Platform. When I began writing umpteen years ago, I never associated platform with my words and stories. But these days platform is crucial for writers. Not necessarily for the process of writing, but for pitching and selling what we’ve written. To an agent. To a publisher. And ultimately to readers.
A platform is something you stand on – literally or metaphorically. It’s the foundation. The support. Or for PR, it’s your handle, the hook. It’s what interests people, catches their attention, makes them sit up and take notice.
Writers of nonfiction have it easy when it comes to defining their platforms. The platform for a writer of health-based cookbooks is health-based cooking. The platform for writers of parenting books is their particular viewpoint on parenting. The problem for many writers of fiction, including me, is that we can’t see our platforms. What’s the angle that will interest interviewers and draw readers? I thought maybe writing was my platform. But no. Maybe the subject of my first three novels: angels? No. The historical setting of my novels? No. The craft of writing, or angels, or ancient history may interest a few people temporarily. But what happens when I write another novel, maybe contemporary and without angels. Or a picture book? Or . . . I couldn’t get my mind around my platform.
Then a few months ago, I attended a media-training workshop offered by my regional group of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, or SCBWI. Mimi Bliss of Bliss Communications guided about twenty of us in the art of being interviewed. She challenged us to think about what our “angle” was, our platform. Mimi gave us tips on the art of being interviewed, and an interesting discovery came to light as we watched Mimi interview each volunteer. The rest of us found ourselves intensely interested primarily in who they were. After we became fascinated by the author and her life, we were interested in what she had written. The authors were their own platforms.
Most of us were surprised that everyone else thought our lives were interesting. I think we feel rather ordinary and dull. But believe me, the writers interviewed that day led very interesting lives. We all left realizing that other people find our lives interesting.
According to PR wisdom, a writer’s blog is supposed to highlight the writer’s platform. So, for better or worse, for the foreseeable future (sounds like a wedding vow!), on my blog you get me – my thoughts, my musings, and if we’re lucky, inspiration. Maybeso.