Building a loyal, engaged fan base takes time and commitment. Ideally authors would begin building that fan base during the writing process so they could share their journey with the growing fan base.
Besides writing the book, building a fan base is the author’s second most important job.
Fans who know and like the author would watch and take part in the creative process as the author posts about writing, finishing chapters, editing, creating a book proposal, finding an agent, and the exciting ups and downs of submitting the proposal to publishers. Fans would celebrate with the author as the book is sold and continue their behind the scenes journey through editorial suggestions, jacket design, marketing and promotion plans and ultimately reward the author by purchasing the book at publication time.
I’d like to see publishers give every author a base building checklist with their contract and strongly encourage the author to begin or continue building a strong social presence during the time between contract and publication.
The elements of a good platform building checklist could include:
1. A Facebook profile in the author’s name. Building a following on Facebook starts with your inner circle and grows. Inviting those closest to you, the author, is the ideal place to start spreading the word about your book.
2. A Facebook fan page for the book. There are many applications and bells and whistles that can only be used on a Fan Page. Additionally, a Facebook fan page is indexed by Google and is, therefore, a powerful opportunity to increase the author’s ability to be found in a search–both for his or her name and for the topic and keywords that best describe the book. Live links to the author’s website, on the information page, help keep moving fans toward the home base. iFrames custom designed tabs can be used to create a rich experience, including selling the book directly from Facebook, offering live author chats, a look at rave reviews, and regular updates on the author’s tour or live events.
3. A Twitter account in the author’s name. Twitter is a broadcasting and engagement platform that helps introduce an author to a large audience and invite them back to the author’s homebase for a deeper conversation and relationship.
4. A YouTube Channel in the author’s name. Almost every author can benefit by creating a home for their videos. What videos some authors might be asking? The ones you need to create. Interviews, messages to fans, reports from the book tour, other short videos that help the fan or reader feel as though they have a relationship with the author. Authors can even make their still photos into short, professional videos using a free and easy to use service called Animoto.
5. A blogsite or website. The blog or website is the home base and all of an author’s interactions on other social sites should eventually invite the author back to that home base to take an action. That action can be purchase the book, sign up for the newsletter, check out the live events calendar or leave a comment with a question. Here authors can run contests, giveaways, and increase interactions with fans to build a strong subscriber base. Using multimedia such as video or audio messages combined with photography will increase fan engagement and help create a desire to revisit the site often.
The key to platform building is consistency, authenticity, value and creativity. Post daily. Share your personality. Give readers something they can’t get elsewhere–your work. Make your fans and followers feel as though they’re in a special club. Call them by name when you respond to their comments. Thank them for taking the time to comment. Let them know you’ve seen and heard them. In other words, building a social platform is similar to building a friendship circle
Authors, keep writing, and add some social writing to your daily activities to create a vibrant fan base of readers eagerly waiting for your book.
What fan building activities do you regularly engage in? Do you have ideas you’d like to share with this community? Please let us know. We’d very much appreciate the time it takes to leave your comments and will respond to every one. Thank you.