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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.

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