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Platform

Every writer needs a platform. So say my how-to-be-a-writer books. Gone are the days when a writer can be published on the merit of her manuscript. Now, before most agents will consider her she’s got to have a platform. (And as for being published without a platform or an agent, only the small press–like Whyte Dove Press, publisher of my children’s novel, Man in the Moon–offers the novice her only hope of having someone even read her manuscript–or just her query–rather than toss it in the can.) So what’s a platform anyway?

Platform … like shoes, subways, scaffolds, soapboxes? Hmmm.

The 1970’s platform shoes (and more recent comebacks) elevate a gal to a level where she can look most guys straight in the eye. Does that mean having a platform will elevate me to the stature of literary greats and bestselling authors? Probably not. But it may let me look an agent straight in the eye when I’m trying to convince him/her to represent me.

Is an author’s platform like standing next to the fast track in a subway station, poised to leap on the next train bound for success? Something like that perhaps; one false move might be fatal. Or maybe it’s like a scaffold. From my platform I could spray paint my name on billboards or bulletin boards all across America–or the world–via the web. Can I build enough name recognition that mentioning K. A. Young at an office party will get as many knowing nods (as opposed to blank stares) as the names Shakespeare and Steven King? Probably not. But I may be able to use my platform to get an agent to remember my name after I’ve introduced myself.

Maybe a writer’s platform is more like a soapbox. By having a blog and a web site, I can have my say in cyberspace. People will rally ’round as they hear the beating of my drum and the blowing of my horn. If they like what I say and how I say it, an agent may see the dust of many browsers clicking on my horizon and come see what all the fuss is about. Maybe I’ll be offered a book deal.

Eeeks! As soon as I get my web site finished (next week I hope), I better hurry up and finish my next novel. Just in case my platform in the Gulf hits oil.

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