About two months ago I posted an article about building an author’s platform. Quoting my favorite book on the subject, Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz, a platform is best described as “the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential, or actual readership. Platform development is important not only for authors; it’s also crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors. Your platform includes your Web presence, public speaking, teaching, your publication credits, and any other means you have for making yourself known to a viable readership.”
For this post, I wanted to explore platform development and branding for fiction authors. Most writers understand that marketing falls NOT just to the publisher. Increasingly, the author must participate in all aspects of promoting their work. This concept is nothing new for nonfiction writers. In fact, good nonfiction book proposals include information relating to marketing, including the target audience, how the book fits into the marketplace (niche) and what distinguishes it from others within the same niche. Nonfiction writers have learned that finding a niche, branding yourself as a leader in that niche and promoting yourself related to the niche are necessary if you are to rise above the sea of nonfiction books available to readers.
Things are different for the fiction writer – different, but just as necessary. Most writers don’t consider niche and marketing when crafting their book. Even when they are done and have to find an agent, they seldom think in terms of book proposals, marketing plans and positioning. (Honestly, most writers I know cringe at the mere thought of this stuff.) As writers write their queries and make their book trailers, they don’t typically think of their readership as a marketing group. But maybe they shoul.
Maybe we ALL should.
We need to take charge of our careers and our stories by treating everything as if we are in business. Because in fact – we are. And as business people, we must spend the same amount of dedication to marketing our product as we did to crafting it in the first place.
Everyone has heard of the difficulties facing every aspect of the publishing industry today. Now, more than ever, we must understand our readership. We must commit to learning about the trends of our niche and and what makes our book unique and marketable.
True, nothing happens without a good product – without a good book. But, while we finish the revisions, and send out the queries, we need to work on our own marketing straegies. We must determine who we are as an author, what our niche really is and how to build and connect with our readership in a meaningful way.
For this week, I encourage everyone to start with the basics – Defining yourself as an author. Who are you as an author? What is your goal? If you said you just like writing good stories, I say go deeper…WHY do you like to write good stories? (Even if you think you know all the answers here, go through this process periodically – your answers will change over time. Your platform is evolving, just like your voice as a writer.)
For me, I write to inspire – to show the different aspects of humanity in ways that encourage connection. My goal is to inspire readers to read more, writers to write more, and people to feel more fulfilled. I’m not saying I achieve this every time – heck I’m not even saying I achieve it some of the time. But I work towards this goal EVERY TIME.
If defining yourself as an author is too hard, start with step one…Why do you write? Figure this out, and the rest will begin to unfold naturally.
Next week I will be posting on marketing for my blog chain. It’ll be a great excuse to look at platform development more deeply. Until then, check out Christina Katz’s books or website. She has some great examples of platforms.
Coming later this week:
- Motivation: What drives your characters?
- WIP Wednesday
- And of course, 40 Days of Gratitude.
Happy writing and please be sure to leave a comment. Let me know how things are going.