Every author on the planet knows that they have to be visible and known to sell books but becoming visible isn't simple. It's time-consuming and often some of what we do could be time spent better if it were spent let's say, writing... It's super important to work out what things bring in sales and which don't, equally it's important to ask how much time should be given to certain tasks. Simply put, it's time to focus on the things that really matter!
First, let's define it. Your author platform is your presence on social media and the wider internet. It's all the potential 'internet baskets' you have that can catch potential readers as they fall through the net that is the internet... That was the worst metaphor I've ever written. Apologies.
There are some baskets (because as bad as the metaphor is, I'm going to keep using it) that are pretty much non-negotiable. These are the ones that really do need to both exist and be up to date. Your website and mailing list fall into this category.
Authors often forget the benefits of a mailing list until they're a little ways into their author career by which point they've missed out on potential sales and relationship building. This is in my opinion at least, the most important thing an author can do other than write. Every time you have a sale or a new book release, without a mailing list you're missing out on the return readership that we all want to see. This is the easiest way to keep in touch with readers. There are several good mailing list management sites you can use like MailChimp or MailerLite. The emails are easy to make, you can schedule them ahead of time and you can use it as a way to work with other authors by doing Mailing List Swaps with sites like BookBoast. Promote other authors to your list and they'll promote you, further increasing your reach.
The most important thing about your mailing list is making sure that it is joinable. Make sure you have links, plug ins and what not everywhere; your website, social media, everywhere. Doing a book signing? Take a tablet and invite people to join your list right there for a free bit of swag. Make sure your emails also get shared on your social media so that your followers can join if something in your email catches their eye. Perhaps more important that anywhere else, make sure to add a link inside the backmatter of your books.
One thing I've done in the past, was message Facebook friends to offer a free book if they sign up to my list. It's a great way to start a conversation too. I messaged about ten a day and found the majority signed up or at least wanted to know more about what I wrote.
Your website is your very own little corner of the internet. It's your home base. Start with the basics; a home page, about page, a sign up for your mailing list, pages for each of your books. Make sure you have your SEO is right. Keywords are essential. The are what will drive traffic to your website. As well as that a blog would be great. You can post updates to the blog while encouraging traffic to your site with new content. However, this can be a huge time user and doesn't necessarily increase your sales. However, its worth doing just to keep your website busy. I'd recommend posting to your blog at least once a month. Even if its just for book updates.
The most important thing your website needs is SIGN UP opportunities for your mailing list. I have one on each page of my website as well as a page dedicated to it.
Your Facebook Page
Facebook can be the biggest time waster of all for authors. Between my work for AFWB and my own Authoring, I spend far too much time on Facebook and not all of it is profitable. Facebook is the biggest social media platform and so I can guarantee your readers are on there. Just like you spend too much time on Facebook, so do they. This is by far the easiest way to reach them.
You can run Facebook Ads, which can if done properly be very effective. However, this isn't something to just do without research. This can be very expensive and unprofitable if done badly.
Make sure your Facebook Page info is in the back of your books and on your website. You want to get those likes. You need followers. You want them to be organic - people who actually want to be there. Invite your friends to like your page and run the occasional giveaway where they have to like your page to win, either during a takeover or direct from the page.
Keep the page fun. There's a good marketing rule that says 33% of what you do should be direct marketing; promos, cover reveals, sales, etc. Another 33% should be promoting other authors. What do you enjoy reading? What are you reading? And the last 33% should just be plain old fun!
Your Reader Group
This is a personal favourite of mine. As much as your page matters, I think a group has more potential. It's interactive and it's fun. I love my group. It's not massive but its full of people that I know love books and more specifically they love my books. I post info about my books, host our authors every week and I run the occasional giveaway. A lot of what happens in the group is pretty organic, it happens without much effort. You'll find readers that will become avid supporters and you'll never look back.
There are other baskets that you should definitely consider especially as you become more established. Here are a few of my favourites:
Twitter - This can be a huge waste of time but I make sure my mailing list emails are shared on twitter.
Instagram - Who doesn't love images? It's a fact that your book cover sells your book.
Bookbub - Doesn't require a lot of work and if people follow you there they'll automatically hear about new releases.
Booksprout - Again, minimum effort but your followers will hear about sales and new releases.
There are more of course, but these are the ones I'd recommend. I really hope you build your platform well but don't waste all your life in the tangled web that is the internet and especially social media. Remember your time is for one thing and one thing only - WRITING!