I read an interview with the agent who is currently (happily) perusing (with growing delight over each passing page) my manuscript. In said interview, said agent expressed that he or she prefers to take on clients who already have platforms. So I went out and built a 4' x 5' x 10' wooden structure. (Punning, my mother tells me, is the first sign of a first-class intellect!*)
No, seriously folks. What is a platform? Basically, it means you already have a following. (Think, for example, Jesus or Glenn Beck.)
It is a reality of the publishing world. These days, publishers want immediate best-sellers. After all, about 90% or more of books never earn back the author's initial advance. In other words, publishers lose money on most books they print. Consequently, publishers are keen on authors (first-time or not) who already have a following so that, when the book comes out, there are already people who want to buy it, and everyone wins.
Perhaps you feel that this expectation reflects a certain laziness on the part of the publisher -- that they want to print the book, distribute it, then watch it sell itself. Maybe you think it's irrational that the marketing burden at first falls significantly on the shoulders of the least-established writers, instead of on major publishing houses with virtually unlimited resources. Perhaps you also feel it is a catch 22 that in order to gain recognition (say, for a book you wrote) you have to have already gained recognition; it falls into the same category as "it takes money to make money," "the rich get richer," and "good things come to those who wait patiently surrounded by adoring fans in their private pool." If you share any of these opinions about a platform, I direct you back to the topic sentence of the previous paragraph.
Whatever you believe, I, as a man of privilege, disagree with you. I have a platform, and people support me, and I intend to use those people's support to ultimately leave those people behind. Starting now.
Are you ready for my readership to triple, my handsomeness to grow, and my "like-rs" to surge past Clooney, Conan and JK Rowling alike?
Today, on November 22, 2010, I have a confession to make. Here it comes . . .
. . .
I was on the grassy knoll.^ Not only that, I switched Kennedy's body with another handsome Kennedy at the autopsy.^^ And I placed the pristine bullet on the stretcher.^^^
Please don't tell anybody about this confession (e.g., by sharing a link to my blog on your facebook page, or mentioning my blog repeatedly to your friends, or by buying advertising space on the History Channel, then donating it to my blog). I'm a very private person, and I would wither at all of the media attention I would get if people knew that I also rerouted the motorcade.** (Oops.)
* Carpentry is the first sign of a first-class Messiah. Happy Holidays!
^ May not be true
^^I was not alive in 1963
^^^Replace "pristine bullet" with "a small cat" and "stretcher" with "my lap"
**I stole the Lindbergh baby