The buzz around Ye Ol' Water Cooler these days is "platform." This is a word that's been floating around for a while now in the writing and social media communities, and while I kind of shield my eyes from these things (knowing damn well I shouldn't), it is vitally important if you have any hopes of showing the world who you are. Want to get started?
Jeff Goins recently wrote a piece about Why Building a Platform is Essential and How to Do It which is pretty useful in terms of defining the whole platform issue and what the point of it all is.
While I'll admit I'm on the bottom rung of this little ladder, I think it's important information to share from one writer to another so we can each put our best foot forward. While the platform isn't going to be the thing to sell your manuscript (the manuscript sells the manuscript) I'm sure being able to offer up a million page views, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends doesn't hurt sales potential.
Rachelle Gardner takes things a few steps forward with her 10 Tidbits About Author Platforms over at her blog too. To put it bluntly (which is how I prefer agents to be) she basically says don't worry about the platform if you aren't interested in selling any of these books you've been writing. True.
I like the analogy of the platform being the stage on which you stand as an author. I think then the kind of audience you draw to your performance is key, and knowing who those people are is essential to drawing them. That being said, the real work then is making sure you know what kind of production you want to put on and managing how you advertise the show.
How are you going to tell the audience the show is coming? How will they know if they want to go see it? All of this rests on your platform. Luckily, there won't be a pop quiz on this stuff, but it is up to you to create it, to dream it up and make it real. Otherwise, it just won't happen.
For me, I need to give my "platform" some thought and chart out some goals so I have some sense of direction before I leap off the diving board. Gardner offers up the 500 Facebook fans and 15,000/month page views goal and I think nothing is more convincing of how it takes time and energy and effort to build a platform than those numbers.
What about you? Tell me about your platform in the comments below.