Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why do I need a platform? This soapbox works just fine.


Yesterday I wrote a guest post over at Harry Potter for Writers here:

In the comments people mentioned that I *might* be the kind of gal who speaks her mind—and that’s true. I like to climb the tallest mountain and shout from its snow covered peak about things that I believe in. There is no shame there, I never claim to have all the answers but I will always know what I feel is right. No amount of naysayers or industry experts can take that away from me, or away from you.

Lately I have been reading a lot of about the importance of author platforms. Previously I ignored these types of informational posts, author platforms are for nonfiction writers, right?

Yes. But no.

If you are a politician, and you campaign on health care reform, that is called your platform. If you are a nonfiction writer you would need something that would make you an expert in your field, or qualified to write about your subject. Do you have a cooking blog that reaches 100k? That would be your platform. Are you a show dog judge with years of having your name out there? That would be your platform.

So how does any of this relate to the fiction writer?

It’s not like Amanda Hocking is qualified to write young adult vampire novels because she is a young adult vampire. I mean she could be, but I don’t know her business.

The more information I see on platforms for fiction writers, the more I realize they are using platform in the place of something else. A combination of audience, fan base, and followers. I see some people ask “What is your platform?” But what I hear is, “Who is going to buy your book?” Who, not what is the important part.

A million years ago Writer’s Digest had an article of platforms and it can be found here:

I think it’s more accurate than a lot of the platform blogs I see out there recently. I’d say the first section is the best, after that it gets into the same thought process that platform= some kind of angle. Which again is more true for nonfiction writers.

You don’t need an angle, you need a captive audience. People could argue my platform is writing, but it’s every other writer’s too. Other people would be compelled to say my book is my platform, or my genre is my platform but none of those are quite right either.

I have come to the conclusion, I don’t need to define a platform. The soap box of my blog is just fine. What I need is to sell a number of books, that no one can define but enough to be called a success, and then no one will care about a few planks of wood.

So when people tell you that you need a platform, take a second to think about what they are really saying.


Patricia JL said...

I always figured platform meant your blog and a place for readers to find you and interact with you. It's not really something I worry too much. =D

S.P. Sipal said...

"I mean she could be, but I don’t know her business."

LOL! You have such a way with words. And you're right. If you have NYT Bestselling Author in front of your name, you have a platform. :-)

Lisa Cohen said...

Exactly! I'll just keep blathering on my blog about the things that interest me. I figure that's who I am; that's what my writing reflects. If I have to work at being someone else, then what's the point?

Melinda S. Collins said...

I love this post!

I use my blog as a way to put myself out there, get to know people, and gain some insightful/helpful feedback that will assist me with writing, sharing, and *hopefully* selling my stories. :)

Mandie Baxter said...

Great post!!! Well said.

Chronicles of Illusions said...

Lots of great points in this - I enjoyed reading it and it made me think - which is always a good thing for a writer, :)

ali cross said...

To me, having a "platform" means having something people think of when they hear of you. Like Elana Johnson = funny, bacon, super helpful. I hope when people think of me, they think ali = honest, authentic.

I'm not sure what that means in the big picture, but it's how I want to be known and it's why I think my readers (those that have said so) visit my blog. They can trust what they'll get at my blog is ME. Whatever that is, lol. ;)

Rachel Brooks said...

It's great for authors to have a blog so other writers and readers can connect on a personal level with them. People don't like it when the only communication they get from an author is "Buy my book! Buy my book!"