What is an Author Platform?

Ingredients for cooking

The other day, my daughters asked if I could go to the store to get the ingredients needed to make an elaborate dish for dinner.

Happy to do my part, I went to the grocery store. But finding just the right ingredients proved to be harder than I expected. The recipe called for fresh Thai basil, because apparently “regular” basil wouldn’t do. They also wanted fresh rice noodles, which were only sold at the Asian market.

I dutifully went to three separate stores to gather all the necessary ingredients. It took me almost two hours.

But when I got home, I was satisfied. I’d done my part, and now I could relax while my daughters made us dinner.

Except that wasn’t what they had in mind.

“But we need you to help us!” my older daughter exclaimed, when I mentioned I was going to leave the next stage to them.

Many authors experience the same deflating feeling when they discover they are expected to participate in the marketing phase of their book journey.

Your Job Isn’t Finished After Writing Your Book

Don’t expect this to be you after you finish writing your book

Most children’s writers understand the days when authors could focus just on writing are a thing of the past.

Whether you are a published children’s book author or working toward that goal, you need to embrace promoting your book as well.

You may not aspire to be a bestselling author. That’s fine. But if you want to make writing for children your career, you’ll also need to help sell your book.

Not only will book sales potentially help increase your income, they are important for building your writing career. Authors that sell books are authors that publishers want to work with.

Remember, publishing is a business. All the publishing houses need to make a profit to survive. And where does that profit come from? Selling books.

So what can you, as a children’s writer with no marketing experience, do to help maximize book sales?

One piece you can focus on is building a robust author platform.

What is a Platform?

An author platform refers to the strategies an author is using to raise their visibility toward the ultimate goal of selling books.

Platform is often used in the technology space to refer to the system for different kinds of software. In a blog post I wrote about websites, I reference website platforms. In this case, I’m talking about the system you use to build your site.

That’s not what we are talking about here.

Think of an author platform as a figurative stage where you wave to your potential fans, trying to get their attention.

(Look at me!) Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

Today, an author platform usually means having an online presence. This includes your website, having an email list, being seen on other websites and online publications. It often means being active on social media.

Some authors are not very comfortable with the online space. In that case, you could build visibility by becoming known in your community through school and library visits, and speaking at conferences.

Do You Have to Have an Author Platform?

It depends.

What are your goals when it comes to your children’s books?

There are many children’s book authors who have successfully published books and have a nice career who haven’t prioritized building an author platform.

But are you are interested in raising your visibility so writing for children can be your full-time job?

Then yes, you need to have an author platform.

The biggest hurdle to constructing an author platform (sorry, but I can’t help but make use of this “building” theme!) is time.

Just like everything else on the journey to becoming a children’s book author, it takes time to pull together all the necessary pieces.

I know, I know, I’m sorry.

But that’s why the best time to start building your platform is before your book is even published. The sooner you lay the groundwork, the more prepared you will be when your book is ready to launch.

In my next post, I break down the different parts of an author platform, and how you can get started building one.

A good first step is to take advantage of my free author platform checklist.

It should help streamline the process so much, you might even have time to make a multi-course meal for your family.  

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