"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Building Your Author Following

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Building Your Author Following

Now, you might think that building an author following is something you do after you have a book to promote. 

However, most successful modern authors will tell you that building a fan base after you’ve written your book is, in many cases, far too late in the process.

Mainly because, if you don't have what's called an Author Platform, you have no-one to promote your books to and consequently no-one to buy them. 

This is one of the reasons traditional publishers are loathe to sign new authors - because selling an unknown name is much harder than selling books to people who are familiar with an author's work.

It's about name recognition. 

If a publisher knows that an author's name is familiar within a genre, they believe their marketing expenses will not be entirely wasted - because people generally buy books from names they already know. 

The same is true for movies. Hollywood doesn’t make films based on bestselling books because they necessarily contain better stories. No, they make these films because they’re banking on the name and title recognition based on the book’s bestseller status. 

Similarly, celebrity names sell books, film and music. Not because the products are better than anything produced by artists who are anonymous, but because the public is drawn to celebrity status first and product quality second.

Name recognition is crucial to any and all success in the entertainment industry. Without it, your work is often dead in the water. 

The first book you sell will often be the hardest. But, because of the name recognition phenomenon, once you get over the first book hurdle, your commercial viability strengthens with each successive product.

Building an Author Platform helps enormously when you're selling your very first novel, nonfiction book or any other written project. For two reasons: 

1.      People trust writers who are seen to be writing, rather than just marketing their work.

2.      Your first flush of sales, no matter how small, will be enough to cause a ripple within the book publishing world.

As I mentioned last week, an author’s chances of becoming visible to the general public is greatly enhanced by self-publishing, especially on Amazon Kindle. 

But first you need to get a few things straight in your mind.

The biggest mistake you can make as a author is to think short term. There is no sure-fire way to go from nothing to selling a lot of books in a very short time period. 

Selling books - indeed, writing books in order to become a successful author - requires a commitment to the long term, say two to five years, if not longer. 

And that’s just to make it – as in creating a solid enough platform from which you may build a writing career.

Of course it is possible to create a storm first time out - if you do enough preparatory work. 

But much will depend on luck, word-of-mouth and the quality of your book.

Plus, there will usually be a ‘big idea’ within the premise of the book that will catch the mood of the public, if your timing is right – and you have sufficient capital to spend on promotion. 

You can do that - and make several thousand dollars in a very short space of time. But the preparatory work for this kind of venture can be months in the planning and execution. Lots more work than the average writer has the requisite patience for.

Plus, aggressive marketing is often very expensive. 

Having been online for over a decade - and spoken privately with lots of guru types who go for the quick kill, I can confirm that the majority of figures bandied by these people are misleading at best - and downright lies and data manipulation at worst.

It's easy to forget that reports of seemingly large sales volume, for instance, often ignore the phenomenal cost of advertising and admin that results in those sales. 99% of profit may be swallowed up by marketing costs. And, as any businessman will tell you, 1% is not a great return on investment. 

No, as an author, you don't want to go down the get-rich-quick road - because, basically, it's often an illusion.

If you want to be successful as an author long term, you need to start building your Author Platform as soon as possible. Yes, even before you’ve released your first book.

Over the coming weeks – in this free newsletter - I’ll be giving hints and tips on how best to do that for little or no cost.

Before we start, I want you to know there's an important caveat to everything that follows:

Whatever you do, whatever decisions you make, be yourself. 

Don't ever feel you have to do things because I – or some other blogger - told you to. And don’t do things because it's what everyone else seems to be doing.

As an author, it's important to maintain your integrity at all times - and that you only do what feels right for you. 

Maintaining your integrity pays creative dividends over time, and will definitely help keep your sanity intact on the road ahead.

Till next week.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell

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