Dear Miss Snark,

Even though I have tried to educate myself on the publishing industry by reading everything I can get my hands on -- especially your blog since it contains a wealth of information -- I can't seem to get a handle on the term "platform" as it applies to writers.

Obviously I know what a platform is with respect to political candidates (I mean besides a false promise), e.g., a promise not to raise taxes. And I understand the term when a Miss America candidate states that her platform is Type I Diabetes. But when I see "a writer must have a platform in order to be successful," I'm confused. Does it mean: target audience?; a cause (and if that's the case, how does it apply to genre fiction?); does it refer to a viable marketing plan?; or is it none of these.

I would appreciate knowing your definition since I'm tired of feeling so nitwittish about this term.

Platform means you have a way to reach book buyers that doesn't involve "the ususal suspects" like "I'll go on Oprah" or "I'll visit bookstores".

Platform can be a syndicated newspaper column, a speaking career, a blog with a LOT of hits, a career as a movie star, or lots of guest appearances on Oprah. Suze Orman's platform was infomercials; Bob Greene's was Oprah appearances; Harvey Mackay's was a very very succesful speaking career.

Platform is what you bring to the table for sales outlets.

You don't need platform for novels. You need it for almost everything else.


Anonymous said...

"You don't need platform for novels."

Oh, thank dog, I thought I was screwed.


Chumplet said...

I work for a newspaper, and I intend to take advantage of it if and when my book sells. FREE EDITORIAL! WHEEEE!

Anonymous said...

If you check out the October 17 entries at clooneystudio.com, you will see a novel that appeals to George Clooney fans. Now THAT'S a platform.

acd said...

I think this may be a case where if you don't know what it is, you haven't got it.