The pandemic has taken a lot from us. As authors, it has been a huge blow to our options for growing our community—events, libraries, book shops, conventions, festivals, workshops. I could go on. But it can’t steal your platform.
I know: it’s hard. Even I, extreme introvert extraordinaire, have missed face time with readers and writers. It’s even more frustrating to feel like you’re just gridlocked, unable to do the things that are so important to growing your writing career.
Still, there are ways you can keep working on your author platform. It can feel kind of trivial with everything going on in the world these days. But honestly, to me, it feels good to have something to build and grow – especially when it all comes back to connecting to like-minded writers and book lovers.
Don’t despair. Instead, pivot and find another way for you to grow your platform this fall.
Here are four things you could do to build your platform while stuck at home:
1. Amp up your author platform (or create it)
When the only traveling any of us are doing is through the internet, it’s a good time to have a truly magnificent website for your lovely author self. Is your website magnificent? What would make you absolutely love it?
We’re cooped up right now, so if that’s left you with a lot of extra time, this is one great way to channel it. Give your website a thorough audit. What do you love? What can you improve? What do the current site’s analytics tell you about what your readers want from you?
Or if you’re creating your website for the first time, what do you want from it? There are tons of great, easy, and even free tools out there to help you create it. There may never be a better time to try your hand at WordPress or Wix.
Even better, the effort you put into honing the look and feel of your website can be pulled over into your social media and other author branding, too.
2. Learn a new platform skill
As you might already have noticed, platforming skills are not something authors just possess innately—it’s a whole new skillset. Which means there’s a lot to learn, and almost always more you can do.
Whether it’s SEO or TikTok or podcasting, learning a new skill to build your platform might be a great way to spark some creativity, and can also connect you with a whole new set of readers.
This is another great way to invest your time while we’re all stuck at home that could pay off for years.
3. Join a group
Feeling a little isolated in your social distancing? You’re not alone. While it may not be quite the same as meeting up in person, there’s lots of options for online communities these days. Goodreads has some great ones, as does Facebook. Even Twitter has communities centered around hashtags and live chats.
Find one that resonates with you and your interests as an author, and jump on in!
And hey—a lot of groups that normally take place in person have found ways to keep meeting online in these times, too. Why not see what your local writers association is up to? You may be surprised! Now that we’ve had time to adjust (and learn Zoom), a lot of conferences, workshops, and other events are now happening online.
4. Keep posting on your platform
Not all of us are lucky enough for our biggest problem to be finding ways to fill the time. If you’re struggling for time (or to get the motivation for a big effort), that’s okay. You can still do things to keep your platform growing.
A simple way to do this is simply to stay engaged. Pop into your favorite social media account and engage for a minute or two—say hello! And if that’s really all you have time or energy for, just be kind to yourself. Much like writing itself, platforming is a marathon, not a sprint.
P.S.—No doom scrolling, please.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels, starting with Mud. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.