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Following: A Marketing Guide to Author Platform

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From the author of Let’s Get Digital and Amazon Decoded comes a fresh, new approach to platform-building.

This short, free guide breaks down what an author platform is, exactly, and what it should contain—and what you can safely skip, so you can focus on writing more books. Authors are told to “build a platform,” or “get their name out there”—advice which is vague as it is useless.

Following will show you precisely how to build your author platform, walking you through every step involved so that you can build a real platform, a proper, sustainable readership, and build a career as a writer.

75 pages, ebook

First published June 12, 2020

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About the author

David Gaughran

13 books262 followers
David Gaughran was born in Ireland but now lives in a quaint little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn't increased the amount of time he spends outside the house. He writes historical fiction and science fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors publish their work through his workshops, blog, and writers' books - Let's Get Digital, Strangers to Superfans, BookBub Ads Expert, and Amazon Decoded - and has also created giant marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Visit DavidGaughran.com to get yourself a free book.

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5 stars
224 (70%)
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80 (25%)
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12 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 177 reviews
Profile Image for Nicholas Kotar.
Author 37 books233 followers
June 15, 2020
David, David, David. I've been waiting for this book. I've read and liked all your other books. But they've only covered parts of what I needed to know. Some were too rudimentary, some were a little advanced for where I was. Then you dropped this bomb on us.

Wha??!!?

It's perfect. It's exactly what every single indie author needs to read and then to actually do. Short, pithy, and absolute gold. Going to be recommending this to everyone I know.
Profile Image for Davina Stone.
Author 12 books80 followers
November 12, 2020
Anything this bearded wonder espouses, I will follow. This book is now one of my top self-publishing bibles, in it David gives clear, sound advice,that is logical and easy for a technophobe like myself to follow. His advice is also interspersed with laugh out loud gems of silliness. Seriously this self-publishing journey is a hard road, so make it easier on yourself and read EVERYTHING David writes. He knows what he's talking about. And he's quite funny too. (Personally, I think he may have kissed the Blarney Stone).
Profile Image for Judith McNees.
Author 4 books27 followers
December 3, 2022
I got this for free when I signed up for David Gaughran's email list, and I honestly forgot I had it. I decided to give it a read to see if there was anything I'd missed. As someone who has been working for over a year to build my author platform, there wasn't much I hadn't already heard.

If you are just starting to build your platform, this will be very helpful for you. Gaughran is very specific in his recommendations, and most of what he recommends, I'd also heard of/seen recommended by others. He's forthright in that some of the things he included are affiliate links, but he's giving the book away for free so...🤷‍♀️

This is a no frills, right to the point guide, and even though I personally didn't glean anything new from it, I do recommend it. The advice is sound and lines up with other industry professionals I respect. You also get the added benefit of enrolling in his book marketing email list to get it, which is super helpful.
Profile Image for Armand Rosamilia.
Author 238 books2,742 followers
September 6, 2021
Lots of information without talking down to you. Lots of humor, too, which was nice. Breaks down the keys to having a good platform as an author and gives plenty of great tips to get there, whether you're a novice or been in the business for thirty years.
Profile Image for J. Hicks.
Author 7 books8 followers
January 18, 2022
I read this in tandem with Newsletter Ninja, and I feel I have a solid action plan without having to hit every platform.
Profile Image for Victoria.
624 reviews8 followers
June 21, 2020
An excellent guide to getting started with your author platform, and just as useful to those who have been going for a while but doing some of the wrong things (what joy to be able to leave the thought of blogging behind in good conscience!). A humorous and witty voice and if it was a little repetitive on some matters, at least they're important ones.

I've docked a star only because it was so brief and because some of the resources are accessed only via external links (yes, keeping them up to date is an excellent reason for that, but the fact remains that we readers are all inherently lazy so an ideal guide would include them).

The author states that he may at some point turn this book and its accompanying resources into a full-length book and I look forward to that with enthusiasm.
Profile Image for Sharon.
Author 38 books372 followers
August 2, 2020
Nice quick-start guide to setting up one's platform (Gaughran focuses on website, mailing list, and Facebook pages, but touches on other possibilities as well). I felt like it was more focused on new authors ... but it did serve as a reminder that I need to pay more attention to my mailing list!
Profile Image for Sarah.
493 reviews39 followers
August 23, 2020
Essential reading when you're starting out as an author (or if you haven't developed your platform yet).
Profile Image for John.
Author 22 books75 followers
Read
December 10, 2022
I think it'd be fine for someone earlier in their journey. Was all pretty standard stuff and nothing new.
Profile Image for N.L. Blandford.
Author 5 books7 followers
July 4, 2021
As an Indie author, all of the information out there is overwhelming. I wish I had read this before I published my first book in May. It may have saved me a lot of headaches.
This is a great starting guide on the 3 things to start with to build a following. I would have liked more information on mailing lists. However, I also appreciate that David recognized a great resource was already available. As he says, writing is all about using your time wisely, so why would he reinvent the wheel.
I look forward to checking out more of his stuff.
Profile Image for Ciara James.
Author 44 books660 followers
October 2, 2020
As an author trying to navigate the world of Indie publishing and how to grow your reader community and develop those into lasting relationships, this book cut through all the insanity and laid it out beautifully for me in easy to understand terms and gave me recommendations on what to use and why. I didn't have to go finding them for myself afterward and wondering if I was choosing the best one. I highly recommend this book to an author out there. Period.
Profile Image for Ellen Rittberg.
Author 3 books5 followers
December 20, 2020
As a reader and author who writes humorous self help books and poetry and fiction, I love how this author informs, instructs and shares his mammoth amount of knowledge about self-publishing with wit, wisdom, kindness and honesty. He tell what not to do (that he did earlier on) and concretely in a step-by-step not overwhelming way what to do. He's relatable and I learned a ton in a short amount of time.
Profile Image for Andi.
Author 20 books173 followers
September 7, 2020
Really good primer if you're just getting started on your marketing stuff as a writer. Clear, concise, and funny, too.
Profile Image for K.A. Mulenga.
Author 31 books63 followers
May 6, 2021
A very insightful book for us self-published authors. Its not too long and I learnt a lot from it.
Profile Image for Timothy Bruno.
1 review1 follower
December 15, 2022
Do you know how some books are all frosting? They are focused on the latest internet sites and whiz-bang services that are mostly designed to make the book's author an affiliate commission. They introduce you to "software as a service" companies that result in a vacuum cleaner hose sucking money out of your pocket in the form of monthly subscriptions. That's not this book.

This book is all cake! Less than a hundred pages and full to the brim of the basic necessities for a burgeoning author to begin building a platform. To be sure, there are affiliate commissions but only for products David Gaughran has used himself and deemed to be of worth. From the easiest way to get a website up and running to recycling and repurposing content across your entire digital footprint so you can keep your faithful readers engaged (and chomping at the bit to buy your next book).

Written with a light tone and plenty of humor, you can hardly go wrong starting with "Following."
Profile Image for Cheryl.
Author 87 books500 followers
November 5, 2020
This is a quick read, focusing on the major places where an author's time and money is best spent. I wavered between being inspired and thinking, "I need to hire someone to do all this."

He has sensible, logical advice on building and maintaining an author platform (also a definition). I've also listened to his webinars and come away with good info.
Profile Image for Jody Derby.
8 reviews
August 29, 2022
A neat guide that cuts through all the noise and walks you through exactly how to set up your author platform.
It can be daunting setting up an author platform. Where to start, where to host, how to get an email address and what WordPress theme to use, so many questions. This is a quick read that covered all of those points and left me with a clear list of actions I'm working my way through.
Straight talking and to the point, David shares some of the lessons he learned along the way.
Very useful indeed.
8 reviews1 follower
August 19, 2020
I wholeheartedly believe this book is the quickest way to get the most honest nitty-gritty detailed snapshot advice on how to setup the toughest part of a new author’s career: a rich reader following. The author’s wit and clear observations pare away all the time-wasting, ill-advised activities we might otherwise feel forced or encouraged to drown our careers in. There’s SO much value and wisdom in hearing his words! I am SO grateful we have David to steer us along the right route!
Profile Image for Daniel Bishop.
Author 2 books8 followers
October 22, 2020
This is a helpful book for what to do with a Facebook page, email marketing, and ideas for organizing your time.
Profile Image for Lola.
1,471 reviews242 followers
August 17, 2020
Following is a great short read that deals with how to set up an author platform and also what the goal of that and how to manage that. I like how David Gaughran stuck the basics here, explained why the three things he picked (website, mailing list and facebook) are necessary in his opinion for an author platform and how to set those up and then build it.

There are some great pieces of information in here. Most of this wasn't really new to me, but I like how he explained everything in a way that's easy to understand and follow if you're a new author. I also think this will help authors not to feel overwhelmed as setting up 3 things is a lot easier than doing all the things and there are plenty of resources and tips to set those things up. I also liked some of the examples about content for social media and how to tie that in with your target audience. I think that is really awesome if you can do that and I know some authors who really do that well on social media.

The only thing I didn't really care for was how with the website he only recommended one company for domain name and one for hosting. I personally like to receive recommendations and understand why the author recommends that, but I felt like that part was missing here. Although it might be on the resources page for this book as I haven't checked that out yet. I like the idea of the resources page so info can be kept up to date there, but I usually don't check it out until after I finish the book. For the mailing list he did have a few possible recommendations listed, although the focus was on his recommended one, which I liked.

To summarize: if you want to know more about how to set up and start your author platform and how to make the most out of this, this is a great book to pick up. It's currently free if you join the author's newsletter. It sticks to the basics, namely a website, mailing list and Facebook. And delves into how to set that up, tie it together and then how to use that to build your platform. There is plenty of information and advice. I especially liked the tips about how to tailor content to your audience and how the author sticks to the basics, but also says how easy it is to add something to your platform if you want to broaden it.
Profile Image for Stan James.
218 reviews4 followers
September 5, 2020
David Gaughran's latest on helping writers is a short volume on creating an author platform. With his usual wit, Gaughran cuts away the marketing hype and reassures the reader that an author platform is basically having an established presence online, not some great convoluted thing that would require a team of experts to assemble (though he does suggest outsourcing some aspects). He offers a mix of general and specific advice on what to do, ranging from what social media to focus on (to no surprise, he says Facebook is the one essential due to its reach, even if you may dislike Facebook as a company) to recommendations for hosting and content management systems (CMS)--and again, he not surprisingly recommends WordPress, which is to CMS as Facebook is to social media, though perhaps with less imperiling of modern democracy.

Much like his fourth (and now free) edition of Let's Get Digital, Following also comes with a link to online resources that Gaughran promises to keep updated, extending the book's usability beyond what is contained in the text.

For a beginning author, this is a welcome and even gentle way to introduce the idea of establishing yourself on the internet as a writer, even before you have completed your first book. Gauhgran's advice is sensible and much of it is based on his own experience--learn from his mistakes so you don't make them yourself! I especially like the tips that seem small or simple, but could have a profound effect (and may come as a relief to the starting writer), particularly in debunking some common beliefs, such as needing a robust presence on every social media platform, or needing to keep an active blog going. For those who have read Gaughran's other books on writing, it will be no surprise that he pushes hard on building a mailing list.

Gaughran teases the possibility that Following could be expanded in the future (and this would not surprise me, he has an admirable devotion to this set of books), but as is, it is still an excellent and recommended resource to the aspiring author.
1 review
August 8, 2022
David is my saviour. I published my first book in June, and before and after this, for months I've been researching marketing. Being someone who completely shuns social media, fears the idea of podcasts and interviews, and loathes the pretentious world of advertising; this part of being a writer has terrified me, and held me back for years from publishing. Churning the actual writing out is easy - I've been doing it all my life! Despite all the research and realising what I needed to do, I still had no idea where to start and was sinking into a depression. David's book has explained very simply what I absolutely need, where to start, and even better, step by step how to do it! Also that I don't have to do all the stuff that (at least for now) scares the hell out of me. This is what I wanted all along and now I have a plan I can finally get into action and hopefully publish some of more of my work and perhaps one day afford to reach my goal of writing full time. The fact that David is contactable on email should I run into trouble (which probably will happen) is a further assurance. I will certainly be following him and I recommend his work to anyone starting out in the world as a self-publishing author.
Profile Image for Conor Carton.
3 reviews
January 8, 2022
Following is a pleasure to read. It has solved a significant problem for me, hat concrete work should I do to create an identity as an author on the internet. David Gaughran provides an cler and substantial answer, build an Author Platfor.
Starting with providing an excellent and to the point explanation of what an Author Platform he continues with clear, detailed information regarding how to establish one.
The style is friendly, funny, engaging and laser focussed. I am impressed at the way significant ammounts of hard information are included in the book without ever being slabs of indegestible data.
Best of all there is a hugely encouraging tone to the book, it is not selling a product it really is providing support. David Gaughran clearly is very aware of the difficulties that are part and parcel of trying to develop a writng career and he quietly and steadily provides encouragement to realise that difficult in not the same as impossible.
I highly recommend this book, the whole business inftrastructure of writing for sale is massively daunting, David Gaughran makes it understandable and accessible.
6 reviews
May 30, 2022
David Gaughran is someone I discovered through the recommendation of Jenna Moreci in her YouTube video about free and cheaper marketing resources to look into, and I'm glad to now know about him!

This is a book which can only be accessed through sign up of his newsletter, but definitely worth doing such a small simple task to get it. As someone starting from absolute zero when it comes to the self-publishing and brand marketing aspects of writing and trying to be an author, this is another read (among the others I'm currently or have just read) which has been very informative, and I think it will be very helpful to others looking to learn and know just how to get started (mainly in the author platform building department, as that is of course the topic at hand).

Just a final personal comment, but loved reading about his input on blogs. I kinda kept going back and forth on whether or not a blog was truly something I should invest my time in doing, since I've heard from other places that it is a good or important thing to have, but I honestly never really cared to have one (at least for now). So, reading what he said on it helped me finally come to a decision on that!
Profile Image for Autumn Macarthur.
Author 69 books160 followers
July 26, 2020
Aimed at newer authors setting up their platform, this short easy read currently offered free to David Gaughran's newsletter subscribers suggests ways to set up author website, mailing list, and Facebook page as simply as possible, and do it right first time. I wish this book had been around when I was busy making all my newbie mistakes! David shares some of his early oopsies, well, I made all those and then some.
Even now, coming up on my six-year authorversary, I found some useful and actionable tips. I hope I'm not the only one who reads these books, thinks, "Yeah, great idea, I must do that," then forgets all about it. Easy answer - stop reading and do it now! I did that tonight for what is probably the first time ever, and now those bitty little must-do things won't be nagging at me on my mental To Do list.
I highly recommend this book and David's weekly marketing newsletter to both new authors starting from scratch and more seasoned authors who have the sneaking suspicion they haven't done all they could to get their reader-reaching basics in good shape.
Profile Image for Stuart Whitmore.
Author 16 books16 followers
August 1, 2020
Careers are supposed to earn money, hobbies are not. If you're serious about writing as a career, whether or not you've published anything yet, I highly recommend reading this book. It is short, and it will save you time beyond its own compact length by helping you avoid wasting time and effort and stress chasing "goals" that don't move your career forward.

There is a lot of advice out there about how to succeed in a writing career, and a lot is useless or harmful -- usually not in a direct-damage way but with insidious damage from draining the one resource you can't refill: your time.

This book cuts through that noise and helps you focus on the fundamentals that will build a durable, long-term career. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, it's not "one weird trick," it's a prescription for the work involved in building your career to make sure you get the best possible return on your investment of time and effort.
Profile Image for Dawn Dugle.
Author 30 books54 followers
July 22, 2021
Don’t read this book if you’re happy spinning plates all day long and not having enough time to write. This is not the book for you. Keep moving. Nothing to see here. Keep on spinning.

BUT - If you are considering becoming an independent (AKA self-published) author, this is a very good guide to start with.
Best of all it’s free if you sign up for David’s newsletter like I did.

For those of us who have been self-publishing for a minute, this is an excellent reality check.

David explains in plain English what a writer needs to create a platform, and most importantly WHY you need a platform. What it does for you.

What you should be doing and what’s a waste of time.

David covers the most important things writers need for their platform and gives real-world examples.

I found the newsletter ideas particularly helpful, although I’m saddened he left out the erotic fiction ideas. Alas, I’ll have to develop my own. 😉
Profile Image for Bruce Overby.
Author 1 book1 follower
January 1, 2023
I discovered David Gaughran on the web while searching for guidance on paid advertising for my debut novel—something I thought would be just the next step on my book promotion journey. Well beyond the guidance I was seeking, Gaughran’s tidy little book Following provided me with indispensable guidance on the author platform that I’d been working on for over two years. I was affirmed to discover, from a widely followed authority, that much of what I was doing was absolutely correct, but more importantly, I learned that the things I was emphasizing were often the wrong things. More than that, the guidance in Following resonated: it made intuitive sense to me. I read the book during the last two weeks of 2022 (don’t worry, I’m a painfully slow reader), and I’m excited to have this useful knowledge in hand as I reset my writing and promotion practices for 2023.
Profile Image for I.D. Johnson.
Author 78 books51 followers
June 18, 2020
This was a great guide that I was able to read in about an hour and a half, even with children interrupting. While a lot of the information wasn't new to me as I've been writing for about six years, it was nice to check in with an expert and see what I could be doing differently or better. I read all of David's books and always learn something, and this book was no exception. I'll certainly be changing some things up thanks to this guide. I highly recommend this book for new writers but anyone who's been writing for a while and wonders why their sales might not be as good as they think they should be should also take a look at it. Thanks for giving this book to newsletter subscribers for free!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 177 reviews

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