I’ve seen a lot of talk about “platform” lately. Authors need to build one. It has to be just right. I found an article by Jane Friedman that seems to sum it up nicely.
Platform is one of the most difficult concepts to explain, partly because everyone defines it a little differently.
But one thing that I know for sure: Editors and agents are attracted to authors who have this thing called “platform.”
What editors and agents typically mean by platform
They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.
Let’s break this down further.
- Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
- Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
- Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
- Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodonist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?).
There’s more. Read it here.