#Marketing: Building an Author Platform in 5 Easy Steps by KJ Waters

KJ Waters
KJ Waters is the Amazon best-selling author of the short-story called Blow and time travel series Stealing Time. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, is in development and is slated to be released in the spring of 2017. In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit. She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.
KJ Waters
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KJ Waters
KJ Waters
KJ Waters
Blondie's Custom Book covers specializes in book cover design using professional photographer and designer sevices. Covers can also be designed using stock photos. Visit their website for more details. Twitter: @BlondiesBookCov Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlondiesCustomBookCovers?ref=hl

Building an author platform is undoubtedly a daunting task. KJ Waters has been a familiar face around here, and I am continually grateful for the relationship we have fostered, first as Twitter friends, then as editor and author. In the world of independent publishing, supporting each other’s creative endeavors and sharing knowledge to help others counts for so much.

 

Building an Author Platform in 5 Easy Steps

In 2012 I had been writing my book for seven years and really had no endgame in sight. That year I was facing a major life changing injury and potential surgery. It was an excellent time to pause and focus on where I wanted to go with my writing life.

 

During the rest and recovery period I spent a lot of time on the couch not able to do a lot but watch TV and write. This was the defining moment when I started on the path to being an author, not just some schlep writing a book.

 

In this delicate state I joined Twitter, created a Facebook author page, and began the serious work of building an author platform. I felt completely overwhelmed by everything I was doing but slowly I grew a following by providing good content, interacting with followers, and struggling to find ways to promote a book I hadn’t finished yet.

 

I made some really dumb moves along the way but offset them with a few smart ones, and I’m here to tell you that it was all worth it.

 

Picture of author KJ Waters

 

Here are the steps I took that led me to Authordom.

1. Blog: I started a blog called Blondie in the Water where I told short stories with a watery travel theme. This was the beginning of my brand that included the name ‘Blondie’ and the water element born from my name (Waters) and my love of all things watery. The blog allowed me to connect with readers before I had a book to sell. I now have over 114,000 visitors and just had my best month yet with almost 7,000 hits. I share these posts as a big part of my social media plan.

 

Tip: Post frequently (once a week) to get the most engagement. Share older posts a few times a day on social media to bring people to your site.

 

2. Twitter: When I joined Twitter I really had no clue what I was doing. I think the one thing I did by accident but really works for engaging your audience was being authentic. I shared parts of my soul with people by engaging in conversations, sharing funny quotes, and building my brand. I also met some great authors and reader friends that became crucial to my success. This is where I met Suzanne Kelman in the spring of 2012 and over the next few years we stayed in touch. She asked me to create a book cover for her and now she is my co-host of Blondie and the Brit Podcast (see below.) Over the last month I had more than 10,000 impressions per day on Twitter. Over my four accounts I have nearly 30,000 followers. I notice the days I don’t post on Twitter my ranking on Amazon tanks.

 

Tip: I currently use the 2:1:1 ratio to share my content on Twitter with great success. Two content posts to engage my target market, one post to promote my book, and one post that is a soft sell that promotes my brand (i.e. blog, interview about me, or podcast.)

 

3. Facebook: I created a Facebook page and an author page. This is where I spend most of my social media time and I’ve grown a following of readers, potential readers, and other writers. Every week I meet someone who buys my book, or reaches out to me about a podcast, asks me to write a guest blog post or create a book cover for them, or just chat about book marketing. I now have four Facebook accounts plus my personal one covering my podcast, author page, and book cover business.

 

Tip: I post mostly non-book content on the main page and post occasional book reviews, podcast posts, and other promotional posts on the Author page. The main focus is to spend time creating relationships that hopefully will lead to sales.

 

4. Other Social Media Sites: After becoming comfortable with these two platforms, I have also created Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus accounts. Snapchat is growing by leaps and bound so I may dip my toe over there.

 

Tip: Use scheduling tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage content on each platform. Do a little research on where your target market likes to spend most of their time and focus on those platforms. For example if you’re a Young Adult author you should be in Instagram and Snapchat.

 

5. Podcast: A newer development in the last year that has been an exceptional way to connect with other authors is podcasting. I created Blondie and the Brit (sticking with my Blondie branding) with Suzanne Kelman. We just celebrated our first year with an Audience Choice Awards contest and recently honored Jeri with a Best Professional Publishing Tip.

 

Tip: Think of other creative ways you can add value to your fans and ways to connect with others in your genre. The podcast was perfect for us because we love helping authors learn ways to market their books. In the process we’ve made some priceless connections and learned so much from the authors who have been on the show.

 

Picture of Blondie and Brit Podcast Logo

 

What benefits have I reaped from the four year investment?

Book Launch Boost: It has taken four and a half years to grow my author platform to a point where I can launch a new book and see great results. For example, last April I released a short story called “Blow” at the end of a Facebook party for a friend’s book launch. The next day Blow was at #60 in mystery and suspense on Amazon. By the end of the week I got it to #8 and top 20 in all three of my categories. How? I have nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter, over 4,000 on Facebook and several thousand on the others and I used these platforms to help promote it.

 

Amazon Rankings: I tested my author platform again this summer with a bid to get my, Stealing Time, to the number one spot in the time travel category. Using the advice I’d gotten from many authors I thought I’d try a weekend where I offer it for free. I used a list of free sites and promoted the heck out of it over a long weekend (coinciding the date Hurricane Charley hit that is featured in the novel) on my author platform and I made it to number one. I paid for a twitter and a Facebook ad, but the rest was leveraging my platform to work for me. I’m hoping to keep growing my platform so I have even more success when Shattering Time comes out next spring.

 

Cover of Stealing Time

 

 

What do you find most exciting or stressful about building an author platform or establishing an online presence? 

 

You can connect with KJ Waters and her social media sites via her author website, Blondie & the Brit Podcast, and Blondie’s Custom Book Covers.

 

You might also be interested in KJ’s other Word Bank guest posts: 5 Awesome Reasons for Going Indie, 6 Hot Trends in Indie Book Marketing, and 4 Invaluable Tips for Indie Authors. KJ has also appeared here in an author interview, and don’t miss Suzanne Kelman’s advice on author’s having a podcast as well as my podcast interview with Blondie & the Brit.

 

 

Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.

 

Author: KJ Waters

KJ Waters is the Amazon best-selling author of the short-story called Blow and time travel series Stealing Time. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, is in development and is slated to be released in the spring of 2017. In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit. She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

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36 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Jeri for having me back on the blog! Appreciate all you do for authors!

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  2. Great article about author platform. It’s probably the most loathed topic among writers, in part I think because to do it properly, like you are doing, takes a lot of work. Thanks so much for breaking it down, so we can see the results you have benefitted from. I really enjoy your podcast BTW, and such a great name!

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    • You’re so welcome Kathy. It does take a lot of work but it is a necessary evil. If you continually find new ways to make it fun and challenge yourself it never seems like work.

      How exciting that you listen to the podcast too. Thank you Kathy! We had a lot of fun creating the name and have caught ourselves announcing Blondie and the Twit and other unfortunate errors.

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  3. Hi KJ…nice to meet you here and I liked your inspiring tips of building an author platform. I have never made any serious efforts to connect with others in such an organised manner. Thank you for shaking me out of slumber.
    Wishing you great success with your books. 🙂

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    • Balroop, great to meet you too! Appreciate your comments and I hope you enjoy your new found journey into organized social media.

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  4. The best thing about building an online presence is connecting with other bloggers. Otherwise it can be exhausting! But it looks like you’ve got a system in place that ‘s working. Congrats!

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    • Thank you Jan. My strategy is always evolving. I think Jeri has the best strategy for connecting with Bloggers. I’m always blown away by the number of comments when I am a guest blogger.

      Appreciate your comments!

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  5. Thx to KJ for the great post. That term “author’s platform” has haunted me for the past 7 years. Prior to that, I had been traditionally published (3x), and the term “author platform” never came up. I was hired to write books for my writing talent. But once social media became the rage, author platform seemed to become even more important than an author’s talent. It came all about selling books. And yes, I know that has always been an underlying principal for the publishing of virtually all books. But it seems frustrating now that neither agents or publishers will touch authors who don’t have super large followings or a mega platform. I’ve never done an Amazon giveaway, but maybe that is something I should try over the holidays.

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    • This is such a good point Doreen. It seems to be an integral part of the market now. You are right the platform is as important as the book, unfortunately. Marketing has become crucial in the publishing world. This is why it’s in your best interested for all authors to build their platform as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not they are indie or traditionally published.

      Amazon giveaways are really easy to do. I think you’ve just inspired me to do one as well.

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  6. Fantastic post by KJ, Jeri. I’m glad to know my path of building platform and marketing is similar to KJ’s, only probably selling less books, lol. Although, I am currently investigating the prospect of venturing into Podcasting too, so we shall see what brews with that. 🙂

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    • Well that’s exciting Dgkaye! Let me know if I can provide any advice if you pursue that podcasting path.

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  7. What’s “exciting” about establishing an online presence: the wonderful connections I make with like-minded individuals all over the world!

    What’s stressful? I find it easy to get pulled off course with three young grandchildren in the house (all under 5). Two challenges I face involve maintaining consistency and momentum. I must not be hard on myself I must tell myself. If I smile and engage in encouraging self-talk, I do better.

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    • Ramona, you make an excellent point. I have met some really key individuals in shaping my writing future on social media. I also find myself being pulled in twenty directions and if I’m not focused I don’t get my little ducks in a row.

      What I have found helpful is to craft a social media plan with short and long term goals and use that as my guide as I work the social media machine to keep it moving in the right direction. My goals remain to grow my following and to sell my book.

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  8. Excellent advice and I’m happy to share. I have such mixed feelings about Facebook. I really like groups and have forged some wonderful relationships through them. My “friends” were over the top supportive of my personal fundraiser earlier this year and that really touched my heart. Then there’s FB pages. I closed the page for my business last year because I’d post things there and people would comment or share on my profile page instead. It just felt like way too much work for too little return. Now I have a new project and I’m trying to decide whether to set up a group or go back to a page – both will require a lot of work and I’m not prepared to commit to two major projects so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll definitely take a look at KJ’s page for inspiration. Thanks!

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    • Thank you Marquita. I understand your facebook pain. I have several pages along with my other social media sites. It’s hard to keep up with everything. I hope you figure out what works best for you on the new page or group. My advice is pick the one you’re most likely to keep up with. Consistency is king on social media so pick what makes your life easier and you’re more likely to stick with it. Best of luck to you!

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  9. Excellent suggestions on how to build an authro platform. If I ever write a book I know what to do in order build myself up as an author.

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    • Thank you for your comment Catarina. This is good for anything you promote including blogs and other products. Take care!

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  10. What a great read Jeri! I feel encouraged.

    I am thinking of ways to increase followers to my website. I know posts need to be consistent and it can be challenging keeping this up when you have many commitments. I guess the question is, just how much do I really want to move forward?

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    • Ha, yes Phoenicia, sometimes change is painful but if you’ve got a plan in place to keep the momentum before you begin it should help immensely. Best of luck with growing your website following, I’m glad my article encouraged you.

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  11. A most helpful post and excellent comments, as always, Jeri. Being a huge mistake maker, JK. thanks for these tips that might help me straighten out some of the goofs I’ve made with social media.

    Like others have said, finding a supportive online community (in LinkedIn, FB and twitter) has been invaluable for me. Writers are the best!

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    • RoseMary, I’m glad my post was helpful to you. We all make grand mistakes, it’s how we learn. I’ve had such a great experience with writers as well. It’s what makes the journey worthwhile, making these powerful connections. Best of luck with your writing journey.

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  12. This is pretty impressive. It’s a great case study in how to build an audience through social media. Although I shudder to think how much time it would require.

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    • Ha, Ken you’re right about the time commitment, but it is worth it standing here at the other end. My author platform drives my sales and without much cash outlay, other than the occasional Facebook ads and other giveaways. Thanks for your comments.

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  13. Thank you, Jeri Walker, for sharing this informative and amazing post with all of us. It will help me plan and work out my social media and promoting myself as a blogger. Have a supportive community like you all is helping me further develop myself. Happy to share the post ahead so that many like me receive the support and advice they need as well as deserve.

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  14. As a relatively new author, whose book is going to be republished soon, I found this post very helpful.
    I was looking into doing a podcast, and this has helped me along in that direction.
    Thanks for sharing this with me.

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  15. Hi KJ, your social media platform is impressive! Making #1 on Amazon is quite the feat! Congratulations. I will try to use some of your wonderful tips. The only platform I haven’t tried is SnapChat. I have zero clue about it. My kids are on it.

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  16. Great tips here, Jeri and KJ. I also think it’s really important for people to start early — waaaaaay ahead of when they envision their book being published. Starting in the month or two before pub date is just stressful and ineffective.

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  17. These are great tips! My content is mostly visual so I spend more time on pinterest than Twitter (unless I’m tweeting from this page!) but I’m always looking for ways to make my social media work better for me.

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  18. These are great tips for building an author platform and using social media. It does take a lot of time. Figuring out what to focus on is important. I appreciate the information KJ shared on what she does and what works for her.

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  19. Thank you so much for your post. I’m always willing to learn and grow. Thanks!

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  20. Thanks for sharing your tips on author marketing on social media! It’s very helpful to learn what works and what doesn’t 🙂 I agree that Twitter can be valuable, when used correctly.

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