A blog post about platform here elicited some questions. Here's one from Loretta Ross (remember her name; you're going to know her as an amazing writer one of these days.)
How about this one, Janet? I have a friend who, as a teenager in the mid fifties and early sixties, worked as a batboy (and scoreboard operator and all-around-gopher) for the New York Yankees. He still has tons of memorabilia and all kinds of great stories about things that happened on and off field. Assuming that I can get him to stop *talking* about writing a book about it and get him to actually sit down and *write* the damn thing, how much of a platform would he need before pitching something like that?
(Seriously, sometimes I just want to duct tape him to a chair and say, "look, just tell ME your stories and I'LL write it for you!")
He doesn't need much platform--the Yankees have platform enough for everyone.
But, what he needs is a book. "Great stories" are what grandpa tells at the dinner table. When everyone tells him he should write a book, sometimes he does, queries me, and can't understand why I don't fall all over myself to sign him right up.
My guess is hanging out with Yankees was amazing, and meeting Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Joe DiMaggio was amazing, and yoda yoda yoda all amazing that was. It's not new. It's fun to hear about Gramps being there, but if he's not MY Gramps, I'm less inclined to care.
What does make me care is if:
1. It reveals something previously unknown and hopefully horrifying: like the pitching lineup sacrificed goats in the locker room, or traded wives during the playoffs or something that will get people hot under the collar and reaching for their rolodex to call their lawyers.
2. The stories are attached to a motivational how-to book of some sort: Everything I know about agenting, I learned as a bat boy for the Yankees, etc.
This applies to most memoirs these days. I get a lot of queries from folks who have had some very interesting things happen to them, and understandably want to tell their story to an audience. That's all well and good but the question I have to ask is "who wants to listen to this and why." The answer they give is largely why they want to tell the story, not why anyone would want to hear it. That's the trick with memoir.
I want to read something that will tell me something I didn't know, or teach me something I want to learn. Tell me that and you've got a book. Tell me they're great stories and I like to read great stories and you're missing the pitch.