Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navigating Platform as an Unpublished Author - Part 1: Where to Start?

Platform. This word alone has recently given unpublished authors a sick feeling in their stomach every time they hear it. Recently, it seems as though this has been given even more emphasis than writing a solid book. But how can unpublished authors establish a social media presence -- even before they’re published?

Pin This!

This is one of the questions I received in an email last week from an aspiring author. She said that she recently received interest from a publisher on her book series, however the publisher rejected her due to small social media numbers.

This is a question I’ve heard over and over at writing conferences, too. I’ve written other posts about platform in the past -- such as what the purpose of a platform is and how you can reach your readers on social media. But in this series, I’d like to discuss how an unpublished author specifically can navigate social media to build a readership -- even before their book is contracted.

First of all -- is it possible?

Yes, it is possible. But the most important thing to remember, while building a platform, is that you don’t want to build a miscellaneous audience. Platform numbers will only be helpful if your followers consist of readers within your genre. Potential buyers of your books.

Here’s how you can do this in three steps…

1. Be present where your target readers are present. 

What is the target age group of your readership? For example, if you write young adult fiction, then you might want to consider being mostly present on Instagram because that’s where most teens hangout. Sure, you can create a Twitter and Facebook account too -- but it’s wise to invest the majority of your time on Instagram, because that’s where you’ll find the majority of your readers.

2. Post content that will appeal to your target reader and reflect your brand

What appeals to your target audience? You may want to take time analyzing accounts of other authors, writers, and readers of your genre. How do they interact and engage with the community within this genre? Then, try to brainstorm ways you can contribute to the conversation. What can you post that will be unique and valuable to this community?

Consider book-related posts and behind-the-scene posts on your writing/research process. You don’t have to be published to offer potential readers a sneak peek at your writing journey!

(TIP: Be sure to take advantage of hashtags! Research hashtags that are popular for writers and readers of your genre. Include them within your posts, and be sure to interact on other posts within these hashtags!)

3. Interact and build relationships. 

This is the easiest and best way to build a platform before becoming a published author. We don’t build a platform in effort to show off how amazingly talented we are, nor should we do it in hopes of being put on a pedestal. We build a platform because it gives us an opportunity to make relationships within our community. 

Just think: You can become friends with the future readers of your book even before it’s published! Then, when your book is out in the world, these friends that you’ve made will be enthusiastic and excited to help support your new release. This is what platform is all about.

If you want to do this effectively, I’d advise reaching out to other people on social media. Comment and like their posts often. Be authentic. Offer helpful content and giveaways to your followers. Spark conversation within your posts. Follow those who post in your genre’s hashtags. Social media should be about engagement and relationships, not numbers. Focus on this first, then you’ll soon discover that your platform is being built in the process -- even before your book is contracted.

In the next post, I’ll walk you through the process of creating a newsletter in hopes of creating a platform. In the meantime, feel free to check out my previous posts on platform and branding by clicking here!

Question for you…

Do you have any tips for establishing a social media presence as an unpublished author? What’s the most difficult aspect of building a platform for you?


Navigating Platform as an Unpublished Author - Part 1: Where to Start? #amblogging #writerslife @TessaEmilyHall


  1. Tessa, I am so thankful that you are tackling this subject! I'd say that finding time to interact and coming up with quality content are my biggest platform struggles as an unpublished author. It's hard to convince myself why people should care about me and my writing when I'm unpublished!

    1. Hi Megan! Thanks for commenting; I'm glad you found this helpful!

      If you think about it, people don't just follow those who are in the limelight. They follow those who post quality content that they appreciate and enjoy. They follow those who come across as personable and authentic on social media. They follow those who are in the same online communities that they're involved in. (Writing communities, book communities, etc.)

      If people follow you because they enjoy you as a person, that's a huge compliment! In fact, that might even be better than receiving followers just because of your books. You want readers who will stick with you for the long haul -- not just because they enjoy your products, but because they enjoy you as a person.

      The best advice I can offer is to stay engaged! Engage with your followers and with communities on social media through specific hashtags. Be authentic, conversational, and personable. Offer value to your readers in a way that reflects your brand.

      I'll discuss more about this in tomorrow's post about newsletters! =)


  2. I stumbled upon your blog while researching platform building for unpublished authors. Great article! BTW, I just followed you and liked your FB page =)


Thanks for stopping by my blog!