Platform is a concept rife with built-in metaphorical significance. According to Dictionary.com, a platform is “a raised flooring or other horizontal surface, such as, in a hall or meeting place, a stage for use by public speakers, performers, etc.” On the surface of things, this seems like a good metaphor for what writers are trying to do. After all, writers want to raise themselves above the crowd so people will take notice of them and buy their books.
That doesn’t sound so bad, now does it?
Except that it is.
Businesses are learning that connecting to their customers is the way of the digital economy. See, customers don’t like people standing above them, looking down on them, telling them what to buy and how to live. So, businesses are becoming more responsive—engaging with customers via social media, bowing to social pressures to operate in socially responsible ways, etc.
Being a customer yourself, you probably know this already. So, why would you think that your readers would you want you to do anything less?
So, I don’t think of a writer’s platform in terms of a soapbox or a dais. I think of “platform” more as a building or a dwelling that the writers live in and invite their readers to visit, metaphorically speaking. You have to build your dwelling, just like you have to build your platform. Unlike a house or an office space, you can’t build a platform ready-made.
You have to build your platform, because it has to be something appropriate for you. It should be unique. For some writers, it’ll be homey and comfortable. Others want something flashy and sophisticated. Your building could be, metaphorically, a house, a skyscraper, a castle, or a space ship. The point is that you have a place for you to reside and a place for you to invite your readers to visit.
Your platform is the structure you use to reach out to your readers—which is consistent with the traditional metaphor. But it also needs to be a place where readers can reach you—like a home away from home, where you can receive calls, mail, and instant messages.
So, what should your platform look like? What kind of place do you want to invite your readers to visit? What kind of place would feel like home for your work?