Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Healthy is Your Platform?

I was reading a writer's list group Sunday, and this remark from a small publishing company caught my eye (paraphrased to reduce the long post):

We are swamped with queries. The house has gone from 24 titles last year to a goal of 36 titles this year. As a result, we're considering two new lines. Now I understand why publishing houses take forever to get back to authors. To narrow down the prospects, I do an Internet search to see how healthy their profile appears. If all a potential author shows up on is Face Book, chances are I'll take a pass.

Not fair? Of course it's fair. In a stack of potential bestsellers, how does an editorial staff limit five hundred submissions to 36 without considering the author's online presence? Many good stories wind up discarded by publishers that don't have the budget to publish them all.

But it's a Catch 22. You can't have an online author's site without becoming an author, right?

Your presence doesn't have to be for writing a book. It can be for anything. The point is, do you have followers who would consider purchasing your product, whatever it is? Do you have a platform?

Someone on a LinkedIn  message board, recently asked a group of us the difference between brand and platform. Oh my gosh, you wouldn't believe the variety of responses. One even professed you did NOT want a brand for fear of stereotyping yourself like an actor, limiting your range and future work.

Brand is not platform. Brand is your reputation, name, logo or design. Platform is the sea of people interested in you and your work. The two aid each other. They are not interchangeable.

But if you wrote a mystery, and you have a five thousand Twitter following and double that for Facebook, whether it's for selling real estate or lifestyle coaching, you still have a platform from which to pitch your newest endeavor. Many of your current following will want to see that other side of you that writes mysteries - some who've never read a mystery before in their lives.

Platform is a following or potential following. It's a place from where you can announce yourself, literally and figuratively, and people know who you are when you do.

The following all have platforms for selling children's books, even if they've never penned one:

A teacher, published in professional teaching magazines.
A nurse, specializing in pediatrics, who gives online advice.
A mom who has a well-attended blog on new mothers.
A comedian who talks about family calamities in his blog.

Too many authors wait until they have a book to venture online. Sorry, that's too late. Get online now. Make that platform happen.


Anonymous said...

I listened to this advice a little over a year ago.. now I love the online community so much ... I have to watch my time spent there!

BECKY said...

I love reading this kind of news! It appears I've been doing things the right way, without being aware of it when I began! Thanks, always give us a lot of "hope" ...I know..groan...

quietspirit said...

Thank you for this information. It clears up a few things I didn't understand.

Kelly said...

"Brand is your reputation, name, logo or design. Platform is the sea of people interested in you and your work."

This is absolutely the best, most concise description I have ever seen! Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

*waves* to Michelle, need I say more, love this community.