One of the biggest challenges authors face is getting their books into the right hands.
For your book to be successful, you need to be able to reach your ideal reader.
This is critical whether you’re publishing with a traditional publisher or going the self-publishing (or indie publishing) route.
I cannot stress this enough: your book’s success depends on you being able to reach your people.
What is an Author Platform and Why Does it Matter?
In the publishing world, your platform as an author is your ability to sell books through who you are or who you can reach. This usually breaks down into the following areas:
- who you are (i.e.: are you famous? an expert in your field? etc.)
- your personal and professional connections
- media outlets (including social media) that you can use to sell books.
Ugh, right? This is the point in the conversation where most writers start to shut down.
I want to write, you might be saying, not promote my book!
Besides, isn’t that what a publisher is for? Promoting my book is their job.
Yes, that used to be the case. But as you may know, publishing has changed dramatically over the past 20 years.
Very few authors receive much marketing or promotional support any more. Publisher save those budgets for their big authors (i.e.: NY Times Bestseller kind of big). Which means that most authors nowadays end up doing their own marketing and promo. Even if they’re with a traditional publisher.
Take a moment and let that sink it.
(I know. It doesn’t feel fair to me, either.)
What this means is that nobody’s going to swoop in and do the marketing for us. (Sigh.)
However, this also means that we get to remain in the driver’s seat. (Yay!)
It means that instead of a publisher selling our book to a bunch of people whose names we’ll never know (and will probably never see again), we now get the opportunity to get to know those people and start growing a relationship with them.
Which means that we get to reclaim our power in the publishing dance.
And that, my friend, can be incredibly liberating.
Especially if you’re in the book-writing business for the long haul.
Although this can be challenging to accept initially, it’s actually a huge opportunity for us as authors.
If you’re planning on writing a second book, you’ll now have a way to reach people who bought the first book. And if you’ve got a business that aligns with your book, then the two can work together to boost your income as well as help you claim your expertise in the online space.
And that, my dear, is pretty cool.
Why it’s Important to Grow Your List Before Your Book is Out
Too many writers wait until their book has been published before trying to grow their platform. But that can be a costly mistake. Without a community of readers waiting to buy your book, it’s easy to end up scrambling during your launch, pushing your book on friends and family, or sinking money into Facebook ads that underperform. None of which feels authentic (and some of which leaves you with an icky taste in your mouth).
There’s a better way to grow your platform, one that aligns with who you are and what’s meaningful to you.
Since it’s based on the principle that we buy from people we know, like and trust, it’s a more effective and sustainable, long-term marketing solution—and one that doesn’t leave you feeling like a slimy, used-car salesperson.
Now, this kind of marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick overnight scheme. It requires setting up systems and taking the time to grow relationships.
But it is much more rewarding.
It allows you to stay true to yourself and remain in your integrity throughout the book launch process because it aligns with who you are and what your gifts are.
Which, let’s face it, feels a whole lot better in the long run for everybody.
This is the kind of marketing I practice with my own writing as well as in my business.
Now, the most important thing about this aligned marketing is that it’s all about relationship. Connecting with your people, first and foremost, then growing those relationships.
And the primary way to do that is through your list.
What is a List?
A marketing email list is a tool for a) finding your people and b) growing relationships with them.
That’s all it is—a tool.
But a very important one.
Your email list is a list of prospective customers that you can contact when your book is ready for release.
Because without a list of readers to market to, your sales will fall flat.
And is that really what you want to happen to your beloved book? After all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into this book??
Didn’t think so.
How to Grow Your Platform Before Your Book is Out
Like anything else, growing a list doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a bit of elbow grease, and the first step in that process is learning how to do it right.
There are three basic steps to growing your platform effectively:
- Identify your book’s specific audience (i.e.: your ideal reader).
- Find places where they congregate online and in-person.
- Create content that will attract them to your platform.
Sounds simple, right? It can be, if you do it correctly.
But it can be tricky if you find yourself floundering around, without a clear plan and specific steps forward.
That’s why it’s important that you learn how to do it correctly.
I used to teach this kind of training to my clients, back when I was trying to be all things to all people. But you know what? I’m an expert in teaching clients how to write a kick-ass book, not in how to market it.
Yes, I can show them the basics, but over the years I’ve found that I’m much more effective if I can stay in my zone of genius (teaching clients how to write their books, coaching them through their blocks and helping them with their manuscripts). Best to leave the other pieces to the people who are experts in those fields.
That’s why I now send my clients to Amy Porterfield’s List Builder’s Society class.*
I’ve taken this class myself and applied the principles to everything I do.
Over the years, I’ve taken different classes on this subject by different teachers, and I wish I’d taken Amy’s class first. Not only would have saved me time and money, but also a lot of frustration. One of the things I love about Amy’s work is her clear and straight-forward teaching style.
That’s why she’s my go-to recommendation when it comes to list-building these days.
Not ready for a class quite yet?
Then sign up for her free training instead: How to Start and Grow an Email List (Without the Stress, Tech Confusion, or Crazy Overwhelm).
You’ll learn a bunch of great info right off the bat.
And it’ll plant the seeds for when you’re ready to dive in more deeply.
That might not be today, and that might not be tomorrow. But don’t put this off indefinitely, OK?
Because your book deserves more than that. It deserves to have you in its corner, doing everything you can to make sure that your book reaches the right people and all your hard work pays off.
Finding Your People Takes Time
Now, before you put this off for another day (or year), I want to lovingly remind you that growing an aligned community of readers takes time.
And that can be frustrating, I know.
When something’s new and different and we don’t know how to do it, it’s normal to start feeling overwhelmed.
This is usually when we shut down.
Throw in the towel. Put it off for tomorrow. Or the day after. Or next year.
It’s too hard, you might say.
I don’t know where to start.
That’s why I want to remind you that there’s no need to recreate the wheel. With anything.
Instead of trying to piece it together yourself, learn from an expert who can share their hard-earned wisdom with you, quickly and easily—and that holds true whether you’re writing your book, publishing, promoting, whatever. Getting help can be the difference in reaching the finish line.
Start small, my dear, but start! Take Amy’s free course to help you get started.
In the meantime, wishing you a wonderful week!
P.S.: Full disclosure: I rarely use affiliate links in my marketing, but Amy’s work is so important to my clients’ success that I’ve partnered with her to support you in getting help growing your list. If you decide to take her paid class, I’ll earn a commission. However, I would never recommend and/or stand behind someone whose work didn’t align with my own and who I didn’t trust implicitly with my clients. That’s why you’ll rarely see affiliate links in my posts. As I mentioned above, I’ve personally benefitted from Amy’s work, having taken this class as well as some of her others. She’s the real deal.
P.P.S. If you’re not sure whether to sign up for Amy’s free masterclass or the class itself, I’d suggest starting with the free masterclass. You’ll get some important foundational information to get off on the right foot. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if she shares an extra bonus or two with you if you decide you’re ready to join the paid course.
P.P.S.S: Registration for the next round of Memoir Mastery will open in early March. Keep an eye on your email–I’ll be sending out details next week!