Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 3

In last week’s Self-publishing from Scratch post, the advice I’d give to myself was to tell others I’m writing a book even if I was finished writing it yet. Once family, friends and neighbours are told, how do I get the word out to the world?

By building a platform.

What is a Platform?

A platform is your stage. You can jump onto it and improvise; this works well for some actors. However, most of us need preparation before the curtain rises. Every act is planned, dress-rehearsals are done and make-up is applied. Ideally, you want to know what impression you want to deliver to your audience and plan your performance with that in mind. The last thing you want to do is confuse your audience or send mixed messages.

Authors use this stage to influence the audience to buy their books, to support their writing career and to share the news about their books to those they are connected with, either personally or in social media.

Googling “What is an author platform?”

An author platform refers to a writer’s ability to market their work, using their overall visibility to reach a target audience of potential readers. … The strength of a writing platform is measured by the author’s ability to use their influence and reach in order to sell books and boost their writing career.

Master Class:

How do I build a Platform?

The advice I’d give to me today if I was just starting out with my first book is simple: create a website. That’s it. Don’t dive into anything else right now. Focus on one thing and do it exceptionally well. When I have a solid following and quality content and if I want to add another feature to my platform (such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), I’d do so.

I highly recommend not joining every social media option available. There are more than a dozen, and no one can provide unique, quality material for all of them and still have quality time to write and to live a life outside of writing.

Why is a website first?

A website is an anchor for everything else. It’s a constant. It’s mine. I have full control over it. It’s both static and always changing at the same time. I have pages that remain the same unless I update them, and my blog page that changes with every post.

I have a better chance of this website surviving long into the future more than I do a page on Facebook, a media that many are turning their backs on. Everyone can view this website; only those with an account can view content and interact with me on Facebook.

At the very least, a website can consist of one page with a picture of my book cover, a descriptive blurb about it, links to buy it and an author biography. That’s it.

Of course, since I (as a new writer) am just starting out and still writing that book, Seeds of Life, which is just over 73,000 words written, that one page would contain the name of the book, a description of it and a short author biography.

Sample of a One-page Website

Over time, I could go crazy with my website and have dozens of pages and hundreds of blog posts. This is post #652 for this blog.

How long does it take to build a platform?

Long. That’s the short answer.

The long answer is anywhere between a few months and a few years. It depends on how much time I want to commit to it. Just starting out, I’d tell myself to commit three hours a week to it. What do I do with that time? Lots.

  • Learn how to create posts and pages and how to add features to my site, such as widgets
  • Write a blog post
  • Follow other blogs to meet writers, learn what they’re doing and comment on their posts
  • Read posts and articles on how to build a good website

Learning Curve

There’s a long learning curve to building a platform. If I start while I’m still writing my first book, I’ll have time to make mistakes, learn from these mistakes and make connections with other sites and writers. Making these connections is called networking. That’s important in all businesses.

The best time to write that novel and self-publish it was 15 years ago. The second best time is today.

9 thoughts on “Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 3

    • You’re welcome, Bea. At this stage, I have strong views on what I should and shouldn’t do. I’ve participated in a lot of nonsense over the years that just wasted time. Personally, I’d rather be writing, so whatever takes time away from that activity better be worth it. Thanks for reading.


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