One of the blogs I follow is the Guide to Literary Agents. Looking at it today, I read Chuck Sambuchino's entry which asks the question (and answers it): "What is an Author's Platform?" It's something I was hoping my own blogs here would help me build for myself, but I still have a way to go to even get started with a "web presence", which is one plank of the platform. Chuck (as he identifies himself) gives credit to a book he's reading: Get Known Before the Book Deal, by Christina Katz.
Chuck answers the questions: "What is it?" (author's platform, that is) and "Why is it important?" The answer to the first question is: A platform is all of the ways that you are visible and appealing to your future and potential or actual readership. It is comprised of a web presence, any public speaking and teaching you do, the media contacts you have and your publications (especially articles). It is any means you make your name/book known to a viable readership. Chris challenges us to answer "3 key questions": "Who are you known as in the world as a writer now? How do others see you now? Who would you like to be known as in one year?" He warns us not to exaggerate or be unrealistic--especially in setting a goal for the one year frame in question #3.
I find these questions difficult, because I don't know how others see me. How am I known in the world? I'm not. How do others see me? I'd have to ask--and the trouble with that is that you never know if your friends are trying to be nice or trying to be helpful! And asking friends puts them on the spot. Asking relatives is more or less useless, unless there are other writers in the family. As for #3, "who would I like to be...in 1 year?" --That calls for another New Year's Resolution. The most important thing to remember for this is, to be realistic.