Platform Prevaricating

I’m sorry for the delay in posting; I’ve been buried under freelance projects and grading papers. But with the end of the semester in sight, I’m eagerly looking forward to working on the next steps of publishing my memoir!

First, of course, I’m querying agents who seem like they would be good fits, who represent memoir authors and have similar interests. I’m also working on all the pieces of my proposal, in case I need it: a synopsis, marketing plan, outline, etc.

It’s this “platform” thing that’s got me stuck. Everything I read or hear about it is that if you want to get published, you have to have a platform – basically an internet/social media presence that attracts a following. This is fairly straightforward if you are writing a book about vampires, or a memoir about recovering from addiction, or any other common theme that you can style yourself an expert in.

My problem is that my memoir isn’t about anything common. It’s about growing up poor in the rural Ozarks in the 1980s. There is domestic violence in my childhood, and later, a clash with meth culture and teen pregnancy. Through it all, it is my “faith” (for lack of a better word) in Wicca that both sets me apart and gives me the strength to overcome these things. In short, my story is the story of an outsider, and those who might want to read it are probably outsiders themselves, albeit for different reasons.

I keep coming back to the same question: where is the platform in that? I have, for years, tried to build a “platform” as an advocate for the poor (especially women) and for religious freedom. It got me nowhere. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong. On the other hand, maybe not everyone is a single theme. Maybe some of us – perhaps even most of us – have stories that are too rich, complex, and multifaceted to fit in a neat marketing niche.

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