The folks at Readerville were talking about platforms today. According to the N.Y. Observer article I just sent you to, the term platform is all over publishing. Yet the article's author never actually defined it.
I need definitions!
To the best of my understanding (Ha!), a platform is something authors bring with them to the publishing table along with their books. It's something that will give their books a marketing edge. Does the author already have a large following for some reason or another? (Celebrity authors, for instance.) Does the author have something about her that will make the media want to cover her? (Brangelina's baby.)
A platform has nothing to do with the merits of the book. You can sell a bad book with a good platform. You can't necessarily sell a good book with a bad platform.
I'm not sure, but I think being really good looking is a platform. A good one.