When I finished my medical thriller, SECRET THOUGHTS, I considered it a great mystery. Little did I know that the real mystery was yet to come: The Author Platform! While much has been written about creating a platform for a literary work, there is no right way and no one-size-fits all. The components needed for a successful author platform are varied and subject to great debate. Even the language of marketing is unsettled, strange, and surprisingly intimidating, even to an expert of the written word.
I realized quickly the need to use Social Media to get the word out, in an efficient way, and without going broke. I have a strong computer background, so I understand the Media part. But for the solo writer, nerd, and chronic workaholic, the Social part presents a great challenge. Using twitter, facebook, googleplus, goodreads, youtube, and other sites, I spread the word online. I’m using open source software, Concrete5, a CMS (Content Management System) from a Seattle based group for my author website and blog. Concrete5 is free and easy to use for the somewhat computer savvy, but the excellent add-on widgets will nickel and dime you. Being my own webmaster is liberating, but labor intensive.
Using iMovie, Shutterstock, and Adobe Elements, I created my video trailer. Elements is cheap, powerful, and easy to master. It’s not Photoshop, but with some clever work-a-rounds it will do the job, at a fraction of the cost. In Elements I created art for video, print ads, online ads, business cards, postcards, and my book covers, including the ACX audiobook.
Components of an author platform must be broad and interrelated, or in new speak: “Cross-Platform Marketing.” This means that at book signings, I promote my video, website, and ebooks. No contact ever escapes without at least a promoted link or a business card. I make sure every clerk, waitress, and salesman knows about my book. If you want reviews or likes, then you must ask for them whenever you have an audience.
The author platform is a means of providing content beyond your books. To readers, you are not an author! You are a “content provider.” I’ve listened to fan feedback on Social Media, at book signing, and meetings. As a result of requests, I’ll be rolling out an interactive forum for writers of medical fiction. Many writers have asked me how I use software and online resources, so I’m planning to produce some instructional videos.
You need broad based heals to stand steady, flashy colors to grab attention, sturdy structure to hold you up, and innovation to keep going. It’s not easy for an author to walk in Platform Shoes!