This is the first in a series of posts chronicling my journey to publication.
|Photo courtesy of Visual Hunt|
“So much to do. So much to learn.”
Okay, I finished the first draft of my debut urban fantasy last month. I’m pretty much done, right? All I have to do is polish up the manuscript, have it edited, and then upload it to Amazon. The champagne is cooling even as I type.
Hold on, not so fast. According to everything I’ve read, I should have been working on my author platform long before now. I should already have an author website, an email list, and a tribe of followers on social media. I should have already begun connecting with other authors in my genre. I should already have a small, yet rabid, group of superfans.
The sad truth is, I don't have any of those things. (Hangs head in shame) My focus the last few years has been on finishing my book, not worrying about how I would sell it. Luckily for me, I’m a slow writer, which means I still have plenty of time to accomplish these things before my book comes out.
But where do I begin? I know I need a dedicated author website, but what should it look like? How often should I send out newsletters, and what should they contain? Which social media platforms should I focus on? What should I put into my automated email welcoming sequence? I’ve spent the last two years researching all this book marketing stuff, but there’s a big difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In the end, I have to decide which approach works best for me. So, with all the aforementioned questions, what should be my very first step in my grand plan to conquer the book-reading universe?
Build a list of comp authors.
Not what you were expecting, was it? Think about it. If I want to evaluate the various techniques for building an author platform, what better way is there than studying how other authors go about it? Having a list of authors will allow me to:
- Compare their websites
- See how they engage with their readers
- Discover what social media platforms work for them
- Find out which editors and cover designers they recommend
- Lots of other things I haven't even thought of yet.
So how am I compiling this list?
Step 1. Find 20-30 authors in my genre, urban fantasy. I'll want a nice mix of A-listers, B-listers, as well as authors who are just starting out. Each group has different strengths. Finding them is easy. I read urban fantasy, so I already know seven or eight names of authors whose books I enjoy. By entering their names on Amazon, I can peruse their “also bought” lists and find more authors. This shouldn't take more than an hour.
Step 2. It’s important to find authors outside my sub-genre, too. In my case, there's epic fantasy, magical realism, dark fantasy, etc. Do their platforms differ from urban fantasy authors? If so, how? And I don’t want to forget science fiction authors either. My story weaves in some science along with the fantasy elements, so finding authors that mix fantasy and science is a must.
Once I have all these names, what am I going to do with them? I’ll tell you next time.