Imagine a time, ages ago, when agents and publishers handled all the marketing allowing writers to just write and hone their craft. I doubt such a time ever existed but, if it did, that time has certainly passed. Today, many traditional publishers expect their authors to have an online platform before they publish. For those on the indie (self-publish) track, a platform is even more vital.
For authors, an online platform consists of sites that gather fans and readers; a website, blog, e-mail newsletter, and social media. Such a platform is essential to discoverability, marketing, and legitimacy as an author.
Creating online legitimacy, often referred to as social proof, is demonstrated by the number of fans and followers. The more an author has, the more they are perceived as trustworthy and reputable. You might not like that about human nature, but it is often true and, as an author, you can use it.
I don’t have space in a single blogpost to provide how-to details, but I’ll show what I’ve done with my website to achieve the goals of discoverability, enhance marketing, and gain social proof.
My website address is my name, KylePratt.me. I spend fifteen dollars a year to keep that short and easy to remember domain name. If a reader knows my name, they know my website. The website has links and widgets for every book I’ve written and every social media site I use.
The landing page of my website sets the mood for many of my books. I want this first page to convey that I’m a serious author and, if a visitor likes post-apocalyptic or speculative fiction, that they will like my books. From the landing page, there are links to my stories with reviews and worldwide distributors. Wherever a reader is on planet Earth I make it easy for them to buy my books. Scroll down this page for an example.
Fans enjoy interacting with authors and social media provides the means. Links to all my social media sites are on the website. For me, Facebook provides the most response, but that varies depending on author and genre. Another way I encourage fan involvement is on my website Reader’s page. There, I collect pictures of fans holding my novels. I’ve started encouraging this and hope in the future to see pictures from exotic locations.
By creating an easy to find website that displays my books and encourages interaction with fans, I establish myself as a serious, but approachable, author. While I’ve shown this using the concepts of discoverability, marketing, and social proof, it really boils down to one thing—making a living. If you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, readers will hunt for you online, but most authors have about a minute for potential readers to find their website, build trust and sell a book. If they can accomplish that quickly they gain a sale and a fan.
Meet the Author
Writers can spend a lifetime creating quality stories but never break into the traditional publishing world. For years Kyle Pratt worked that treadmill but, seeing the changes in the industry, he left it behind in 2013 to begin “indie publishing.” Within a year he earned enough to quit his 9-to-5 job and write fulltime.
Titan Encounter, his debut novel was released in 2012. This was followed by the post-apocalyptic series Strengthen What Remains. The first book in the series, Through Many Fires, came out in paperback, Kindle and on Audible in August 2013. Within two weeks the novel appeared on the Kindle Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic bestseller list, reaching the number position on December 2, 2014. The second book in the series, A Time to Endure, reached number one on the Amazon Kindle war fiction genre bestseller list just over a month after release. At the same time Braving the Storms reached the number eight spot on the bestseller list.
Author and Speaker Guy Kawasaki terms this new way of publishing as being an “APE,” an Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur. Using the growing arsenal of technologies including Kindle, Kobo, print-on-demand, ACX, and the other tools of the digital era, Kyle believes it is possible for many more writers to be successful APEs.
Today, Kyle writes fulltime from his farm in western Washington State. You can learn more about Kyle on his website, http://kylepratt.me/ or join him on Facebook. Click here to subscribe to his newsletter.