The buzzword in promotion is platform. Agents and editors want their authors to have a brand, a tagline, an expertise that sets them apart from everybody else. For nonfiction writers, this concept is fairly straightforward. If I’m writing a book about training cats to line dance, then I must establish myself as an expert cat trainer—by blogging, giving talks to cat therapy groups, and writing articles for publications focused on all things feline. But how does a fiction author establish a platform/brand?
Cozy mystery writers give their characters specialties—knitting and rock collecting and what not. And thus they have some basis for a platform and brand tagline: Dirk Daring, author of the Australian spelunking mysteries.
But what if you write plain old crime stories? And each story is purposefully a little different, except for the featured regular-guy homicide detective? What sort of platform can you establish? Especially if you’ve never been a police officer, or pathologist, or crime scene tech in real life? What kind of tagline can you use that’s distinct from hundreds of other crime writers? Can you really have a platform?
If you do find a way to make your stories or series unique and taggable, what do you do when you start a new series or write a standalone or break out and write a futuristic thriller—all of which I hope to do someday. A new brand/tag for each endeavor? Or do you add to your original tagline as you go along?
L.J. Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mysteries, who also writes standalone suspense, futuristic thrillers, and the occasional cat-training manual.
The real question is: Do crime writers really need a platform? Or is being a twisted spinner of lies enough of a specialty? How about a little truth in advertising?
L.J. Sellers, closet deviant masquerading as a novelist.
Writers: Do you have a platform or tagline? What is it?
Readers: Do you pay attention to taglines? Are they useful in selecting new authors?