Whether you're traditionally published, going after a traditional publisher, or you're an Indie Author, you need an AUTHOR PLATFORM.
No, it's not the same as a soap box where you stand and tout your wares or voice your opinions.
It's the platform from which you reach out to your readers with authority, credibility and frequency. So it's about how visible you are as an author.
It's also part of your author brand. And it's an important part of marketing your books--that's why all authors need one.
And the reason you need to start building one now is that it takes years. That's because you need to take the time to draw people to you, relevant readers that is, rather than hard selling them your books via Facebook. That's called cold selling and it rarely works.
So how do you create an author platform? It's different for every writer and depends on your target readership and what stage you are in your career.
But as some general ideas to take away: produce a body of work on your website, social media sites, in magazines and other traditional media. This work must be recognisable as being from you in terms of your name, photo, images used. It must be consistent wherever it appears. This author visibility helps with discoverability--so people can find your books. If you're published, then talking gigs and giving workshops at conferences/associations are great, or getting involved in a relevant cause, association and even doing interviews on traditional media.
I'm not going into too much detail about what you need to do, as it can be overwhelming when put into a long list. That can mean not starting on the project at all. So I plan to tackle one item at a time and to give practical advice that worked for me--or didn't work as the case may be.
The first item on the agenda is how to get an author website, which should be high on your list of priorities. This is because your website is like your base camp -- it's where all paths lead. Whether you're talking at a conference, commenting on Facebook, selling a book on Amazon, or doing a video on YouTube, everyone who engages with you should be guided toward your website so they can find out more about you, contact you, and very importantly, subscribe to your newsletter which will announce your book launches. And that's where the marketing comes in.
If anyone would like to add how they created their author platform--there are many, many ways--then please do comment below. Brainstorming has, and always will be, an excellent way to learn, grow ideas, and think outside the box. So let's brainstorm together :)