As some of you know, I have this whole other line of work that helps anyone – particularly creative professionals – package themselves so they build a solid platform.
What... pray tell... is a platform?
A platform is what you stand for in the marketplace - your carefully defined niche … AND it's how many people out there know about it, and you. 'Platform' is the industry buzz word literary agents, TV bookers, magazine and newspaper editors, and just about everybody in the media uses when determining whether or not to feature you or do business with you.
As in "Nice idea... but what's the author's platform?"
Platform is what separates you from the pack; without it, you can kiss mainstream book deals, interviews, columns, and air time good bye. More than one literary agent and editor in major publishing has told me they seldom consider proposals for books or columns from writers with no platform.
Why? There are several answers, depending on whom you ask.
Book industry types need authors with platform because the publishing houses no longer have marketing money for books besides those at the top of their lists. That means they rely on unpaid publicity to sell books, i.e. airtime on radio and TV, and write ups in newspapers, magazines and websites.
Meanwhile, radio and print media folks are simply looking for the next big thing - or trying to anticipate trends. So if they run across an author or self-help expert with a platform that is quickly brewing, they're interested.
In addition, TV and other major media bookers need to know that the guest they trot out in front of millions is a proven entity, so they tend to really check you out in advance. They want you to have a website, media clips, a great press kit, a video reel. Your platform works as a kind of public pre-approval which reassures media bookers. And all of these folks have less time to do more, so they need everything they're offered to be laser-like in it's intensity and clarity, easy to access, and loaded with reasons why. A big platform certainly helps get the point across faster that you're someone to feature.
So your ability to 'break out', as it's known in the media, is not about the nobility of your cause or even, ultimately... sigh... the depth and quality of your work. It's all about how many people already know who you are and what you do. Like right now. Before all that great TV and magazine exposure.
This has to be this century's biggest catch-22, because how can your work actually get known unless you impress all those folks listed above?
The good news is that you can. Developing a platform is a straightforward affair that requires mainly focus, patience, and stick-to-itiveness … all qualities that are easy to conjure up when you're passionate about your work.
I’ll be running more on platform building tomorrow … do check back!