Friday, March 26, 2010

Platforms (and I Don't Mean the Shoes)

I recently attended a Writer’s Digest webinar titled “What Editors and Agents Want.” Great information but sobering. Not only does a writer’s manuscript have to be well-written with a fresh theme, he or she must provide proof of platform. The 60 of us on the call paused for the punch line. Platform. Our ability to build a community willing to purchase our book. Examples include blog followers and Facebook friends. Well, that sent a panic through the group. The vast majority didn’t write a blog nor could they imagine building up 1,000 or more followers (the presenter’s recommendation).

Publishers aren’t willing to take risks as they did in the old days. They want to know a writer will be a partner in marketing the book and generating sales. The presenter acknowledged platform is more important when pitching a non-fiction book. You have to be an “expert” of sorts to prove your book has credibility and platform adds to that. Fiction writers won’t necessarily be held to the same standard but the question will be asked. “Who will want to read your book?”

I have 126 Facebook friends. I could increase those numbers by adding work colleagues from Goodwills across the country or school mates from childhood but the platform would be artificial. Just because someone remembers me from grade school or has met me at a conference doesn’t mean he or she would buy my book. Plus, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook right now. Posts I want to read are buried in hundreds of non-sensical ones from people with whom I rarely connect. Do I really want to add another 500 people who really don't give a hoot about me?

I have a hard enough time writing my blog regularly and only a few people actually read it once I post (thanks, guys!). Sitting in my chair, this dreary Friday morning, I’m overwhelmed with how to build my blog readership. If you have ideas, just let me know. I think it counts if you sign up your pets as followers.


  1. Mandy, I had a powder day recently with a ski patroller who, instead of bombing down as many runs as possible, led us to her secret powder stashes. we didn't make as many runs, but they were all incredible. She made the comment that "Quality is more important than quantity." You may not have that many followers on FB or your blog, but those that you do have are interested and dedicated- they are quality followers. Keep writing for those of us who enjoy it. The rest will come. (I also apply this principle to my SunSoul projects!)

  2. Mandy, I'm with you. I can't imagine getting FB friends or blog readers in the quadruple digits, but I have to believe that when I've got a Really Good Book to talk about, it will happen. And since I'm a ways away from said RGB - maybe a year until this memoir is where I want it, though there's no telling if it will be "good" - I don't have to worry about my platform yet. Tra la!

  3. I agree with Deonne - write the book first, worry about the platform later. Call me an optimist - but I believe a good book will find its readers.