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Author Platforms in Asia

In Asia, this is considered a platform: Platform Diva :

It is popular in New York publishing circles to talk about a writer’s platform. But they aren’t talking about shoes. If you host your own network TV show, people know who you are, and the theory is all those millions who tune into your show will also be potential buyers for your book. Of course there are platform and there are platforms. Some platforms tower over a cultural landscape that can be seen across oceans; others are the size of a garden birdbath. Books have slipped into the entertainment and celebrity industry. They compete with other celebrity artifacts.

Of course there will be exceptions to the rule that publishers want authors with a large platform before signing them on. J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown were living on platforms so small before they hit the big time that it is doubtful they would have been visible to their neighbors.

The problem is this what is happening only seems to be counter intuitive. The book business to a romantic should be run like a small, exclusive chateau in France. And editors should acquire books the way a greater lover of wine acquires a new case of claret. Is there anyone left in publishing who keeps their job by acquiring books with these sensibilities? An editor who believes that your book is like a vintage bottle of claret, rare, smooth, and desirable for a niche market of readers will not be an editor for long. It is more likely that his or her job security demands the equivalent of a twist off cap bottle of chateau plonk that promises millions of people getting drunk on the entertaining story told by a celebrity.

Have a look at Sheelah Kolhatkar’s article “If You Build it, They will come – Hot in Publishing: Platform! and you will come away seeing that even the old hands in publishing have been sucked into the vortex of swirling platforms. Escher would have drawn a quite remarkable painting of the endless platforms, like tadpoles changing into frogs, transforming into infinity.

“The subject of platforms also inspired a bit of nostalgia for Larry Kirshbaum, the founder of LJK Literary Management and former chairman of Time Warner Book Group (platform’s Grand Central, along with Judith Regan’s ReganBooks).’When I started in the business—we’re talking in the early 70’s—books were sold on a literary basis: how great they were, how important their ideas were in helping to mold society or change the culture, etc.,’ Mr. Kirshbaum said. ‘Nowadays, we are using terms like ‘brand’ and ‘platform’ as a very important ingredient in the success of the book. You can have a great idea, but you need the platform.’”

What has become of the review culture? Remember the time when people read reviews of books and bought books according to strength of the review? Apparently that time ended with the electric typewriter, and it is only now that we are finding this out.

“The rise of inexpensively mounted cyber-platforms ‘means, in essence, that review culture is dead.’ said another publisher requesting anonymity. (The review culture may be dead, but that doesn’t mean this person wants to piss off The New York Times.) “They”—meaning reviewers—‘can love your book, and you know, it helps if all of them simultaneously love your book; that’s a great thing. But they don’t have the persuasive power that they used to.’”

Bottom line: if you have to explain your platform, you likely don't have one.

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