Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Platform Shoes

Earlier this week I spoke to a group of aspiring writers about the importance of building their platforms. What exactly is a platform?

Sometimes referred to as "content" by literary agents, a platform is just that: a podium from which your work is broadcast. How will people know about you? Why will your book sell and to whom?

A writer's platform is usually built brick by brick upon a foundation of his or her knowledge of the subject being promoted. Bricks include level of expertise (people will listen to you because you're an expert on the subject, or at the very least know more than they do about it), experience (your book is about a new technique for making donuts and you've been a baker for 20 years), and marketing strategies.

The latter is extremely important to agents and publishers and should include a web presence (website, e-newsletters, personal blog and appearing on other blogs as a guest or blog interview, Twitter, Facebook or other social networking outlets, etc.), speaking schedule (doesn't have to be extensive but publishers like to know that somebody wants to hear what you have to say), and plans for promoting your work. Are you willing and able to travel for book promotion? Do you have any hooks in mind to draw audiences?

One of my hooks is presenting writing workshops - many are free to the public - at libraries, schools, and for various groups, at which I display and sell my books. With decent advertising (media is always happy to advertise free educational events, which also gets your name out before the public), these are generally well attended (well, who wouldn't want to go to a FREE workshop?). As word circulates how beneficial they are, I receive more and more invitations and my name and books become better and better known. Good press, excellent promo.

So what is your platform?

If you're still limping around on beginner wedges, it's time to start lacing those platform shoes!