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Thoughts on Platform

Thoughts on platform building, plus super-sluggers, typeface rockstars, and the flute

Paige Bowers
Paige Bowers
6 min read
Thoughts on Platform
Platform doesn't have to be a drag.

I got a question from the crowd that I’d like to address. The question comes from Wendy, and it’s about writer platform. 

Her question: In today’s current social media environment, how much time do you spend building your platforms? Does it seem the more followers you have, the chances are greater of being published? Where do newsletters fit into all of this?  Is it true you don’t get a deal if you don’t have a presence?

I think the first thing I need to do here is to define platform. In the simplest and most capitalistic way, it’s your ability to connect with readers directly (and ultimately sell books to them). Social media is part of that, but not all of it. Components of platform include (but are not limited to): where your work appears, any professional groups you might belong to, and how you make a qualitative/quantitative impact doing what you do.

For example, if you are a certain freelance queen in South Louisiana, who regularly contributes stories to your local paper, that is part of your platform, along with your social media following, and maybe an alumni association. Other examples of things that contribute to your platform are: winning awards for your work, getting booked for speaking engagements, offering workshops about a specific area of craft, or creating and hosting a podcast. Of course, you should also have a website that shows off your craft and gives people a way to contact you so you can do more of it, thus adding to your platform (one hopes).

Again, these are examples. The point is to look at the ways in which you might be reaching and providing value to people and reflect on how those elements come together to create a greater whole. I've taken online classes with Jane Friedman and Dan Blank, two experts who have helped many, many other writers with these questions. I highly recommend turning to them if you are at this particular crossroads in your writing life.

Jane penned a must-read piece about platform recently, and I like that it nudged me to come here and talk to you about the things "that [I] as an author want to talk about ordinarily and enthusiastically." I hope it gives you permission to do the same in the place – or places – of your choosing. You don't have to be on every single social media platform for hours and hours a day, nor should you be. Although I am on Threads and Instagram, I like having my own (FREE!!) newsletter. It comes from me, through my own site, and it goes directly to you. It allows me to share the things that are interesting or meaningful to me (and possibly others) and interact with you in a space that doesn’t belong to some Moon Boy with astronomical bakery bills. I have so much fun writing this weekly letter. This is how it should be. I hope you enjoy receiving it when it arrives in your mailbox. And I hope that this has been helpful!

Let me know in comments.

Who I'm writing about: Miami Marlins super-slugger Luis Arraez.

Hooray, baseball season is almost here! In this month's issue of Aventura Magazine, I spoke with Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez about his journey from Venezuela to the major leagues, his love for the video game Call of Duty, and his pursuit of a World Series championship. Nicknamed "La Regadera" (The Sprinkler) for his ability to spray hits all over the field, Arraez became the second player in MLB history to win batting titles in both leagues, and the first to do it in back-to-back seasons. I bet you'll never guess how he learned to be so deadly at the plate. It's a great story, and you'll find it here.

As fun as this piece was for me to write, I'd like to take a moment here to share a few of his crazy stats with you.

  • He went 5-for-5 at least three times last June.
  • He only struck out 34 times in the 162-game regular season. For context, the only player even close to that was Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets, who KO-ed 65 times. In general, top hitters in the league strike out about 100 times a year.
  • The average major league baseball player hits .151 on pitches out of the strike zone, but Arraez bats .367 on out-of-the-zone pitches...which is JUST UNREAL.

Caitlin Clark declares for the WNBA draft, and a Hidden Figure of hoops emerges.

Photo: AP

Iowa's Caitlin Clark just declared for the WNBA draft, where she will very likely be the number one pick. Although she is the NCAA's all-time scoring leader with more than 3,527 points, there is a woman who played at a tiny college close to home who scored even more than that. Her name is Pearl Moore, and The Athletic had a great feature on her today. Because I am all about giving little-known women their flowers, I hope you'll take the time to read this piece about Moore, who for all her accomplishments on the court, is proudest of her college graduation ring.

What I'm geeking out about

Typography tools are kinda...scary. Photo: Molly Young/NYT

Shifting gears...

You know what's kind of fun? Bookbinding. No, really. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. But if you do decide to try it, please be careful, because it requires a lot of sharp, pointy tools. I would know. One of my fingers had a run-in with an awl this week.


You know what else seems like a fun, but potentially dangerous endeavor? Old school typography, with all its molten metal and fire. I loved reading this story about the Museo Bodoniano, which celebrates the life and craft of Giambattista Bodoni, rockstar typographer of the 18th century. His Bodoni typeface is so iconic that it is used on everything from book covers to fashion labels like Valentino. Napoleon was a huge fan of his work, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the hard labor it entailed. You will be too.

Having said that, it's worth noting that typography has been a largely white, largely male field. However, various creatives have been trying draw attention to the women and people of color in the profession, all of whom are doing beautiful, groundbreaking work. Here's hoping that recognition leads to more opportunities for them, and perhaps even a future museum in their name.

In case you missed it: Last week I interviewed Carolyn Porter, rockstar typographer of the 21st century.

What I'm looking forward to this weekend

Andre 3000: New Blue Sun LIVE at Center Stage Theater. I love that it's a no phones allowed performance. I also love that my husband has never actually listened to New Blue I'm really looking forward to hearing what he thinks after the show. That should be a kick.

Boots doesn't believe in roadblocks.

Good advice for anyone who might need it..

"If you’re waiting for all of the roadblocks to be cleared before you begin, you might be waiting all your life. So stop waiting. Just do your best to put something into the world that wasn't there yesterday." – Maggie Smith, via her newsletter For Dear Life

Thank you for allowing me to visit your inbox each Friday with these tidbits. If you know someone who might enjoy this newsletter, please share it with them and encourage them to subscribe for free. Each week(ish), I'll be sharing an eclectic range of stories and so forth. Sometimes I'll throw in a little bit of writing advice, and answer whatever questions you may have. It's a work in progress, rooted in my passion for writing about history, people from all walks of life, and the various things that interest me. I hope you find these things interesting and maybe even helpful, too!

Paige Bowers

Paige Bowers is a journalist and the author of two biographies about bold, barrier-breaking women in history.