Aspiring authors are often stumped when they see agents and editors recommend a “platform” as part of pitching a book. A few people have emailed me, wondering what exactly this platform business is all about.
First of all, platforms are relevant for nonfiction projects. So for those of you rushing to finish your zombie gorefest slasher novel before Halloween, you don’t need to worry about platforms. Unless, of course, you’ve got a hanging scene in your book. In which case, you need to carefully plan the gallows platform’s dimensions.
But for nonfiction writers, a platform is becoming increasingly more and more necessary. The lovely Miss Snark defines a platform as, “a syndicated newspaper column, a speaking career, a blog with a LOT of hits, a career as a movie star, or lots of guest appearances on Oprah. Suze Orman’s platform was infomercials; Bob Greene’s was Oprah appearances; Harvey Mackay’s was a very very succesful speaking career.”
And here’s a perfect example of a fantastic platform. Although maybe drug smugglers don’t spend too much time reading books. I don’t recall Tony Montana in the self-help section of Miami’s bookstores. Never the less, here’s a whopper of a platform.
Publishers Marketplace reported last week that Roberto Escobar, the bean-counter for the Medllin Cartel’s financial enterprise, sold a book project entitled The Accountant to Crown. The book promises “revelations concerning how a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise is built, the novel engineering solutions that the cartel devised to bring its product to market, and the likely effectiveness of drug interdiction methods still in planning stages.”
How many overly-slick, “driven” young men do you know who devour Trump’s books? How many corner-office wannabes do you know who swear by Jack Welch’s management texts? Well, every tweaker, small time meth cook, every dude who barrells down Copperhead Road, and every person who feels a personal kinship with Tommy Vercetti in Vice City is gonna snort up this financial tome.
And that, friends, is a platform.