Some people are under the impression (Mom!) that the publisher is supposed to do everything for you. And while being in traditional publishing is great, and my publisher does quite a lot, the truth is that every author has to contribute to the success of their career via marketing and building a platform. And, no, I don’t mean that traditionally published authors have to spend their own money (though some do).
As someone who’s been in advertising, marketing, and social media management, I’ve always (to put it very simply) defined advertising as paid promotion of a product and marketing as brand awareness (which can sometimes cost money.) So how exactly are authors building their brand and marketing themselves before their book is published, and is it costing them money?
Before I got my publishing deal, I decided to build my platform on TikTok. It is the only social media platform where I felt like I could be my authentic self because no one really knew me on there, and TikTok is very real. What I mean by that is people become popular on TikTok, and they do not have to be decked out in makeup and expensive clothes. They could literally be filming in their car with their hair unbrushed. These were my kind of people!
I’d decided that I couldn’t focus my attention everywhere, but I could put my efforts into building a platform in some very specific places. I project that at the rate I’m growing, by the time my book is published, I should have anywhere from 12,000 – 20,000 booktok followers. After TikTok, I also became very invested in learning how to create my newsletter and build my list. In the first month, I grew by 100 followers. According to that projection, by the time my book comes out, I will likely have 1500 subscribers interested in specially fantasy and paranormal YA. These numbers are great for me, especially since they reach my target audience.
Some of the things my publisher has asked me to do is build my street team. She said I would need 5-10 people. I put out a TikTok, embarrassingly asking for help, and the support I got was incredible. I had a couple hundred requests! My team is much bigger than I expected, and when I asked them to add my book to their Goodreads shelves, they came through in a big way! Most of these people also agreed to be on my ARC list, which is great! I cannot imagine the support I might get when I make my TikTok for that request, but I’m so thrilled at the list I’ve compiled so far.
Finally, my book was added to Goodreads, and I was tasked with claiming my author profile. It did not go great. I was rejected many times, without specific reasons, for doing exactly what some of my fellow writers did. It was senseless lol. But my publisher came through and emailed them for me! Success!
Though I’m doing work to build up my platform and market myself, the community I’ve found has been amazing! Now I just have to hope TikTok doesn’t get shut down!