How to Build an Author Platform from Scratch

Feb 20, 2024 | Profit

Lynn McGinnis helps self-published authors build and grow their platforms, gain visibility, and reach their unique author marketing goals through coaching, consulting, and done-for-you marketing services.

I asked her to write this post because I get lots of questions about what an author platform is, why it’s important, and how to build one. I’m not an expert on building an author platform. Lynn is. Here’s her advice on how to do it.

Hitting that “publish” button isn’t the end of your author journey. It’s just the beginning.

It can be difficult to think past the seemingly endless writing, rewriting, editing, proofing, and more proofing to even guess what might come next in book publishing. The reality is the time to think about what comes after you hit that publish button isn’t when you’re about to publish; it’s actually before you finish writing your book. Your first step in finding that first reader is to build your author platform.

What is an author platform?

Don’t overcomplicate it. An author platform is how you will build an audience and a relationship with potential readers to sell your books. It’s not often the same for every author, but there are basics that every author should have from the start.

Before you begin, think about your audience. Understanding your reader helps you understand how to reach them. This determines your branding, choice of social media platforms, marketing activities, and more.

Next, be sure you have a newer headshot along with short and long bios. Lifestyle photographers suggest you change your headshot twice a year. If that’s not within your budget, be sure to use one from the last year or so. It’s important you’re recognizable for possible media or podcast interviews.

How to build your author platform in 6 steps.

Building your author platform isn’t complicated. Here’s how to do it in six steps.

Your brand
This is more than colors and fonts, although those are important. This is you in digital form. It’s a good idea to begin with your name. Branding with your book title can be both limiting and confusing. Your book shouldn’t identify you; you should identify your book.

Start with your name – website domain, and social media profiles. Then, choose colors that are appealing to your audience. Be consistent with your brand across your website and professional/creator social media platforms.

Your website
Your website is the foundation of your platform. All marketing activities move through your website.

This is a scalable tool, so start with the basics – home, book page, about, contact, and email opt-in with a freebie to build your email list. You might blog, podcast, sell books, merchandise, or courses from your site one day. That doesn’t have to be today.

Social media channels
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to be everywhere at once. If you’re not social media savvy or don’t want to become a full-time content creator, social media overwhelm will make you feel like you’ve failed when you can’t keep up. It’s not necessary to be everywhere at once. What matters more is that you show up where your potential readers are most likely to find you and where you’re most comfortable. If you’re writing YA fantasy fiction, LinkedIn probably isn’t going to be your primary social media channel. But if you’re writing a business book, you should master LinkedIn before you move on to another social media channel.

Amazon Author Profile
Claim your author profile on Amazon as soon as your book is published. Log onto using your KDP account and “add” your book using the ISBN. You’ll need your headshot and long bio. Amazon will connect each format of your book (hardcover, softcover, eBook, and audiobook) so potential readers can click on your name under the title of your book to get to your Author profile. This is a powerful SEO (search engine optimization) tool.

Like your Amazon Author Profile, this profile can’t be “claimed” until your book is published. Goodreads is an Amazon company. While you wait for your book to be published, you can set up an account by logging in with your Amazon profile. It’s simple to set up.

Search for your book once your account is set up. Scroll about halfway down the page and you’ll see, “Is this you?” Click on the hyperlink and follow the instructions to claim your book. You’ll need the email address you used to log into Goodreads and KDP. You’ll also need the URL for your Amazon Author Profile. Another powerful SEO tool; don’t sleep on this one.

Email marketing and list building
Everything you share on social media becomes the property of that platform. You own your book, your website, and your email list. You should have a means to communicate with your followers if a platform crashes or fails. You need an email list.

Grow your email list with a lead or reader magnet. This could be a portion of your book in PDF format you give away in exchange for a reader’s email address when they subscribe to your email list. Readers are savvy to these freebies so you might want to get creative by using PDFs with supporting information from your book, content you decided not to publish that’s still valuable, a video, or even audio file embedded on your website.

No two author journeys are the same.

It’s important to remember what works for one author might not work for you. It would be silly to suggest one path to success when every author has a different idea of success along with different skills, assets, and budgets. Think about your goal for writing your book. Your marketing efforts should be engineered to help you reach that goal.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please remember all marketing activities, including your platform, are scalable. Begin with the necessities, and scale when you’re ready. Be prepared to spend a few hours a week on your marketing, but manage that time by creating a small, daily habit of marketing for consistency. That’s the real secret behind marketing success. Showing up.

About Lynn

Lynn McGinnis is the founder and Chief Problem Solver at Lynn McGinnis Author Marketing. She helps authors gain visibility to reach their unique author marketing goals through coaching, consulting, and done-for-you author marketing services. To learn more, visit her website at Be sure to sign up for her email list and grab some freebies.