Sunday, July 29, 2012

What is a writer's platform?

A writer friend asks, "What is a platform? I should know what it means but I don't."
How many people want to hear from you?
 Platform is just a fancy word for "how many people want to hear from you?"

If 100,000 people seek out and read your every blog post, story or novel, then you have a large platform. With this kind of platform you will not have any trouble getting published by a traditional publisher, or (if you choose) selling your own self-published books.

There is no single measure of platform. It is a sounds-sort-of-scientific-and-serious-number thrown around by agents and publishers. Often used to browbeat writers or justify publishing-or not publishing-a book.

Platform is measured by a combination of things like:
- number of people on your email list (the ideal list is one that consists only of people who have asked to be on the list, and who would be upset if you removed them)
- number of people who read your blog
- number of people who comment on your blog
- number of YouTube views of a compelling 3-5 minute video you make, telling your story. Ideally it goes viral and gets hundreds of thousands of views.
- number of people who subscribe to the RSS feed of your blog
- number of people who get your newsletter
- number of twitter followers
- number of unique hits on your website
- number of facebook friends
- number of downloads for a free book you wrote and posted on your website
- your Klout score

If you don't have a platform, your options are to create one (takes time, like six months to two years) or you can use what's called a "proxy platform."  One way to have a proxy platform is to start writing articles for a blog or magazine with a large readership. For example, the Huffington Post.

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