I recently had a drink with a friend who writes. He must have had a burst of optimism a while ago. Or maybe it was morbid curiosity. At any rate, he had been browsing the miserable world of Submission Guidelines.
“What is a platform?” he asked, wincing as he spoke the word, knowing that whatever it was, it was icky. “They want you to have one now.”
So. I was going to be the one who broke the news to him.
Fine; somebody had to. “By platform, they mean a social media presence, or at the very least a web presence.” My friend already looked ill; the worst was yet to come, the naming of the presences. “You know - a Twitter account, a Facebook page, at minimum a website and ideally a regular blog. Instagram. Pinterest maybe.” I felt, watching his face, that I was punching him repeatedly in the gut.
When I was done pummelling him, my friend sat in shocked silence for a moment. Then he closed his eyes, and stated simply: “I’m finished then. I’m done. It’s over.”
He had never been one to entertain unrealistic fantasies; forced to quantify his chances of publishing success, he would likely have put them at 1 or 2 per cent. Now, however, he was scaling that probability down by orders of magnitude, from the minute to the infinitesimal.
Seizing the opportunity to smite a potential competitor dead, I agreed…. No, no, that’s not what I did. I spoke a few encouraging words, promised to help him establish a ‘presence’ once the time was right, and then said: “Anyway, I have my doubts about this stuff. Have you ever been inspired to buy a book because its author had a nice platform? Doubtful.”
Yet here I am.