Sunday, January 2, 2022

Your Author Platform - Is It Ever Too Soon to Start?


 

 By Karen Cioffi

Newbies to the writing arena have many questions about creating an author platform. And, the most puzzling one is whether they need a website before they have a book published or in contract.

In fact, I’ve recently been questioned twice about whether a newbie with NO book on the publishing horizon should bother to start working on a platform and more specifically on an author website.

Both individuals felt it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

It’s important to know that this, though, is far from the case.

Creating a website at the get-go is putting the horse before the cart. It’s one of the forces that will pull you forward and help you establish your online platform, your presence and visibility.

So, the answer to the title question is NO.

It’s never too soon to begin your author platform or your author website if:

- you want to be a writer or an author
- you intend to submit manuscripts to agents and/or publishers
- you intend to self-publish a book

The time to get your online platform started is RIGHT NOW. And the foundation of your platform is a website.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends

When one author mentioned she was writing a children’s middle grade book and didn’t have a website, I responded that it was a mistake. I told her websites are an essential part of an author’s online platform.

Her reply caught me by surprise. She was advised by a well-known and respected institute for children’s writing that she should wait until she received a book contract before creating a website.

If this were 10 or 15 years ago that advice would make sense. But, today, agents and publishers want to know what the potential new author’s platform is beforehand.

The size or lack-of-size of an online platform can make or break a contract.

The powers-that-be expect you to have a website in place and be involved in social networks before you even submit a manuscript. They expect you to be a big part of the marketing involved in selling the book.

Jane Friedman, Media Studies instructor at the University of Virginia and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, advises that authors must cultivate a relationship with readers every day of your life. And she advises that you start TODAY.

Why do you need to start your online platform TODAY?

In a single word, the answer to that question is TIME. Establishing an online platform takes time.

It takes time to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It takes time to develop a relationship with your readers. It takes time to develop trust. And it takes time to broaden your reach and acquire followers/connections.

Real life example:

One of my former clients created a website. She also created pages on two of the major social networks. She did all this way before she started to get her book written.

The results? She has thousands and thousands of followers on both social networks. I’m talking about over 30,000 followers at the time of writing this article.

You can be sure I added this information when writing the query letter for her.

Do you think this will make a difference in a publisher or agent’s view of this new author?

You bet it will.  

They’ll know she’s able and willing to help sell her books.

Since your website is the foundation of your author platform, it’s absolutely, positively necessary to get a website setup and optimized as soon as possible.

It’s from this focal point, your hub of information, that you will draw the attention of the search engines and readers. You may even catch the attention of a visiting editor, publisher, or literary agent.

Your website is also the place you will get readers to sign-up for your mailing list – further building your marketing reach. It’s the place you will begin a long-term writer-reader relationship.

Think of your author website as the launching pad of your book marketing platform.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, a successful children’s ghostwriter with 300+ satisfied clients worldwide, and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For children’s writing tips, or if you need help with your children’s story, click the link above.

You can check out Karen’s books at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/books/

 


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7 comments:

lastpg said...

Karen, your article is spot on. Websites are a must for authors. In my experience, websites can be simple, too. One of the authors in my SCBWI chapter began with a simple one-page website. Then she went on to win multiple awards for her books. Since then she has announced the awards on her site and included links where readers can buy her books. That's it. I learned a lot from what she's done. The awards speak for themselves. People are drawn to her books because of them. She makes herself available to appear in person when requested. And her books are selling like hot cakes. In a nutshell, I think our platform comes down to our original idea for a book, how much people want to read it, and then have a website where people can learn more. So, our book(s) must be enticing enough for people to want to read them, followed up by people wanting to learn more at our website(s).

Karen Cioffi said...

Exactly, Linda. The website is also a place to list your reviews, a couple of interior illustrations, and an about the author page, among other things. But bottom line, it's about creating a good book that people want to read.

Mplcreative said...

Karen, This is such valuable information. I've known writers who want to write but don't like the idea of plugging their own work. Writers MUST market so readers know about their books. A website, even a simple one, makes all the difference. Bravo for reminding us all.

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

Thank you for this valuable article aboout author platform. I believe every writer needs a website and a platform. It has many different purposes. Happy New Year,

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Karen, your "now" theory is perfect. Don't forget to look back at all kinds of platform possibilities. Most everyone has something they did in high school that might look good on a query. Maybe a winning debate team that would show a talent that could be transferred to TV appearances. Everyone has something even when they are sure they don't. I tell them, "You aren't thinking creatively enough." In other words, writers shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that a platform is only about online numbers.

Happy New Year All!
CAROLYN HOWARD-Johnson

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

PS: Karen, I love the idea of publishing or listing reviews on our websites. And don't forget to get permission to send me your favorite and I'll extend its exposure on my #TheNewBookReview. Submission guidelines are at bit.ly/FreeAlternativeBookReview or search the tabs at the top of the home page for lots of free help with reviews at http://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com.

deborah lyn said...

Great tips Karen, Thank you.
Yep, the time is now, it pulls you forward to reach goal. Having a website reflects you are creditable & worth watching!

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