Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Tips for Building an Author Platform by Dana Sitar

TGIF, right?  

Today, Ms. Dana Sitar is stopping by with an info-packed guest post for you all.  In case you missed my review of her newest book, The Hart Compound, you can find that HERE.

5 Tips for Building an Author Platform
by Dana Sitar

Whether traditional or self-publishing, you're going to need readers. You have a number of avenues already available to you for connecting with potential readers and building your platform before you begin your first book. Establishing a following in your niche will help guide you in the development of your work and will eventually be necessary when you are ready to pitch it to editors and agents. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Develop a following through writing. Start with your greatest strength.You might not be able to get people to take the chance and buy your book, or convince them to even crack it if you're giving it away for free. So, give them a way to sample your skills first.
-Submit short stories in your genre, or articles on topics in your niche, to magazines, blogs, and websites.
-Write a blog! Create a community, and give readers a way to follow what you're up to.
-Write booklets of short stories or additional info on your expertise, and give them away.

2. Utilize your connections. Know who you know and what they have the power to do for you and your book. Keep track of all of the people you're in contact with in your field, because once you have a book to sell, they can help spread the word to their contacts and give you advice from their experiences. Consider:
-Well-known authors in your genre
-Experts in your field
-Leaders of organizations related to your field or topic
-Bookstore managers
-College professors
-Active public speakers
-Magazine or newspaper editors (online or in print)
-Influential book bloggers

3. Know how to use technology. Don't miss out on opportunities to gain followers because you're unfamiliar with social networking and blogging. The first thing any potential reader will do when they hear about you or your book is google you. A few things I note when I check out authors online:
-Email address -- Use Gmail or your custom domain, not Yahoo!, AOL, hotmail, or the default from your internet service provider. Use your real name if you can.
-Website/Blog -- Ensure that I can find out exactly what you do, what you've done, and how to contact you.  Create blog content that offers a value to your readers that they'll want to return for.
-Social networks -- Have at least a public Facebook profile or an author page AND a Twitter account. Use your real name as your handle if you can.

4. Narrow your focus. Not everyone will like your book, but some people will like it a lot. Figure out who your ideal reader is, then figure out how to reach them. Answer these questions:
-WHO are they (demographically)?
-WHAT are their interests?
-WHY do they want to read your book?
-WHERE do they look for new books?
-HOW can you build a presence in those places?

5. Create a plan and set goals. How many books do you want to sell? By when do you want to reach that goal? Make a calendar that includes the steps needed to meet those goals on time, and create lists of people and resources that you can use along the way. I have lists for marketing my books that include:
-Websites with links to my book
-Coupon codes and giveaway links
-Important writing and publicity contacts
-Book bloggers, agents, and writers to follow
-Communities of authors online
-Internet memes and Twitter trends to be involved in

What tips can you add for building a platform, or growing your existing platform?

Author Bio

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and author of the ongoing memoir series This Artists’ Life. Her latest release, The Hart Compound, follows the writer to her journalistic roots as Senior Campaign Writer to a Mayoral campaign headed by two Madison, Wisconsin comedians. Dana shares writing tips and anecdotes at her blog by.dana.sitar. She is @danasitar on Twitter.