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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I’m just a girl from Lockport, NY

I’m once again feeling like that girl who blushed. And I think it all comes down to heading into something new. It’s about not having the experience that I want to already have. It’s about taking risk. It’s about the fear of not being good enough to succeed. This is a familiar feeling. I'm just a girl from Lockport, NY--a town of 21,165 people 20 miles east of Niagara Falls--so who am I to do something big?

I still think about my high school guidance counselor who told my parents that I should not be able to go to college in Boston because "she will never fit it." She encouraged me to apply to community college and some local four-year schools. She encouraged small-town goals. Fortunately my parents didn't listen to that guidance counselor. I went to college in Boston, and not only did I fit in, I graduated with honors.

When I was first out of college, that fear about being small-town didn't go away. I felt small-town as I interviewed for my first journalism job. But I was hired at CNET as an editorial assistant and quickly promoted to business reporter. When I left the comforts of my first real job, I wondered if I was too small-town to help launch’s west coast bureau. I was more than good enough. I broke news stories and wrote compelling pieces that made my employer proud. When I was transitioning from print journalism, my fear was about having years of experience doing the wrong kind of journalism. But I was hired at Bay Area Backroads and I helped produce several segments about this amazing part of the planet I get to live in. After taking time off to be home with my babies, it was about that gaping hole in my resume. I started to blog. Then I pitched and landed a cover story for Bay Area Parent Magazine. I was hired to be the official mom blogger for Oxygen Media. The same fears appeared as I applied for graduate schools, but I was accepted into each of the MFA programs I applied for.

In the words of Stuart Smalley: “I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Or in the words of soon-to-be-famous-best-selling-author Suzanne Galante (you’ve probably heard of her): Each time that nagging fear of being too small-town to (insert desired goal here), I tried anyway. And I succeeded. Building a writer’s platform won’t be any different. Falling back on being from a small town is a crutch, a way to give myself an out. I need to stop doing that. It doesn't matter where I came from. What matters is where I'm going.

Plus, there are a handful of famous (and infamous) people who have also had modest beginnings from my hometown: including Joyce Carol Oats (best-selling author), Kim Alexis (supermodel), and more recently Chris Sacca (venture investor), whose parents’ law firm used to be just around the corner from my mom’s house.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting famous: Step 3

Okay, I get it. I need to get my words published in places that have nothing to do with this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Since I have a 90,000-word manuscript, I have copious amounts of great material to work with (Yes, it really is great). So, I've been packaging and polishing excerpts (They're great, too. This is no time for modesty!).

With those excerpts, I'm going to feed the literary world bits of my manuscript the way I might feed my boyfriend and his shocking sweet tooth bits of cake. When the excerpts get published, I'll be building my platform and my case for why the entire book should be published. Showing that I can get parts of it placed in magazines will prove to publishers that my book is something worth publishing before it even lands on their desks. The idea is that they, like my boyfriend, will want more.

Step 3: Submitted bits of my manuscript to two different literary magazines, while wearing platform shoes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Getting famous: Step 2

Step 2: In an effort to build my platform, I wore platform shoes today. I figured it couldn't hurt. I also thought about clicking my heels together three times and saying, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home." But I thought that would just be silly.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Getting famous: Step 1

The motivation: In order to get my not-yet-published-but-surely-a-bestselling-memoir published, I need to be well-known enough so that publishers feel confident that I have a built-in audience who will be anxious to get themselves a copy.

The plan: I’ve carefully devised a 100-step plan to build a platform, aka get famous. And when I say famous, I mean well-known enough so then when people around the country hear that I--Suzanne Galante--have published a book, they'll gladly part with $20 for an opportunity to read it, but not so famous that I can't go to Trader Joe's with unruly hair and fleece pants after dropping the kids at school. Think Jodi Picoult versus Kate Winslet.

How it works: Each day, I will share a new step to building my rock-solid platform.  

Step 1: Bought new lipstick today. I definitely needed the right shade staining my lips, so that I could pursue my job of getting famous. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The good, the bad, and the platform

The good news: I have three literary agents reading my manuscript right now! Oh, how difficult it will be to decide which agent to choose when they all want to represent me.

The bad news: I always thought the hard part of getting a book published would be writing the book. But that was just the beginning. We never talked about “platform” in graduate school. A writer’s platform is sort of like a little insurance policy for publishers. If I’m hugely successful writer who speaks at conferences and writes a regular column for some newspaper or magazine, then people are more likely to buy my book instead of a different book from an author they never heard of. Publishers want writers who have a built-in audience who will buy the book. I get it. Publishing books is a business, and publishers want to invest in books that are going to do well with as little investment as possible.

So what's my platform? It appears that there is a slight hole in my book proposal (Promise me you won't tell anyone, okay?). I need a rock-solid Marketing & Promotions section. I am full of ideas. But publishers could care less about all the things I plan on doing to promote my book. They want to know what I’ve done, and how I’ve built a brand around myself. While I’ve published more than 1,000 pieces of writing in my career—not including this blog—that stack of by-lines doesn’t provide me with a sturdy platform, as much as I’d like to think it does.

But fear not gentle reader. I just need to start writing new material so that I can send it out and win some awards. If I hadn’t been in graduate school writing the book, I could have been busy becoming famous. Getting famous and building a solid platform surely must be easier than writing a book.