What is an Author Platform?

I’ve talked about platform before on the blog but it’s always a nice refresher to get a different perspective and a reminder of 1) what it is, and 2) why it’s important. To do that, I’m turning to a book I’m reading right now: Christina Katz’s Get Known Before the Book Deal. Enjoy an excerpt below.

What is Platform?
The world platform simply describes all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential or actual readership. Platform development is important not only for authors; it’s also crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership.
Your platform communicates your expertise to others concisely, quickly, and decisively with clarity, confidence and ease. How visible are you? How much influence do you have? How many people know and trust you? If others recognize your expertise on a given topic or a specific audience or both, then that is the measure of your platform success. 
Three Key Questions
Here are three simple questions I always ask workshop partiocipants about platform. The answers will help clarify where you want to be that all-important one year from now.
      1. Who are you known as in the world as a writer now?
      2. How do others see you now?
      3. Who would you like to be known as in one year?
It’s important not to exaggerate these descriptions. If you’re not sure, ask some people who know! Be realistic, and set a reasonable goal for the one-year time frame. Don’t try to go from completely unknown to bestseller. That’s very unlikely, especially if you don’t have a book deal yet. But perhaps from completely unknown to well known in your city, region or state is reasonable.

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0 thoughts on “What is an Author Platform?

  1. Kristan

    I agree that a platform can be a great way to garner attention for aspiring writers. Blogs in particular are easy to set up as a platform, and can be great fun. Plus they provide another form/forum of writing to practice.

    But sometimes platforms can be harmful too. Your questions are a great guideline to help avoid turning your platform into something that will work against you. YA writer Kiersten White also had a comical take on that: http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/2009/11/to-blog-blahg-or-blargh.html

    (Although she never refers to anything as "bad," I think it’s safe to assume that some platforms are at least *less* helpful than others.)

    ALL that said, however, I think the writing is still the #1 thing, at least for fiction writers. I know sometimes I think too much about blogging and networking and all that other stuff, and my stories get neglected as a result. That’s something I’ve been working to remedy and will hit really hard as a 2010 resolution/goal. 🙂


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