The writer’s presence online is a given these days. Long gone are the days when an author could hide away from the public, writing quietly in a shed in the woods, just being all mysterious. Now, you gotta have an author platform.
There are two forces inside me battling at any given moment. One force is the side of me that loves creating online content. It’s the side of me that created The Evergreen Author Platform Bundle, and it’s the side of me that designed The Author Platform Planner.
The other force within me is the side that wishes to run away, live off the grid, and only ever write in a notebook and never think of publishing.
For the most part, the online content creation side of me wins. Not only because I enjoy creating stuff on the internet, but because I like being intentional and proactive about how I’m perceived. And it definitely helps when it comes to marketing books.
Having an author platform isn’t all bad.
So, with that, I thought it would be fun to talk about what the writer’s presence online is and why it matters, and how you can use your author platform to better represent yourself and your work.
The Writer’s Presence Online
This will surprise no one, but the writer’s presence online is all the stuff on the internet made by or about the writer. A lot of it you can control, and in some cases, others are doing the talking about you.
I recommend all writers have their own website. You don’t have to use it to blog or sell books directly from your site. But you do need to own your author name as a domain so readers can find you.
Your website can be as static as you’d like. It can be a single page with links to where people can find you on social media and in online bookstores. Or it can be more complex. You can add a blog and several pages to your site.
Ultimately, know that there’s no right or wrong way to have a website. You just need to figure out what will work best for you. And I recommend also considering what your readers may want from you.
002: Social Media
As I get older, social media makes my skin crawl more and more. But alas, we press on in the name of the author platform.
There is no one particular social platform that a writer needs to have, but a writer should have at least one. Think about where your readers are. What demographic do they belong to? And once you’ve figured that out, go to that social media platform and stake your claim.
For example, if you have an older audience, Facebook is where you should be. A more nonfiction audience? Get on Twitter. Are teens your audience? TikTok is for you.
And of course, you can have multiple social media profiles. Just do what feels right to you as a writer and what you have energy for.
My newsletter is my favorite part of my online platform.
Sure, I love this blog, but I get to be more open on my newsletter, and not worry so much about keywords or traffic. It’s where I share news about upcoming releases and where I post information about sales.
For the most part, my newsletter is where I am the most “me.” It’s where I share behind-the-scenes information, and where you get me sharing more personal stuff.
004: Where you show up
Now, not everything about you online is under your control. Think announcements for events you’re speaking at, or blog posts about your books, or even podcast interviews.
All of that stuff is part of your presence online as well, and it can expose you to new audiences. So take this seriously.
The writer’s presence online isn’t just what you post. It’s what others are saying about you as well.
What to Do with Your Author Platform
Every writer gets to choose how to use their author platform. And what works for one writer may not work for another. It’s a balance between finding what you like to do with your online presence, and what your audience expects. There are some ways to use your platform that work for a lot of authors.
001: Blog or vlog.
Blogging and vlogging are great ways to share information about what you do. Whether you write a blog post about the inspiration and research for your novel, or vlog the process of writing some chapters at a retreat, blogging and vlogging are great ways to connect with your audience.
If you’re interested in trying either, I recommend starting by building an editorial calendar. From there, you can create your posting schedule. If you’re interested in doing either, check out this post on how to write a blog post, or this post on your first blog post.
And I have this post about using YouTube for your author platform.
002: Share updates.
The publishing process is dark and full of terrors. So, using your platform to share updates about where your current project is can be good for your readers.
Most of the time, you’ll just be telling your audience about how you sent the manuscript off to the editor, or maybe you’re revealing the new book cover. But sometimes, you may need to update them about some technical difficulties or something that’s gone wrong with the paper supply chain.
Using your platform for transparency is a great way for you to build some trust with your audience.
003: Give behind-the-scenes information.
Okay. So I’ve said “behind-the-scenes” several times. But what does that look like?
Share pictures of your messy desk in the writing process. Show your audience what your research binder looks like. Did you create an awesome plotting spreadsheet? Let your audience see.
You never have to give more away than you want to, so if there’s something particularly sacred about your process, don’t post it to Instagram or your blog. But you can always share what a day in your life looks like. Readers who love your work will love to see how the proverbial sausage is made.
004: Host giveaways.
Your platform is a great place to give some stuff away. So, as soon as a new book is out, give some copies away. This will generate some interest for your book, and probably increase your following.
You can host an open giveaway, or open entries only to those who have preordered a digital copy. It’s completely up to you. Just make sure you’re adhering any rules or laws that might apply. Depending on where you live, you may not even be able to host a giveaway. Or a social media platform may require specific rules or disclosures.
005: Be your own hype person.
At the end of the day, your author platform is the place where you tell the world what you’re doing. So don’t be shy.
Post as much and as often as you want. And when you do, make sure you’re telling the world what you’ve been up to. No one is going to care about your work as much as you do, so you need to be the one that’s screaming about it form the hilltops.
The digital hilltops, that is.
Share how excited you are for your upcoming releases. Share your back catalog. Keep telling people what you have out there.
How Do You Use Your Author Platform?
How do you use your author platform? Is there a writer who uses their online presence well? What do you like to see from the writers you follow online?