How to Grow Your Author Platform

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As the Brand Engagement Manager at Lulu, there are a few questions I hear repeatedly from our users. One of the more common ones is, “How can I grow my brand and author platform?” Well, luckily for you, I’ve got some tips on how to do just that!

Before you can start to grow your audience and expand your author platform, you first have to know who that audience is. Building up your author platform will require very targeted and specific content that appeals to your audience. You have to know who that audience is to make unique content for them!

How Do You Find Your Audience?

Start by asking, “Who is my book intended for? Who am I trying to reach with this project?”

Questions like these are great when trying to identify your audience. Remember; you wrote this book for a reason! That reason could be to entertain, to educate, to inspire, or a number of other things. Defining your why is an excellent way to find who will benefit most from your book.

Once you have your why, you can start to build your target reader persona. If your why is to entertain and you’re writing a graphic novel about a group of robot cats that are trying to overtake the utopian planet Doggo, then you can start to piece together a profile of readers that would enjoy your book. For example, these will most likely be people who:

  • Like graphic novels, obviously
  • Enjoy interplanetary plot lines
  • Like robots
  • Like animals
  • Enjoy dystopian stories
  • Maybe like cats more than dogs

After you’ve compiled your list, you can start developing your target reader persona. My list is hardly comprehensive. Add as many characteristics as you can. Then narrow the list to identify specifics. You’re going to want to develop details about who you hope will find your book.  Finding the right people who will fit the description of your ideal reader will be much easier if you have a thoroughly developed persona.

Using Your Reader Persona

Once you’ve got the profile down – we’ll call our earlier example Jeffrey Newreader – then you can start thinking, where would this person hang out? What type of websites is Jeffrey visiting? Where is Jeffrey getting his information about new graphic novels? Is he visiting any discussion boards or participating in any forums? Is there one social media channel that Jeffrey is constantly using? What is Jeffrey wearing?

Just kidding about that last one but heck, why not?

Once you understand the places online Jeffrey is frequenting YOU need to be there! Post, comment, and respond. It’s inaccurate to think of your author platform as just a website or blog. It’s also your presence all across the web.

If you’re having trouble defining your reader persona, look to other authors. Find creators who are making similar books and see how they are interacting online. Inspiration is never more than a click away!

How Do You Connect with Your Audience?

Now that you know how to find your audience, let’s do a quick overview of the social media sites you will most likely be using for your digital marketing efforts.

Facebook

  • #1 social media platform in the world
  • 68% of adult social media users are on Facebook
  • Join Facebook Groups to build relationships or create your own to build a community of super fans
  • Host Events to build brand awareness and encourage audience participation
  • Go Live and interact with your audience in real time
  • Bonus – sell your books directly through Facebook with the Lulu xPress App for Shopify®!

Instagram

  • Growing rapidly – especially Stories, which can help you create an authentic connection
  • Over 60% of users are between 18-24
  • Use Stickers in Stories to connect with your audience through questions, polls, and quizzes
  • Go Live and interact with your audience in real time
  • Bonus – selling books online is possible with the Lulu xPress App for Shopify®!

Twitter:

  • Fast-paced platform with most users tweeting multiple times throughout the day
  • 37% of users are between 18-29 – most popular with people in their 20s
  • Share your favorite content easily with RTs
  • Facilitate lengthy conversations with Twitter Chats
  • Encourage engagement and show off your personality with Twitter polls!
  • Go Live and interact with your audience in real time

Goodreads

  • Highly curated community of authors and writers – great for up and coming authors
  • Answer questions from your readers with the Ask the Author feature
  • Host discussion groups about your book
  • Connect with your community through Groups
  • Raise awareness about your books with giveaways

Discover Social Media Insights

Once you’ve identified your target readers and where they hang out online, you need to dive into social media marketing to engage and attract those target readers. A major step in building your author platform centers on how you use the data your social media accounts offer: your social media insights.

All social platforms come with their own forms of insights. Whichever social channel you’re using, look to see what data and analytics are available. Specifically, look insights into valuable data such as:

  • Who your audience is
    • Demographic information
    • Interests
  • How many followers you have
  • How well your content or page is performing
    • Which posts create social interactions
    • Which posts get likes

Audience interests are one of my favorites because it will not only help you learn more about your readers but also give you ideas into overlapping communities you may not have thought about! Going back to our Jeffrey Newreader example, your analytics might reveal that many of your target readers are also into Live Action Role Playing. You may never have considered that group. But thanks to the interconnectedness of social media, you have a whole new list of places to look and communities to engage with who would be interested in your work.

Social Media Insights Pro Tips

Here are a few pro tips to get you started with social media analytics!

  • Start slow! Choose just a few goals to measure. These could include:
    • Total engagements
    • Follower growth
    • Total Impressions
  • Once you’ve decided what to measure, check your metrics consistently!
    • Pick a cadence that works for you – whether that be weekly or monthly – and stick to it
    • Over time, you’ll be able to get a sense of your averages for each metric on each channel. This will allow you to quickly notice when you’re above or below average and when it’s time to further investigate your content.
  • Review your top organic posts
    • Organic posts are your unpaid posts.
    • Replicate the content in your top organic posts and put ad spend behind it if you have the budget.
  • Each social platform is very different
    • Your audience on each platform will be different as well.
    • What performs well on one channel may not on another so don’t be afraid to try new and different content for each channel.

Let’s Get Physical!

Lets Get Physical Gif

Okay so we’ve covered how to get things popping off online, but what about IRL???

Think about it – as you’re scrolling through social media feeds on your phone, how many posts that you see today will you remember tomorrow? Probably very few. But when you have an in-person exchange with someone, there’s an opportunity to have a real and lasting connection that can be difficult to foster online.

As a content creator, it’s important to capitalize on the engagement and connections available online, but that doesn’t negate the value of having a physical presence too. People need to be able to put a face to your brand. And since our goal here is to build up your author brand (which in turn will help sell books) you need to be certain readers and potential readers associate your brand with a real (and awesome) person.

Local bookstores and library events are wonderful. But this is where you can really get creative and set your author brand apart. Here’s an example: if your book is a murder mystery and the main character loves wine and chocolate, host a reading at a wine bar or confectioner’s shop. Simple, but innovative! These events can be a great way to show off what makes your book and brand interesting and unique.

Plus – your offline presence can help build your online persona and provide great content for your social channels!

Those are just a few ways you can grow your author platform and reach more readers. Let us know what’s been working for you in the comments below!

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