comes to platform building. Check out this article on starting to build your brand: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arielle-ford/how-to-build-a-platform-f_b_583295.html and read her other posts on the Huffington Post, or visit her site at www.everythingyoushouldknow.com and sign up for her free newsletter.
- Author and former Literary Agent Nathan Bransford has a lot of great advice on his blog, including this post about why when it comes to social media, there’s no such thing as too early: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/social-media-theres-no-such-thing-as.html
Also check out:
- Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen on how to increase your public visibility
- Christina Katz with ten steps to build a marketing platform
- Joanna Pen with three quick steps to start your platform