The past couple of weeks have been a bit frustrating for me in terms of what authors consider a platform and how they intend on using that platform for book promotion. Most of them have said:
I have a blog
Oh. I’m underwhelmed.
So what is a platform?
A platform is a term you’ll hear a lot in our industry. A platform is the vehicle that propels you to the forefront – how people know you. For instance, the ever-adorable and achingly charming Adam Eisenberg is a judge. Lotsa people know him. His book, A Different Shade of Blue – is about the first women in cops and their evolution within the Force. His platform is that he’s a judge – it’s how people know him – and his day job is a perfect shoe-in for promoting his book. He’s an officer of the court and rubs elbows with….cops! Because of his platform, he shows his handsome face all over.
The Horse or cart?
A blog, on the other hand, is not a platform. For most, it’s a hobby. Unless you are known because of your blog, like Jane Smith, who attracts all kinds of hits and adoring fans, you’re whistling in the wind. Her upcoming book deal is due to the popularity of her blog and her sage advice.
In Jane’s case, this is the horse pulling the cart [I’m not calling you a horse, Jane dear, so put your missile launcher away]. An author who thinks they’ll become known starting a brand new blog has an uphill battle. That is the cart pulling the horse.
For starters, blogs take a long time to become well-known and gain an audience. Popular author blogs are a hit because the author is already known. But how does one who isn’t a blip on anyone’s radar create a blog readership that impacts sales, demand, and popularity? In a word, they don’t. Not usually.
When your book comes out, that first year is make or break time. This is when the book will either catch fire and burn on its own inertia, or die a slow, withering death. A blog takes years to capture attention – provided it does at all. By the time you’ve gained a small readership, the book is no longer new.
If you want to do a blog, think about content. What do you have to say? Some blogs are naturals. Kate McLauglin wrote an incredible book about her children’s bipolar disorder. Mommy I’m Still in Here is a unique, amazing journey of a family in crisis. Her blog is an extension of her book. She offers advice on how to cope, how to keep the family together, how to stop playing the blame game, etc. It makes perfect sense for her to have a blog because this is an issue near and dear to her heart, and the hearts of millions of bipolar families and sufferers.
The blog was a natural extension of her book. Horse pulling cart. This is a blog filled with resources and advice. Her content relates to her book. But at no time did she ever try telling me a blog was part of her promotion plan.
What about your blog? Do you have enough material to keep your blog germane to your book? Is the topic big enough? Most author’s blogs I view run out of steam because you simply can’t talk about your novel day in and day out. If it’s fun and gives you pleasure, go for it. But don’t believe that it will propel you to a bestseller’s list.
The time to do this is ages before you start the query process. If I see that you have huge comment numbers, then I’ll believe your established internet presence is part of your platform.
Keep the blog bit to yourself
In a word, blogs aren’t a platform, they aren’t promotion in the way that I think about promotion, so don’t make that part of your book proposal. If you do, this is where you can insert <editor yawn here>.