You’re an author; either new, or established. After dipping your toes into a new-to-you genre with a couple of short stories, you decide to launch a pen name for that genre.
Yes, you could use the name you’ve used for previous books, but you don’t want to confuse readers or (more importantly) Amazon’s algorithm.
Establishing a single author name is a challenge; creating a new pen name and building a platform for it may seem like madness.
What’s your “author platform?”
Let’s start at the beginning.
What’s an “author platform?” In essence, it’s your readership: the readers who know who you are, and who identify you with a specific type of book. They’re readers who know what to expect when they buy your books.
I’ve had several questions about creating an author platform for a new pen name, so let’s look at some strategies.
1. Start by deciding who “you” are… who are your readers?
Ideally, when you launch books under your new pen name, Amazon will recognize you as a “Genre X” author immediately, and will offer your books to readers in that genre.
In practice, it’s not that simple. A writing student recently established a new pen name effectively.
What worked for her:
- Book covers which screamed “Genre X”;
- A 99 cent launch of the first book (she increased the price as soon as the second novel launched); and
- She used AMS (Amazon Advertising) ads to promote her two novels (one launched, the other on pre-order) as soon as she published the first one.
She quickly recouped the investment she made in covers and advertising.
What helped her to do that? She said: “I know what sells in that genre. I followed the top authors and reader-reviewers in that genre on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook… until I knew the audience intimately.”
2. Choose two or three social media venues so that readers can find you
You can’t be everywhere on social media, otherwise you’ll never have time to write.
Create a SMALL website — a single page site is ample for the first year of a new pen name. You’re launching the site so readers will connect your author name with the books you’ve published. Remember to add your website address to your books’ back matter. You need to collect reader-info so you can contact readers when you release your next book.
As for choosing social media networks, which sites do other authors in the genre use? Which sites do the reader-reviewers use?
A Facebook page may seem like a no-brainer, but remember that Facebook expects you to pay. Sites like Twitter and Pinterest will give you exposure without a big advertising spend.
Choose one social media network to start with and follow other authors in your new genre on that network.
3. Choose a rapid-release or a slower release schedule
Create a publishing schedule. If you’re wondering how often you “should” release, be guided by the top-selling authors in your new genre. How often do they release?
Indie authors in some genres, like New Adult and other sub-genres of women’s fiction such as Contemporary Romance, favor a rapid-release schedule for their novels.
That said, if you can’t release quickly because you’re not a full-time author, don’t sweat it. Create a marketing plan which works for you, and follow your plan.
Remember your readers. Treat them well by writing the best books you can at this stage of your career — and by building your platform.
And as always: have fun. You can’t be creative if you’re not enjoying yourself. 🙂
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