|Platform One at Minehad Railway Station|
Photo by Ross Hawkes, via Flickr.
Exactly what a platform is can cause people to stutter while trying to explain the term. Some say it means you have a cause. Your book is about curing cancer. Or your protagonist is a recovering alcoholic. Or … you have something to talk about that might get you publicity. Even more so, if you yourself have conquered cancer or been sober for twenty years.
Some think it means that your book touches on a topic that is hot, like the politics in the Middle East or the two lovers end up together because of their work on global warming. Because those topics are relevant, you could get on talk shows.
Although all of that would most likely be a help in promoting your book and can be part of a platform, it’s not really THE platform.
Your platform is your ability to get publicity and sell your book. You are already a well-known speaker with an active line-up of appearances. You’re an established expert in the field you’re writing about. You’re a celebrity who could get on TV for blowing your nose. Everyone knows your name because you have a radio show or you’re a columnist at a major paper. Or you have contacts. Lots of contacts.
You and I may not have fat black books crammed with networking contacts. But all writers can start trying to build a database of people they could turn to for blurbs, help, recommendations, or promotion. And the time to start is before you publish that book.
Start collecting names and contact information on everyone you meet or know. If it’s a passing acquaintance, record how, when and why you met. If that contact has a contact that might be valuable, note it. If possible, put it in a searchable database. Be diligent.
A platform doesn’t appear overnight. It takes time to build. Get your tools out and start hammering.
Helen Ginger is an author and blogger. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in Spring 2014.