Those of my clients that have not published yet are busy building their platform to make their submissions more attractive to a publisher AND to be better positioned to help sell the book when they get a deal and it comes out. Those that have books out are doing the same thing trying to expand the visibility they have and the book has in order to improve sales.
So what is a platform? It's something a speaker stands on to speak. How is that applicable here? A publisher wants to know when we are standing on that platform, who is out there in front of us? Or in other words, What people or groups of people do we have direct access to in order to promote our book?
They aren't looking for us to guarantee that we can sell them all, they just want to know we have the access. We get proposals in that say this book will appeal to both male and females from 18-80. Great! How can you get a bigger platform than that, right?
Wrong. That is no platform at all unless you have some means of direct access to all those people. If you do it is an awesome platform. If not it is a dream of who we would like to see buy our book, and by the way, it's who every author in the known world wants to buy their book.
A platform is also about where those people are located that we have direct access to. If we write a column in a newspaper and attend a really big church, are in the largest civic club in town and have local media coverage available we have a very good local platform. If we can do the same thing over the counties or the region then we have a regional platform. You can see where I'm going here, as we can also have a statewide platform or even a national or international platform. It doesn't take a genius to see that the larger the number of contact points and the wider area they are spread over, the more a publisher is impressed and the more chances we have to impact the sales of our book.
Online visibility is a great platform took particularly since online book sales are getting so important. A large group of friends and family spread all over that will help generate buzz, talk about the book and maybe the the local library to shelve it are a good tool. Blog tours and having a blog ourselves can help. Doing booksignings and giving programs and getting media coverage is important. And getting visibility doesn't even have to be about the book. We could be going to talk to the national swine producers conference which might have nothing to do with a fiction title we are promoting but if we can get mention of our writing as part of the intro and have an opportunity to sign books while we are there that is great platform.
There would be no way to list all of the possible planks for a platform. Literally any means we have of being in contact with a group and putting our name and our book in front of them is valid platform. And the more unique they are to us the better.
And yes, this blog is an important part of my platform as is the one I contribute regularly to over at http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/