The Author’s Platform ~ Community of Interest

Every day, over 2,000 books are published.

There’s no way around it. Authors need a platform–a place to stand above the crowd and get peoples’ attention.

If you self-publish and don’t already have a congregation of admirers, there is no other way to sell books than to build a platform.

Well, I suppose, if you had the money and the time, you could have a boat-load of books printed, pack ‘em in a van, and drive all over the place meeting people and convincing them they need to buy your book. Technically, that’s still building a platform, even if it means erecting it in one place, preaching to the masses, packing it up, and moving it to another place 🙂

Even respected agents like Rachelle Gardner can make a case for traditionally published authors needing to build their own platform. Here’s a quote from her post, The Dreaded Author Platform :

“…I almost wanted to announce that I’d no longer accept queries from anyone who doesn’t already have a good solid head start on a platform. (I won’t draw such a clear line in the sand, but consider yourself informed.)”

The consensus opinion about when to start building a platform is well before the book is written.

Obviously, if you don’t have books already published, all you’ve got for building materials is yourself.

So, assume for a moment you have a great idea for a book, you think you can write it, and you want to build a platform.

The most rational opinion I’ve found for how to do it is to start a blog. Write about yourself. Write your opinions about writing, itself. Offer to interview published authors on the blog. Offer to interview authors who have yet to be published. You may want to guest post on others’ blogs and have them guest post on yours.

Study how to increase traffic to a blog.

After that, you may want to (many people say you must) begin linking to your blog on Facebook and Twitter. Many folks point out that being genuinely helpful in these social media spaces is critical–you can’t just go running around and constantly shouting about how great your book is. I agree, but it takes time to find the people who really matter to you.

Facebook and Twitter are, to me, two varieties of wild parties. You arrive and start talking to people. Most of them want to promote their own project. Sometimes you find people you can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with. Still, there a a ton of people and, again, it takes time to find the right ones.

There are other ways to build an author platform. Personally, I have no time for anything but what I’ve just indicated as a well-respected way to build a platform.

Well, no time except for my giving away as many copies of the manuscript of my book as I can. If this sounds completely ridiculous, check out the link to Cory Doctorow’s ideas in my last post

If you’re a budding author and decide to blog a platform for yourself, I can’t recommend a better site for learning how to shape a blog for maximum effect than Copyblogger!

Show what’s with that phrase in the title of this post: Community of Interest?

Well, one of the principles I try to follow in my life is: to achieve anything of lasting value, a person needs to work with a community of like-minded people. Whether they’re called friends, followers, fans, or associates, they are the key to establishing a project on solid ground.

To me, building an author platform and building a community of interest are the same thing.

Earlier, I said I have no time for anything but blogging and giving away copies of my manuscript. Actually, I was ignoring the time I use from the “extra” hours I have each day, those hours called free-time, when I venture into the virtual world, Second, Life, and participate in my community of interest on Book Island

I would love to hear your opinions/experiences/questions on this topic in our comments section 🙂
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