Your Author Platform is Not a Number, It is a Connection to Real People

So often we talk about the importance of an author platform to:

  1. Identify the ideal readers for your writing.
  2. Create a meaningful way for you to reach those readers.
  3. Prepare for a book launch.

I was listening to a podcast this week and heard this quote:

This podcast episode discussed how to launch a book, and did a wonderful job of illustrating why I encourage writers to consider their author platform, marketing and book launches years before they feel they need it. You can listen to that episode here.

This is a great reminder that an author platform is not a number. It is not how many followers you have. Your platform as an author is your ability to communicate with real people and develop a sense of trust and connection to them.

Now, that doesn’t mean that social media, websites, newsletters, blogs, can’t be a part of one’s author platform. But it is what happens through those channels — the manner in which you and your writing connects with a reader — that is the true meaning of the platform.

That is why I always talk about the concept of Human-Centered Marketing. The process I teach is not about buttons, algorithms, and gaming the system. I’m not encouraging people to go for quick, but hollow, wins.

Instead I focus on the practical steps to truly identify who your ideal readers are, how you can reach them, and how that turns into a manageable process that grows over time.

It is not uncommon for me to see an author who has tens of thousands of followers, but very very little engagement. Many of their posts have almost no activity: no likes, no comments, no shares. That is because the number itself doesn’t matter. Without an engaged human being on the other end of it, the number is meaningless.

An author shared this with me this week who just published her first book:

“I would’ve given up and the manuscript would be sitting on my computer drive, if it had not been for you. I found your book and your site and began to follow you. I have taken a couple of your classes. You helped me believe that I could do social media in a way that felt comfortable for me. That helped me believe that I could reach the readers who need this story. I just began posting about my book yesterday and the Facebook post was shared 14 times and commented on by more than a hundred people. In the publishing economy that’s nothing. But as I think about the effort in terms of touching one person at a time, it’s such a joyfilled experience.”

This, of course, made my whole week! That she decided to finish the book, publish it, and through her efforts, she is really reaching people.

In the past few weeks I have shared a lot in my blog, newsletter, and a Facebook Group I run about social media. In that process, writers have shared their concerns with social media. Some are overwhelmed by it, others have very real concerns about negative impacts of social media. I created a video yesterday to try to address this with a piece of advice: make it small. Make your social media efforts focused on fewer people in order to make it meaningful. You can watch the full video here:

That video was shared to my Reader Connection Project Facebook Group, which you can join here if you like.

I want to leave you with two interviews I’ve shared with writers recently.

Teru ClavelLast summer, Teru Clavel released her first book: World Class: One Mother’s Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children. It was published by a major publisher (the Atria Books imprint of Simon & Schuster), was well reviewed in major media (Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc), she appeared on the TODAY Show plus other TV and radio, and was interviewed on dozens of podcasts. She’s got a blog on Psychology Today, plus shares on social media and so much else. In this episode she gets radically honest about the book launch process – what worked and what she learned along the way. Including this: “This is not easy. There are so many rejections. For one success, there were hundreds of pitches where I got rejected.” You can listen to my interview with Teru here.

Shannon ConneryFinally, how does one find the time and energy to embrace creativity after the bottom has dropped out of their life? In my interview with Shannon Connery,PhD, she gets honest about what it means to build a life filled with intention, creativity, and happiness. She says: “Now I find creativity really energizing and engaging. I feel inspired by the process. I wouldn’t have done any of this in my old life. Before I was stripped of everything, I cared what people thought, I cared about fitting in. I would never have just started a podcast and put it out there. But because I went through all of that, and now have an authentic life with friends, and people who are 100% supportive if I want to write a book.” You can listen to my interview with Shannon here.