Four Ways Publishers Should Help Authors With Platform Building

For many books, an author can be a publisher’s best weapon for marketing. But authors often need help from publishers to build their platforms and to take advantage of their marketing power.

Speaking at Launch Kids at Digital Book World 2014, best-selling author Sarah Mlynowski of such books as the Whatever After series (Scholastic) and the upcoming Don’t Even Think About It (Random House) outlined four things publishers can do to help authors build their platforms and reach a larger audience.

1. Teach: “Random house has an author portal site that helps authors on every level to learn how to use social networks to build their platforms,” said Mlynowski. “Random House also offers webcasts once a month on different social networks. Harlequin also offered this, too.”

2. Tools: Publishers should create customized executions for promotions, said Mlynowski. She told an anecdote that one of her publishers put together a Facebook promotion for its authors and created a customized image to promote her book in the program.

3. Listen: “Authors often call up with crazy ideas like, ‘I think there should be a balloon for my book in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade,” said Mlynowki, adding that the marketers should listen because authors sometimes have great ideas. She told an anecdote about a campaign she envisioned for one of her books. Months later, after it had been shown to be successful, the publisher rolled it out for other authors.

4. Connect: “Publishers should really think about individual authors and individual books and see what would be good fits,” said Mlynowski. Random House connected her with the leadership at Canadian start-up Wattpad (the so-called “YouTube of ebooks”) and together, Mlynowski and Wattpad came up with several customized ways that they could promote her next book.

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