Building Effective Online Author Plaforms

George_Burns_2_Allan_Warren ADoesn’t every author have an online platform? Seems a silly question with all the books being published and their related promotions on Twitter and Facebook. Yet, many of the web sites associated with these writers are unfocused and ineffective according to Michael Kelberer who conducted the local SinC presentation on the topic, March 29, 2014. These web sites promote their books but not their brand, i.e., the potential reader has little or no idea who this author is or what his or her books are about.

Though authors as a group are used to researching the backgrounds for their novels and stories, they aren’t as comfortable researching strategies and techniques for marketing their writing. Urging us to “look at other people doing what I want to do,” Kelberer supplied tips to maximize traffic to an author’s web site, identified online resources to find and retain readers, and surveyed the web sites of a half dozen successful authors.

Though this information was extremely helpful and in many cases, eye-opening in its scope, the most important points he made during his two plus hours boiled down to two, one practical and one philosophic. The practical one was to use your research, visits, travel, and other information related to your books as subject matter for your blog. To keep readers informed and interested in your work, sharing the research and discoveries made along the way helps make authors real people to their readers.

The philosophical point dovetails with the practical: Be consistently true to yourself in your web site and social media presentations. If an author’s goal is to share his or her writing with readers, the web site should reflect the writer’s interest and personality. More than that, doing so forms a bond, a sort of online handshake that this writer is authentic, i.e. that the site reflects his or her writing and world view and are worth a perusal.

Comedian George Burns once said, “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” While authors are in the business of spinning yarns and telling lies, if they wish their writing to be read and expect people to pay for the privilege, their presentations of themselves must be sincere and genuine. Their author platforms are the most important part of establishing their online contract with their readers.

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