Cara Langston

Failing at Building an Author Platform

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Upon beginning my publishing journey, I read a lot of articles on how to succeed in self-publishing. There are vast quantities of tips on the Internet, but one of the most popular ones is this: Build an author platform.

That sounds easy, right? We live in the age of social media. Almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, blog, Instagram, Foursquare, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or that dreaded app Facebook made us download to read our friends’  messages. It’s easy to create an account. It’s much more difficult, however, to connect.

I’m pretty sure I’m terrible at building an author platform. I rarely update this blog. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but mostly reading others’ tweets rather than tweeting myself. I haven’t posted anything on my Facebook author page in almost 2 months. I loathe posting links to my books because it feels so impersonal and I hate it when that’s all other authors do on social media.

Despite this, I have learned some things and compiled a short list of Do’s and Don’ts.


  • DO follow other authors and readers. If you haven’t published anything or don’t have NYT Bestseller (like most of us), not many people will follow you just because. You will have to earn their follow by following them first. It’s a very quid pro quo relationship. Is it petty? Sure, but that’s how it works.
  • DO make Twitter lists. Do you know what happens when you follow 1,000 people? You can’t keep track of conversations. Twitter has a very nice feature where you can add users to a list that narrows down whose tweets you see. I have a private list called “Interact”. Despite the fact that I follow 600+ people, this list only has ~20. They are friends I’ve made on Twitter, authors who seem similar to me, and the Outlander account, because I’m addicted (that’s another post).
  • DON’T only tweet out your book links. There are some people who tweet the same link every 3 minutes, all day long. It’s obnoxious, and I really doubt it increases your sales all that much. It just makes me want to unfollow you and never consider reading your book.


  • DON’T spend a ton of time on Facebook unless you’ve had some incredible success with that platform. Facebook wants you to pay to reach your audience, and unless you have an unlimited budget, you’ll end up reaching maybe 5% of however many people “liked” your page. I use Facebook all the time for personal use, but for an author platform, it really sucks.

I feel like I should have more suggestions, but as I said above, I don’t think I’m any good at this. This post is actually the result of two glasses of red wine, boredom, and the nagging feeling of “I should really post something else on my blog.” I’m going to return to the first draft of my next novel now (I’m at 37K words!).


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