Guest Post by Eliot Parker
What is an author platform, and why is it necessary? An author platform is simply the ability to sell books because of who you are, as an author, and the ability to reach readers in a variety of ways.
Why does this matter for authors? The evolution of technology in publishing (through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online publishing platforms) has made it easier for authors to produce work and make it available to readers. However, that also means the publishing medium is more crowded than ever before, with thousands of writers hoping their works get noticed by readers.
In 2016, the Washington Post conducted a nationwide study of book publishing, accounting for all the various books published that year in all platforms and formats. The study found that over 600,000 titles had been produced that year. That means that over 600,000 books had been published in 2016 and were looking to attract readers and interest.
As publishing becomes more accessible to more authors, getting work noticed by readers is becoming more complicated. However, building an author platform is more than just finding readers and selling books. Building a complete author platform also means staying aware and abreast of opportunities for participation in writing workshops, conferences, book festivals, and other events directed towards the growth of the individual writer.
In terms of book sales, here are places many writers should consider:
- Gift shops at state parks – Almost every state park with lodging has a gift shop. This can be an excellent place to sell books, especially if you are a native of that state. Often, your book will be one of the few featured, giving it more visibility. Plus, most state parks buy books in large quantities.
- Creative arts “stores” – Often, these stories are distributors of items other than books made my local artisans. Some of the distributed items include signs, canned goods, crafts, and other homemade items. Do not be afraid to approach the manager/owner of the store and ask about selling books in the store. Often, the manager/owner has never been approached about selling books as part of their local items, and they are more receptive to the idea.
- Craft festivals and fairs – These can be excellent places to sell books. The vendor table fees can be substantial, but the potential to sell books is tremendous. Fairs and festivals feature plenty of people selling food, handmade items like wreaths and yard signs, but few of those events feature authors selling books. Readers attend those events as well, and they will be thrilled to see an author participating. A note of caution: often festivals occur for several days, and the days can be twelve-hours in length or more. Stamina is a requirement to participate in events such as this.
For development opportunities for the individual author, I recommend the following:
- Attend one large, national writing conference each year. This is a great way to network with other authors, attending readings, meet agents and publishers, and recharge the creative energy needed to write. Pick a different conference in a different part of the country each year, so you are free to explore more new places with the new friends you will make.
- Subscribe to BookBuzz. This website offers paid promotional services. Each month, they will send an email with many free opportunities to sell your works or free webinars and seminars available to authors that focus on the “business” aspects of writing and publishing.
- Subscribe to Authors Publish E-Magazine. This magazine comes to your inbox several times a month and features calls by publishers looking for new work as well as literary journals that are currently accepting submissions. The subscription is free and well-worth it.
There are other ways to build an author platform. Having an active social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is important, but there are other ways as well. Building a platform takes time and consistent effort on the part of the writer. In fact, as a writer, I have a goal of completing two tasks each day that will help me build or enhance my platform. That goal is attainable and does not require copious amounts of time to be taken away from my writing or other tasks.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to talk more about building an author platform.
Eliot Parker is the author of four novels, most recently A Knife’s Edge, which was an Honorable Mention in Thriller Writing at the London Book Festival, and is the sequel to the award-winning novel Fragile Brilliance. He is a recipient of the West Virginia Literary Merit Award, and Fragile Brilliance was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize in Thriller Writing. He recently received with the Thriller Writing Award by the National Association of Book Editors (NABE) for his novels. Eliot is the host of the podcast program Now, Appalachia, which profiles authors and publishers living and writing in the Appalachian region and is heard on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network.
You may purchase Eliot’s award-winning books HERE.