We hear advice over and over on how to build a platform. Aside from not having much in the way of carpentry skills, or if the only platform you’ve built is at Burning Man and that structure is only meant to last a weekend, how does an author build a platform?
What the hell is a platform?
Your platform is what you stand on to make your point.
How do you know what your point is?
Answer the question, why are your writing this book?
A feature about your platform that is not often mentioned – how happy are you with the structure? How committed are you to the subject of your platform? If you are passionate about a cause, or the subject matter of your non fiction book, you will relish the endless conversations, the lecturing, the book signings. But if you wrote a book because it was trendy, you will soon tire of the subject – your platform and you’ll become bored. You’ll want to crawls off your perch and sneak away. Your public life will suffer – and your fans will wander away, looking for an author who is more solid, happy with her perch, throwing beads, what have you.
Non Fiction – the point is the theme of the book.
From your lofty platform perch, articles, blogs, web site, twitter posts and targeting your audience will all flow. Think of the platform as your passion and beliefs. This is what you will stack all the social media to promote the book and all the subsequent books as well. The wider the platform, the easier it will be to find room for all your services and products. The higher the platform, the easier it will be for people to see you over the crowd.
Fiction – Find the central theme.
Is the underlying theme of your book child abuse? A discovery journey? Find a solid theme in your fiction that you are willing to discuss and expand upon, endlessly promote, perpetually engage in, and you have your platform.
For instance in Uncle Tom’s Cabin the story was about a mother losing her child. The platform was a call to end slavery.
Once you find that theme, you can write articles blogs etc. about that theme and the tie in is your fiction book that addresses the platform issue.
Children’s books- Your platform can be – reading is important – with your as an example of fine children’s reading.
Or the your book touches on a popular issue or theme. Again, be cautious of being trendy, you have to discuss this subject forever, it helps if you like it, better if your believe in it.
Memoir, can be regionally targeted or time targeted, whatever group will relate to your own story, their concerns are your concerns; that’s your platform.
It’s worth the time and energy to acquire the right materials for your platform. As tempting as it is, don’t hire someone else to build it. You may never find the stairs, you may never feel solid and comfortable. When you stand on your platform, you don’t want it to collapse.
For more on platforms, download Episode 2 of Newbie Writers Podcast.