The first draft of my nonfiction history of Topic is complete and there is an interest in Topic from a few literary agents. But most agents say that a platform is a must, and I don't have one.
While I know the Topic well, I don't have a blog for it and don't do public speaking about it. Just last week a literary agent told that she is really like to represent it but without a platform she can't submit it to editors.
So in my new queries I write something like this: My current platform is Twitter and Facebook. With my twitter account I chat about Topic, while mentioning that I write a book about it. On Facebook I make comments on relevant pages for Topic, that include references from my book. Every time a few people like it. Once my book is on its way to publication, I will increase significantly my activity on Twitter and Facebook talking about Topic with references to my book. I don't plan to create a blog and bring people to it. (I am not sure that Twitter and Facebook are an effective platform to market a book but I need to show that I have some platform ).
What problems do you see in writing the above in my queries. Thanks.
Well, there aren't any problems with writing that in your query. It doesn't solve the problem though. You don't have any platform, and platform is essential for most non-fiction.
Platform is two fold. Platform is the answer to "how do people know about you NOW?" and "why are you the person to write this book?"
Let's look at both answers.
How people know about you now is a way for editors to measure how much interest there will be in your book. If people don't know you, why would they buy your book? Some topics come with platform built in: if you write about your stint as a hair and makeup consultant for the NY Yankees, the Yankees are known, and so your topic has some built in platform.
More abstract topics like ideas and analysis of history, not so much.
The other question, Why are you the person to write this book, covers credentials and expertise rather than visibility. If you're the doctor who has documented success in achieving thinner thighs in thirty days, well, people will be interested, even if you practice in Either, Oregon.
If you're talking about an abstract topic like an idea or an analysis of history or historical event, you need to come equipped with some serious academic credentials starting with a Ph.D and a fistful of research on the topic.
The only exception to this is memoir. If you're writing your memoir, you are by default the expert. Thus someone wanting to write about their time in an Irish convent doesn't need a degree in theology or Irish history. They just need a compelling thesis statement and a good story.
Essentially platform is: who are you and why should anyone pay attention to you. The answer is NOT "cause the topic is interesting."
Publishers will be asking someone to part with $27.99 for a hardcover, so they are VERY motivated to make sure the answer to the question is "cause this author is a recognized expert, and she's got some interesting ideas, and she's not a whack job who thinks the sun rotates around the earth."
But, you need this only if you intend to submit your work to a publisher.
If you feel strongly about your topic, and you can't get over this hurdle, there are ways now to publish your work yourself and do exactly what you described: talk about your book on blogs and social media.
A book with a major publisher requires a more robust marketing plan however. Those marketing plans often hinge on reviews in trade journals. Trade journals pay close attention to who is writing the book. Reviewers have to winnow down the books they receive for review by 100:1 and platform is one of the ways they do it. They do that because a book without platform from author or topic isn't as attractive to readers/buyers as a one with platform.
Without trade reviews, it's hard to sell to libraries, and there's not much buzz to spin to get the attention of other review sites.
There's a reason agents tell you that you need platform: it's almost impossible to sell non-fiction without it.