Platform Basics – What New Authors Really Need

November 15, 2017

You NEED This… or do you?

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of voices, businesses, and products clamoring for your attention. Buy into their platform/product/service and you’ll get your name in front of thousands of readers just chomping at the bit for your stuff…

Sounds great, right? Sure it does. Right up until you start forking over the cash you haven’t even earned yet, only to discover that their outrageous claims are anchored by fine print that says they really can’t guarantee anything. Worse, when you don’t immediately soar to the top of the best seller lists, they point their greedy little fingers right back at you in blame.

I have a problem with that, because I really, really don’t like it when people try to take advantage of other people.

Buyer Beware

I love that old saying. But how can you ‘beware’ when you’re thrust into this new, wonderful, incredibly complicated self-publishing world? People will tell you to “do your research”, and you definitely should, but where do you start? And who can you trust?

Here’s the thing – you don’t need all of those expensive bells and whistles when you’re just starting out. Let me say that again: you. don’t. need. all. that. And if someone tells you that you do, well, then, take a closer look. Chances are, they’re trying to sell you something.

What you do need is a no-frills, basic platform. Use common sense. Start simple. Keep it manageable. Your goal is to set up a foundation to reach and connect with readers. It’ll take some work, but not a lot.

Want to hear the best part? You can do it for FREE.

Trust me on this. I’m an expert on FREE resources. My budget for my first three books was a whopping $25, combined. Can you spend an ungodly amount of money for all the bells and whistles? Sure. But in my humble opinion, you’re much better off putting any extra money into a decent cover or a round of edits that’s going to get people to read (and like) your story. You can have the slickest website around, but if people aren’t buying your book, what’s the point?

So what exactly do you need? Excellent question, and the reason behind this post. Just to be clear, this isn’t meant to be a detailed how-to, just a quick overview of what you need to think about and have in place before you press PUBLISH. If there’s an interest in specifics, let me know and we’ll drill it down in a later post, but for now, I’m just putting this out there at a high level for you to think about.

The Good Stuff

Each of these building blocks are super budget friendly because they’ll cost you nothing. Nada. Zippo.

  • An email account under your author name. GMAIL is super easy to set up, and accessible from any device that can hit the net.
  • Social media accounts – Facebook and Instagram are the two biggies for adult romance. You can expand to Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, GooglePlay, and whatever else comes along as needed, but these are the heavy hitters (at least for me).
  • A KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account. Whether you decide to go exclusive with Amazon or wide across other retailers, you NEED to publish on Amazon if you want to sell your books and get paid.
  • An Amazon Author Page. You can set one up in Author Central and give readers a place to find out more about you when they read your awesome book.
  • A website. I know. It’s daunting, and you’ve probably heard that having a professionally designed website can cost you thousands (and that’s true). But before you hyperventilate, know that there are several FREE hosting platforms that have pre-made designs for you to strut your stuff. WordPress is a biggie, and WIX has a rep for being super simple and intuitive for non-techies. I’m sure there are others, too, but those are the ones I’ve seen used most often.
  • A newsletter and mail subscription service. FB is making it harder and harder for people to see your posts, and newsletters are one of the primary ways to communicate with your readers. Mailchimp is a very robust service that integrates with practically everything and is free for up to 2000 subscribers. MailerLite is another good one. Both have how-to’s and great customer service to help you set up a basic newsletter.

Once you get the basics in place and find your feet, you can expand your presence and your reach. Upgrade. Things are always changing. Don’t try to do it all at once. Understand that you WILL make mistakes, lots of them, and that what works for one author may not work for you. The only way to know is to try. The most important thing is that you start somewhere, and these basics should provide a good foundation that you can build upon.

Will setting up this no-frills basic platform make you a success? No. That’s what your books are for.  Write good ones.

? Abbie