Janet
Janet asked Anne Lamott:

I enjoyed your book "Bird by Bird" and found the advice to write about just one bird at a time, very helpful. It was a new idea for me, and very good advice. In today's writing environment, do you have advice for unknown authors to capture the interest of an agent? Building a platform before publishing a book is difficult, yet everyone seems to want a platform before they will even talk to a writer wanna be.

Anne Lamott Thank you. The modern reality is, in one very important realm, the same way it's always been: you have to write a terrific book that people will want to read, because you have labored over it to get it just right. You have poured your heart, soul and intelligence into it, for a long time. You have addressed important aspects of our lives--love, family, meaning,betrayal, aging, coming through hardship--whatever. And you have told us your version, in the truest, most reliable voice you can muster, so that we want to spend a week with you, every night after dinner or before bed. If you display a wonderful sense of humor, so much the better.
I've never actually heard the word "platform" in this context, so there are better people to ask, ie, people who know what the word means.
But first--write the best, most amazing book you can, the wisest, most honest, most human book you have inside: we are starving to death for this ina culture that mostly traffics in appearance and surface. Let a couple of friends read it and give you their opinion. Write the book one more. We used to call this putting in through the typewriter one more time." I'm talking about RE-TYPING it, so you can get to know it at the most intimate level--not gussying it up on the computer.
Then find someone who critiques and edits professionally--have garage sales etc to raise 1500 dollars. Sell the treadmill. Someone good will read it for $1500. If you think his or her comments are good, make the necessary changes.
Keep making the book better. Cut it by 1/4. (Sight unseen, I bet it is too long. Takes out half the details, descriptions, and lies.)
Have more garage sales. Hire a good editor to mark it up. Make the changes. Then send it out. I think if it is unique, interesting, well written, and ABOUT something, you'll find an agent.

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