What's all this talk about platform?
I'm confused. It used to be a platform was something a non-fiction writer needed to sell a book. Think of it as an expertise. Think Dr. Spock. A pediatrician writing about raising children.
But the last few years platform has come to mean a lot more. Not only must you be an expert on your subject, you must bring along an audience to buy the book on your expertise. You must, in other words, have guaranteed publicity. Which is why celebrities of every ilk write books. Have you become infamous, involved in a sex scandal, now everyone knows your name? Write a book, go on TV, sell a million copies.
A few years ago, novelists didn't worry about platform. Your editor bought your book, arranged book signings, provided a little upfront money so you could hit the streets and help sell your book.
Not true today. You must have a platform to get your fiction published and that platform must be in place before a lot of editors look at your book. You must have a website, blog, do workshops, book clubs, Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, LinkedIn, every list you can think of, pester librarians and book store owners - every avenue that leads to sales. If you're young and cute, so much the better. Write a (fictional) memoir ala James Frey and his million little pieces and touch the public's heart strings. Voila! There's your platform.
Editors say they want great writing, and they do. The marketing department wants great sales. Where the twain meet is your platform. The bigger it is, the more buyers it will entice. Buyers equal audience. Audience equals publicity. Publicity equals sales.
I must go lie down. Standing on this platform is exhausting.
Gerrie Ferris Finger
THE END GAME
THE LAST TEMPTATION (AUG 2012)
THE GHOST SHIP