I'm starting to see platform as a profane word. How do you build a platform when you're writing fiction vs. nonfiction? If you're someone like Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs, you write fiction based on your career. But what about people who write fantasy? There are few jobs, if any, I can think of that would be related unless your fantasy character has a mundane job of some sort, which is entirely possible.
You can make a blog that has to do with your fiction topic in some way (or I suppose you could make a blog about writing, but who would do that? Though I didn't create this blog for that reason.). I think J.A. Kazimer has done a fun blog to create a platform for her book F**ked up Fairytale, which isn't out yet. She set up the New Never News blog with mixed up fairy tales.
Colorado mystery author, Beth Groundwater, has a new series out that involves river rangers. She's a hobby rafter and has a lot of experience with it, so she did a whirlwind blog tour where she posted on a different blog each day about her book or rafting or something else related. The blogs weren't necessarily writer's blogs, but it all had to do with her platform. She's excellent at self-marketing, by the way, and I find I'm watching her and mentally taking notes.
You have to be creative to figure out a platform that will get your name out there, but it pretty much has to be online, at this point. You need to have a presence. Knowing other authors can also help, because they can help get your name out there, and we're all readers. If you're anything like me, you're probably always eager to hear about a new author or book to read.
Why should we develop a platform, you may ask? Isn't that the publisher's job? Shouldn't they market for us? From what I've read and heard from various local authors, the publishing companies don't seem to be doing much of the marketing unless the authors have already proven themselves. There are just too many books being published, and their marketing departments/funds are limited. If you truly want to sell your books, you have to market them, as well as yourself. This was one of those details that surprised me. I had this quaint little idea that I would write the book, find a publisher, and that publisher would take everything from there. They'd market, they'd arrange signings, they'd do it all. Pretty funny, huh? Boy, was my first conference an eye opener in terms of the real world of publishing.
Have you figured out a platform yet? I'm still working on it.