Last week, in Sunday Musings #14, we kicked off the series of posts on book marketing. This week, we’ll get right into the first topic: what do you stand for as an author? We’ll discuss author platform, why it’s important to find your focus and how to devise a great tag line that represents your work. Enjoy!
Author platform – your base for success
Author platform is a term that’s been around for a while, and every time it’s used, it’s interpreted slightly differently. Jane Friedman gives a great definition on her blog:
“… an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.”
That’s it in a nutshell: readers come to you because you are a trusted resource in your field, genre or trope. It also means that you are visible to readers that might like your work, i.e., they can actually find you. While author platform is most often used for non-fiction books (as in, you are very well known in a special field and visible in the relevant publications), I would like to expand on its use in fiction, and in romance in particular.
Become the go-to writer
This is the first part to build a successful author platform in fiction: you have to know what you want to stand for and tell your readers about it. What are the types of stories you write? Especially in romance, readers have very specific expectations – do you write Regency historical romance, shifter erotica or contemporary slow burn LGBT? Be very clear about this, and focus on your genre or trope.
If you have very different styles in some of your books or series, also tell your reader about that (e.g., angsty vs. light-hearted stories).
It’s also very important to know how to talk about your gerne. Readers search for specific terms so be sure to use them when describing your work. For example, it’s handy to describe exactly what to expect from your book at the end of a blurb (see also Sunday Musings #13 for more on writing a great blurb).
But first and foremost, your work has to actually stand out in your genre or trope – so study the masters and become one yourself!
The second part of the author platform in fiction is your visibility, and here I’m looking mainly at the opportunities of social media, web presence and book platforms. We’ll go into some of them in detail over the next few weeks, but ensuring a consistent presence on the web, in the places where readers will look for new books and authors, is a big step to successfully establishing your author platform.
Consistent messaging: your tag line
You should tell your readers right out of the gate what to expect from you, and do this consistently across all media. How do successful brands do this? They have a tagline (or slogan). Successful authors do the same:
- Skye Warren – “Author of dark romance”
- N.R. Walker – “Autor of LGBT Romance”
- Santino Hassell – “Cynical New Yorker by Day, Romance Author by Night”
Mine is: “Slow burn romance that quickens the heart”.
This line can be used on your website, newsletter, Facebook, and wherever else you’re visible. Another cool thing you can do with the tagline is to stylize it as a graphic that stands out in your followers’ social media feeds.
Crafting the perfect tagline
So how do you find your perfect tagline? As you can see from the examples above, you could take a number of different approaches:
- Talk about your genre, subgenre or trope.
- Use terms that your readers usually connect with your genre.
- Use something about your person (origin, current place of living, personality).
- If it fits the tone of your books – be funny or mysterious.
It depends very much on what you’re writing, but also how you present yourself as an author. If you’re very outgoing and open on social media, you might want to allude to that in your tagline.
Writing tip of the week
This week, I like a post from Grammarly that highlights an important building block of writing life: taking a break! So be good to yourself, step away from the computer and continue fully recharged.
Fiction read of the week
“Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@cked“, by S.J. Goslee. What a fun, spirited YA coming out novel. Funny. Honest. Clueless Mike Tate… It also has a romance that sneaks up on you, and ticks all my happy slow-burn boxes. Recommended!
Bits & pieces
Next week we’re going to look at the first step to create visibility – your author website.
See you next Sunday!
Books and resources mentioned in this bulletin:
- “A Definition of Author Platform“, by Jane Friedman
- “You Need a Break: How to Ease Into a Productive 2017“, by Grammarly
- “Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@cked“, by S.J. Goslee
- My new gay romance True Colors will be released on March 14th.
- You can get a free e-book by signing up for my newsletter
- Disclaimer: All links to books in this article are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you make a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost for you if you purchase the books via these links!
Session #14 – book marketing intro
Session #16 – your author website (1)