Is this considered "platform"

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SteveCorwin

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While writing a memoir detailing over 12 years as a homeless crack addict and felon, could I consider my extensive criminal background and years of addiction and homelessness as platform for the genre?

Or is a platform, as I have believed until recently, simply a following of some sort (social media, blog users, public speaking, etc)

I've read that trackable experience can be considered platform but does it have to be professional experience that is well known to the public?

I'm seeing a lot of the philosophy of "if no one knows you, they won't want to read your life story"

I'm going to finish it anyway and then finish the book proposal (they're both at about 40%) but I don't attract social followers very easily being that I'm a nobody. Not really sure what to do about the platform section of the proposal. Any suggestions?
 

cornflake

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While writing a memoir detailing over 12 years as a homeless crack addict and felon, could I consider my extensive criminal background and years of addiction and homelessness as platform for the genre?

No, that's not what a platform is.

Or is a platform, as I have believed until recently, simply a following of some sort (social media, blog users, public speaking, etc)

I've read that trackable experience can be considered platform but does it have to be professional experience that is well known to the public?

Those are both examples of platform, yeah -- though depending on topic , the scope, the publisher, your professional stuff doesn't need to be known to the general public, it can be specific to the area you're pitching.

I'm seeing a lot of the philosophy of "if no one knows you, they won't want to read your life story"

More true with autobiographies than memoirs, but yes, it's harder to pitch a memoir from an unknown person than from a celebrity. That said, there are plenty of memoirs of unknown people published all the time. It just has to have a good, compelling story, well told.


I'm going to finish it anyway and then finish the book proposal (they're both at about 40%) but I don't attract social followers very easily being that I'm a nobody. Not really sure what to do about the platform section of the proposal. Any suggestions?

Memoirs are generally pitched like novels. A proposal is good to have in case you're asked, and you certainly can be. However, focus on the ms and the query. If you don't have some sort of following, you're not going to build one now.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Memoirs, unlike most other non-fic, need to be finished first. Then queried. Sort of like novels, but it does help to have a proposal handy, because many agents do ask to see them for memoirs. And some insist on them with the query for all non-fic of any category.

Write the book as best you can. Edit it carefully. Keep your wordcount between 70K & 90K if possible.

Best of luck.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

SteveCorwin

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Well this is all news to me. Every resource I've read says that a proposal is REQUIRED for memoir. Good grief!
 

SteveCorwin

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If you don't have some sort of following, you're not going to build one now.

Why would you say that? It sounds pretty defeatist. No one had a following before they acquired one. What makes you say that about me?
 

KTC

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While writing a memoir detailing over 12 years as a homeless crack addict and felon, could I consider my extensive criminal background and years of addiction and homelessness as platform for the genre?

Or is a platform, as I have believed until recently, simply a following of some sort (social media, blog users, public speaking, etc)

I've read that trackable experience can be considered platform but does it have to be professional experience that is well known to the public?

I'm seeing a lot of the philosophy of "if no one knows you, they won't want to read your life story"

I'm going to finish it anyway and then finish the book proposal (they're both at about 40%) but I don't attract social followers very easily being that I'm a nobody. Not really sure what to do about the platform section of the proposal. Any suggestions?

I would say PLATFORM is what you pitch to your following...your area of expertise/what you stand for/what you offer. You tailor it to or find the following that would be interested in your platform.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Well this is all news to me. Every resource I've read says that a proposal is REQUIRED for memoir. Good grief!

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The trend towards needing a proposal for a memoir is increasing. Which may explain why you've been hearing that. But unless you're a celebrity or involved in a high-profile news event (9/11, Katrina, etc), you do need to write the book in its entirety first.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Siri Kirpal

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If you don't have some sort of following, you're not going to build one now.

Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Sorry, not true. Platform of various types can be built at just about any time by anyone. The exception might be someone in a coma...which Steve isn't.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Kalyke

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Can you look at this from another angle? If you set up a series of lectures or talks in other cities or your city, and did that for a few years, wrote several magazine articles, published in national magazines (or replace blogs for the word magazine), got some exposure on the news, or on talk shows... in other words, develop an audience...perhaps then, you could call it a platform.

State what you are doing... I am trying to expose the way that some people are just discarded by the system, or some generalized statement, so that in later writing you can move on to things like "child abuse by drug addicts," or "laws which marginalize drug addicts." It would be better if you had a Ph.D. in drug related social issues.

I do believe that you can create a platform based on your experience, but you would be a one-hit wonder, and doubtless that you would not have much of a career writing other books.
 

cornflake

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Why would you say that? It sounds pretty defeatist. No one had a following before they acquired one. What makes you say that about me?

It's got nothing to do with you personally, dude. A platform of the type agents are looking for with a non-credentialed expert is a lot of people and a history of attracting them. It's how stuff like that 'Shit My Dad Says' website became a book then a sitcom. You start a blog or Twitter or whatever now, while you're writing your book, the odds it picks up 100k followers (not bots) by the time you're pitching is... slim? It's not that that's a magic number, it depends on a ton of factors but a few thousand people is fairly meaningless. If you start trying to book talks, appearances, etc., or somehow get net attention, it's possible to build a following, but it usually takes time and effort that'd take away from actually writing the thing, and it's not that important unless it's major, so...
 

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When I was editing full-time (non-fiction, not memoirs) I thought of platform as evidence of expertise--not necessarily a following on social media, but something we could use to say, "Look at this author! They have expertise and experience in this area so you can be confident they are qualified to write this book!"

It's very hard to effectively promote a book written by people who have no experience relevant to their book. It's much easier to promote a book about natural history, for example, if the author has a PhD in the subject, or works for a conservation agency, or is well-known for presenting a TV programme about it.

Platform is often described as a following on social media, etc., but lots of publishers have found that this does not sell books. At least, not a significant amount of books. It can help, but it's not something to rely on.
 

eruthford

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While writing a memoir detailing over 12 years as a homeless crack addict and felon, could I consider my extensive criminal background and years of addiction and homelessness as platform for the genre?

Or is a platform, as I have believed until recently, simply a following of some sort (social media, blog users, public speaking, etc)

I've read that trackable experience can be considered platform but does it have to be professional experience that is well known to the public?

I'm seeing a lot of the philosophy of "if no one knows you, they won't want to read your life story"

I'm going to finish it anyway and then finish the book proposal (they're both at about 40%) but I don't attract social followers very easily being that I'm a nobody. Not really sure what to do about the platform section of the proposal. Any suggestions?

I don't actually know the answer to the question, but I just wanted to write and say that it sounds like a good idea for a book and it's something that I would read, and I hope you do get the manuscript done!
 

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