Tag Archives: writer platform

The Base of the Writer’s Platform: Your Website

The Base of the Writer's Platform: Your WebsiteAs a writer, it is hard to know where to start when building your author platform. However, the one thing that I can impart to you about a writer’s platform is that the time to start it is now. Not tomorrow, not when your rough draft is completed, and certainly not when your book is finished and you are waiting to find a traditional publisher or independently publish your work on Amazon. You must give your platform time to be discovered and linked to the myriad of places where readers can find you.

There are two types of author websites. A static website that changes only once in a great while and a writer’s blog where the author posts on a regular basis in addition to all the information that is contained on a static website. Both have advantages over the other. The static website needs little maintenance once it is set up. It is the sort of place that you can hire a webmaster to run for you if you are uncomfortable with computers or simply don’t have the time to work on your site. This sort of site is not as good for linking with social media. The blog website takes time from the author’s schedule. You must write posts, work at marketing your posts to many social media networks, and still have all the same information that a static website contains. This sort of website will bring you in many readers, depending on the content you offer on your blog.


The first task you have for your website is to decide on its name. This can be different from the domain name that is associated with it. Since you want to brand yourself as an author, a natural choice for your domain name and the name of your website is the name you will be writing under. Some people will add the word “author” to their name so that it is apparent that they are writers even if only their name appears. You can also choose a catch phrase for your blog and use that as your URL. My own writing blog is called No Wasted Ink and can be found at http://nowastedink.com. Remember, if you choose a name or phrase as your domain URL, you will have to live with it for a long time. Choose wisely.

I highly recommend that you purchase the domain of your personal name even if you decide to use a different domain for your website. As your sales increase, others may seek to purchase your name domain and then charge you a high price for it. It is best to secure it as soon as possible. You do not need to use it on your blog, but can instead choose to park it at your domain service. Do not purchase the name of your novel, after all, you will hopefully write many more books in the future. Keep all your books under one roof. It is better to dedicate a page on your website to a new book than to give that book its own website.

Finally, do not host your domain name with the same company that hosts your website. I have heard countless stories of authors that wanted to move to a new host, but were unable to get their previous host to release their domain or even to point it at the new location for months at a time. They do this to try and force you to stay with them. If you control where your domain is hosted, none of these games can be played on you. It costs a little more to structure it this way, but I feel that it is worth it for your peace of mind.


There are several options when choosing a place to host your website. Remember, when you choose a free hosting option, the host company will likely run ads on your website and they do not always offer to link your domain name to your website.

For a free static website the following are recommended services:


For a free blog website:


If you would rather not have ads on your website and access to email, forms and other features, consider paying for a hosted website. The following can host either a static or a blog website and have push button creation of most of the popular content engines:



Neutral Colors
When picking a template for your website, choose something that is simple in design. You don’t want flashy graphics, bright colors or purple unicorns. Choose a simple black and white or neutral pallet for your site. You want to present yourself as a respectable professional.

Keep It Simple
Make sure that the navigation structure is easy for the reader to follow, no element of your website should need even a second of thought to find information on.

Less Links
Do not post counters, guest books, or prominent links to other sites unless you are active on them. This needs to be the final place where a reader will go to learn all about you as an author and about your books.

It Is All About You
On your front page, you should include a prominent location in the upper third for a form that signs up people to your mailing list, a graphic and clickable link to your latest book or to a magazine article that you have published, and your photo and name.


Both a static website and a blog have certain pages that should be included. These information pages explain to the reader about your history, list your bibliography, upcoming projects and other relevant information. The basic pages you need to include are:

This is a paragraph or two about you as an author. Think of it as a resume with your reader as the prospective employer. List information about yourself that you don’t mind releasing the public and give the reader a sense of who you are as a writer. Always include a photo of yourself on this page. It is also a great alternate place to put in a form for a newsletter, since readers who are interested in you are most likely to view this page.

Create a page that lists your published writing credits: magazines you’ve sold stories to, guest posts you’ve written, books you’ve published. If you can links to your work online, even better. Not only readers will be coming here to see your work, but prospective editors and publishers will as well.

Create a way for people to contact you easily. Most static webhosts provide scripts to create forms for this purpose. The free blog hosts have you use a third party service.

A few optional pages to include:

    A page of novel excerpts so that readers can see a sample of each of your published works or even samples of unpublished ones.
    A page of character sketches
    A page of books that you recommend for reading on Amazon


If you decide to create a blog style writer platform, you will create more work for yourself because you must write blog posts. However, this work is off-set by the greater reach your social media will have to create a readership for your books. It is my personal feeling that a blog is a much stronger base than a static website.

In order to keep the workload manageable, you must regulate the frequency of your posts. Back in the 1990s when blogging first began, the gurus of the time all proclaimed that you needed to post at least once a day to generate traffic. As an author, this is not really the case. You must put your creative writing, the writing that earns you income, first over the writing you do for the blog. Therefore, consider microblogging to be your method. What microblogging means is that you post less frequently, but on a regular basis. You can post once or twice a week, but pick a certain day and time to do those posts and really make it shine. Over time, your readers will come to expect a post on that day and you will gain a following.

I post three times a week on No Wasted Ink: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Occasionally, I will post additional announcements or Vintage Holiday Cards. That is my microblogging schedule.

As a writer, you will need to decide how much time you have for a blog and then set up a blogging plan that you feel you can follow. Remember, you will be doing this for a long time, perhaps years, so try and not do too much at once. You can always change your blogging frequency in the future if it becomes overwhelming.


Your website is the base of your writer’s platform. It is the single thing that you as an author should have up on the Internet so that potential readers can find you and your books. So get started building the base of your platform. It is not as hard as you might think.

Use of Twitter #Hashtags for Authors

Twitter HashtagWhen I first began building my author platform, I knew that one of the major social networks that I would need to use is Twitter. At first, I found this social media giant to be bewildering. It is a complex network of tiny conversations, ideas, links and news about everything and anything on the planet. Words were shortened into acronyms to save space. Ideas needed to be conveyed in only 140 characters. It was not long before I realized that Twitter has a sort of code, a language all of its own, that I needed to learn in order to use it properly. This code is known as #hashtags.

A #hashtag is a word starting with the # symbol that Twitter will pick up as a subject in its search engine. It is a sort of code that helps to group tweets based on an agreed meaning by a group of people. It is more powerful than simply allowing Twitter to pick up a subject based on what words are in the tweet. There are thousands of #hashtags used on Twitter and they are constantly evolving. Try and limit your use of #hashtags to no more than two or three at the most per tweet. You will get better results that way. I want to focus on ones that are commonly used by writers to bring attention their tweets and more traffic to their websites.

The first group of #hashtags you need to know are related to books and reading. Use these to find new readers for your books and stories, not just fellow writers. My favorites of this list are #books, #bookreview and #novel. I use them frequently to highlight the authors that I interview and the book reviews that I write.


This next group of #hashtags are used to connect with other writers. I try and do two or three tweets a day about how and where I’m writing during the day. When I do, I include one of these favorite #hashtags at the end of the tweet: #amwriting, #amrevising, #Nanowrimo, and #writing. When I started to use these #hashtags, I noticed far more feedback from my tweets about writing than when I did not use any #hashtags at all. I use #Nanowrimo mainly in October and November only when I am participating in the program, the others are general use.

There are also two #hashtags that I want to highlight that are used when you do a post that lists people that are either new followers or followers that you want to promote in your Twitter feed who are also writers. These promotion posts for writers are typically done on Wednesday and the practice is known as “Writer Wednesday”. The #hashtag code is known as either #writerwednesday or #WW. If you want to add new authors and writers to your twitter feed, searching for either of these #hashtags on Wednesday is a great way to find them.


#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)

This next group of #hashtags are for highlighting your ebook announcements. If you are posting about a link to Amazon, your smashwords store, or promoting a KPD ebook giveaway, using these #hashtags will allow people outside of your followers to find you.

#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)

There are genre and specialty #hashtags that help readers and other writers who share your own literary interests find your tweets. They are rather self-explanatory. I like to use these with author interviews to let the reader know what genre the highlighted author writes in, but they are also good to use with book promotions.

#HistFic (Historical Fiction)
#MGLit (Middle Grades Literature)
#PoetryMonth (Each April in the USA)
#YA (Young Adult)
#YALit (Young Adult Literature)

This final group of #hashtags are for marketing and general promotions. Of these, I find the most useful one to be #novelines. Use this #hashtag when you are putting down a short quote of your own novel as a tweet.

#99c (to offer or pick up an eBook bargain)
#Novelines (to quote your own work)

#Hashtags are constantly evolving on Twitter. What is popular today could be gone tomorrow. As you chat with your fellow writers at forums or in writing’ groups, ask what #hashtags they are using. You’ll be sure to find new ones to add to your Twitter tool kit.

Goodreads: An Important Part of The Author Platform

Goodreads LogoI had the pleasure of hearing a lecture by Goodreads Community Manager, Patrick Brown at a local Romance Writers of America function, about how Goodreads helps to connect authors with readers. This lecture helped me to untangle my own confusion about what Goodreads is and what part it can play in a writer’s platform. I’ve been a member at Goodreads for some time, but never quite knew what to do with it. Most of the authors of my local writing group did not see what the value of Goodreads was either. You can’t sell your books there directly and it seemed just another place where you had to spend additional time. As I sat at a pink and red covered table that had been scattered with chocolates and listened to Mr. Brown speak, many of my misconceptions about Goodreads were laid to rest. I find that I am now excited about this social media outlet and I wanted to share some of these insights here at No Wasted Ink.

Why use Goodreads as part of your author platform?

The first task we do as authors is to set up a website to serve as a home base for our online presence. A website or blog is more powerful than a social media profile because it is weighted more heavily in search engines. Your website is where you post samples of your work, write about topics that are of interest to you, show your portfolio of published credits and have links to where readers can buy your books.

Twitter and Facebook are the next choices to cultivate in the mission to expand awareness of you as an author, but the people you encounter there are not necessarily people that love to read books. Twitter is more for announcements. Facebook is wonderful with interaction between authors and readers, but not so much with discovering new authors and books. On Goodreads, you see recommendations for books from people that you know, and who’s taste you know. Therefore, you are more likely to try out a new author or book based on a friend’s recommendation. Goodreads is targeted toward the audience you are seeking.

What makes Goodreads different from other social media outlets?

Goodreads is growing. There are over fifteen million readers on the social media site and sixty-five thousand authors. This is a huge pool of potential readers to draw from who are pre-qualified toward buying books. All genres are represented and there are a myriad of book clubs discussing thousands of books every day. Goodreads mission is to catalog every book in existence, including yours! If nothing else, you should see that you fill out an author profile and the basic information about your published book so that it is entered into their catalog.

Goodreads is interactive about books. When a reader puts your book on their to-read list, it goes to all their friends and it is transmitted to other outlets such as their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. When a reader reviews your book, the review has the potential to be synced to their personal blog and transmitted to other Goodreads partners.

What are the strategies you should follow as a Goodreads author?

Even if you do not have a book published as yet, set up a Goodreads reader profile. Once your book is assigned an ISBN number, you can upgrade your reader profile into an author profile. Doing this before your book is available to the public gives you a little lead time to begin letting people put your book on their to-read list. When your book is published, Goodreads will send the interested reader a notice that your book is available for purchase.

If you have a blog, link it to appear in your Goodreads author page. You can set it to be a summary to bring Goodreads members to your website where your books are set up to be sold, or you can allow the member to read the entire post at Goodreads. Only authors can sync their blogs onto Goodreads. At this time, place Goodreads web-badges on your blog, website and Facebook pages. Let readers know that you have a presence on Goodreads.

If you have rated or reviewed a large number of books, you are eligible to apply to become a Goodreads Librarian. The advantage of this is that you will be able to input your own novels into the system and make corrections to their meta-data if needed. There is no charge to be a Librarian and being one could save you much time when it comes to data entry.

Consider disabling the invite friends button on your profile once you switch from being a reader to an author. You are limited to only five thousand Friends on Goodreads, but Fans are unlimited. To encourage people to add you as a Fan, put in a password into your Friends invite button and post a notice there that you are not accepting friend requests. You will still be able to add Friends, but you will have to send them the password to do so. Fan can see all your blog posts, your status updates and other public information, but do not access your more personal Goodreads profile information as a Friend might.

Goodreads book giveaway promotions are a good way to garner reviews for your book on Goodreads and to create a buzz about your book. Currently, Goodreads only allows for printed books to be given away, not ebooks. You can run these limited giveaways as many times as you wish and for specified times. Mr. Brown recommends doing a book giveaway three months in advance of your publish date. After your book is available, run a second or third give away and extend the giveaways for a month at a time. Make sure you put in a call to action with each book you mail. Ask the reader to write you a review on Goodreads in a small card enclosed with the book. Use Goodreads widgets on your website and on Facebook to promote your book giveaway. Statistics show that good word of mouth generated by giveaways leads to more sales of your book.

Final Word

As you can see, there is a clear benefit to being involved with Goodreads as an author. It is a place to interact with readers, to talk about books, and a new place to promote your novel to pre-qualified buyers of books. If you get the chance to hear Mr. Patrick Brown speak at your local book club function, I urge you to do so. His explanations of what Goodreads is, from the creator’s point of view, and how to use it as an author are only touched on in this article. You can see more of his information about Goodreads marketing campaigns at Goodreads Slideshare.