What does the industry say?

In the publishing world these days, marketing is a shared responsibility between the writer and the publisher. While there’s still a perception that getting a publishing deal means all the marketing is done by the publishing team, this is no longer true. More and more, the onus is shifting toward the author to market their book; and in order to do that, you need a platform: a place readers can find your work, learn about you and what you write, and keep in touch.

When should you start your platform?

Any quick Google search will tell you writers should start their platform even before they have a published book. This is for several reasons.

  1. It takes time to build a platform.
  2. Having an established platform can make your book launch more successful.
  3. It allows you to start building an email list.
  4. You don’t have to do everything at once.

If you build a platform prior to your book launching, you’ll be able to spend the time working on your platform and then focus on the book launch rather than trying to do everything at the same time.

What kind of platform should you have?

A platform refers to a place readers can find you. These days, there’s many options including social media accounts, platforms such as Wattpad or Medium, your own website, and email lists. The only ones you own would be your website and email lists, where your data and access aren’t at the whims of the social media giants or other platforms.

Image by Chen from Pixabay

It is highly suggested to build your own website so that you can have a place that you control and an access point for building an email list.

FAQs

What if I don’t get my book published?

One of the roadblocks to building a platform is that all-too-familiar imposter syndrome so many writers face. Can you call yourself a writer if you don’t have a book published? Do you write? Then, yes. Building a website is one of those leaps of faith you need to take as a writer — just like sitting down to write and trusting that you can make it to The End. You won’t have much traffic on your website when you first fire it up and it probably won’t even rank in Google search without very specific search terms. If all else fails, you can build your website, learn the skills, and try again later if it doesn’t work out. But word of encouragement: it’s worth trying!

What do I put on a website?

If you’re unpublished, it can be hard to figure out what to put on your author website. After all, you don’t have a bunch of eye-catching book covers to put on there yet. But you do have your story! Who are you? Why do you write? What do you write?

I’ve created a free downloadable workbook for what to include on your author website. You can get it here:

I hate social media, what do I do?

I hear you! Social media can be tough. Some people love it and some people don’t. The best advice I’ve heard on this topic from social media experts is to find a social media platform you enjoy, (just one!), and get proficient at just that one platform. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t like X (Twitter)? No problem, maybe TikTok is your platform. Or Instagram. Maybe you’d prefer a slower-paced platform like Facebook? Experiment and find your people. Social media is much more enjoyable once you’ve found your niche.

How do I make a website?

I’m so glad you asked! Making a website involves purchasing a domain name (through the hosting provider, NameCheap, Squarespace domains or other), then building the website on your platform of choice. Website platforms include all-in-one builders/hosts such as WIX and Squarespace, and builder/host combos such as SiteGround and WordPress. I’m partial to WordPress (I love the functionality!) and I’ve built multiple sites on it. But do your research to figure out which website builder would work for your style. Hesitant about tech? Go Squarespace. Bit of a nerd? WordPress.

I’ll be launching an online course, WordPress for Writers: Build an Engaging Author Website, in January 2024. If you’re looking for step-by-step guidance on how to build an author website that’s not only functional but also aesthetic and professional, this is the course for you! No coding or previous web design experience required.

How much does a website cost?

This depends on which website builder you choose. Most are cheaper for the first year and then become more expensive.

WordPress.com has a free option (with limitations). WordPress.org requires hosting with a paid provider (this is what I prefer due to enhanced security and no ads). WIX and Squarespace are both paid plans as well. I’ve linked their pricing pages for the most up-to-date information.

There’s a lot more to choosing a website builder than the pricing. Make sure to do your research and compare.

Do I need to have a blog?

No! You can blog if you want to, but if that’s not your thing, that’s ok! The benefit of blogging is that Google ranks websites higher if they have regularly added content, which a blog allows you to do. Blogs allow you to develop your writing, get used to being “published”, and reach a wider audience, but they are not a requirement.

Do I need to start an email list?

Yes! An email list is the most reliable way to reach your audience. For an in-depth dive on this, check out this blog post by Jeff Goins. To start building an email list, you need an email marketing service (this is so you can send mass emails without being automatically labelled as spam). Some of the email marketing services include ConvertKit, MailChimp, MailerLite, SendFox, and FloDesk.

Next Steps

Dive on in!

  1. Create an author name for socials (for example you can find me on my socials as ajhansonwrites) and try out one of the social media platforms you think might work for you.
  2. Start researching how to build a website.
  3. Build a site!

You’ve got this, fellow writer.

Thanks for reading! If you found this post helpful, please subscribe for notice of new blog posts, book news, and for access to an exclusive launch deal on my new online course: WordPress for Writers: Build an Engaging Author Website (launching January 1st, 2024).

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