#inden {text-indent: 25px }

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Platforms, Formation of

Looking to sell a nonfiction book? On your list of "must-haves" are these two:
a) a compelling topic (duh);
b) a platform.

Agents and publishers say platform and my mind goes dark, in the same way it goes all blank when my brother, a commercial interior designer, says "systems planning."* What does that mean? Perhaps because I'm awash, I get random water-connected images: Olympic platform divers and the square wooden-planked raft tethered in the middle of the lake.

For a writer, a platform is whatever the writer has or does or is that can be employed in spreading the word about one's book. For example, say the president of the country's largest biotech trade organization writes a book about biotechnology. He has an excellent platform. He has a ton of contacts interested in the subject that he can tell about the book, and he'll be speaking all over the place at events where his book can be mentioned or even sold on the spot. His organization could buy copies of the book; companies that are members of the trade association could buy a lot of copies. An agent looks at that and sees dollar signs.

It would be wonderful if all we had to do is write the cussed book -- isn't that hard enough?! -- but no, you get to market yourself, too. And part of that is building a platform before the book publishes. In fact, publishers love proposals that show an author has an audience base already.

That audience base can be tied to speaking engagements, a Web site, activity in an organization (preferably tied to the book topic), regular appearances in the media (radio, TV, print, online). The more you're positioned as an expert -- either on the topic or as a good writer -- the better off you are, in terms of platform.

*Systems planning has something to do with how the interior designer for office space puts together the walls, desk, files, etc., that come from a particular line (system) of office cubicle suppliers.

category: markets


Post a Comment

<< Home