Tag s | Platform

Mr. Ed Is a Backseat Driver

There are few things more frustrating to aspiring authors than the requirement they have a significant national following and robust “author platform” before their book is considered by an agent or publisher. After all, isn’t the book supposed to help create that?

It is like needing extensive work experience to get a job, but you need to get a job to get experience. Or you need to be an expert pilot before we let you into flight school.

The first thing to remember is that publishing has always been this way. It has always favored the well-connected and already-famous to get the first consideration as new authors.

Years ago, we used estimated number of radio listeners, TV viewers, circulation of a magazine or newsletter, or for pastors, size of church membership or ministry to determine the extent of author notoriety. These days, because social media involvement is relatively free of cost and available to anyone with a keyboard, agents and publishers use it as a quick and easy test to determine the extent of author-fame.

Here is what all this means for you:

If you really want to write and have a story burning inside you, order a website URL for your name, establish a social media presence and get to work on blogging and building your platform. The reason to begin with platform is that the cart is officially before the horse.

As proof, this press release just came to my attention: (with tongue firmly inside my cheek)

At a press conference this morning in Muscatine, Iowa, the president of the association representing all towed and pulled carriages, wagons and carts announced that the association needed to adjust to the new reality of the social media world of the 21st Century.

In a stunning reversal of their long-standing policy requiring that all carriages, wagons and carts be pulled by horses, Wilbur “Mr. Ed” Schnookwalder, president of the International Association of Pulled Things (IAPT) stated in a press release, “We finally had to admit that our friends in publishing have redefined the world to such an extent that we needed to follow suit. After much deliberation, we have determined that the cart is officially before the horse.”

So, there you have it. Proof is in the fake press release.

Publishers need authors to carry the lion’s share of the marketing and promotional load for their books, so you need to be armed and ready to take on that responsibility at the outset. There are some differences between fiction and non-fiction in the manner you create your author platform, but the basics are the same.

So again, if you really want to write and have a story burning inside you, order a website URL, establish a social media presence and get to work on blogging and building your platform. Spend as much time on your platform as you do writing your book. In fact, maybe spend all your time initially on the platform. Just like you would get training to write, development of the author platform is preparation for the book.

Book publishing is still risky business, be it traditional or indie, but the common thread to success in either is gathering together a group of people who want to buy your book before you publish it.

We can all agree that it seems entirely counter intuitive, but remember, the cart is officially and forever before the horse.

Death, taxes and author platforms…they aren’t going anywhere.


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It’s Not Who You Know

From the third season of the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, this classic interchange: Car Rental Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.  Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation? Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars. Jerry: But …

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Myths of The Author Platform

There are three myths about “Author Platform” that I want to address today.  Since I started my publishing career in marketing, I’ve seen the issue from a number of different angles and hopefully today’s post will be helpful. Myth #1 Author platform is a new issue in the last few …

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Two Mistakes Made in Some Recent Book Proposals

by Steve Laube

Putting together a great book proposal takes a lot of work. I suggest writers look at them as if they were a job application, and they are. You are trying to get someone to pay you to write your book via a stellar “job application” or book proposal.

But every once in a while we get something that is not going to work, for obvious reason. Here are two mistakes:

1. Divine Attribution. Also known as the claim, “God told me to write this.” Recently we received a proposal which claimed, “I literally hear from GOD,JESUS, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.” (Capitalization and punctuation left intact.) One of the most widely read posts from our blog is titled “God Gave Me This Blog Post.” Please read the post and please avoid this mistake in the future.

I also see authors write or hear authors say, “I know you don’t like it when we say it, but I really felt inspired by God while writing this.” Trust me, I understand. In fact I believe you and don’t deny the validity of inspiration. But try not to make it sound like your book idea or sample writing is extra special because of it.

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G is for Great

by Steve Laube

“There are a lot of good manuscripts out there. What we want are those which are great.” I’ve said this may times but thought I should elaborate. Please note the following applies mostly to non-fiction projects.

When it comes to the non-fiction books that attract the major publishers I believe the author must have at least two of three “great” things:

Great Concept
Great Writing
Great Platform

Let’s look at the various combinations to see how this plays out.

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Blogging Success

Last week, I had a lot of fun reading the responses to my post on men versus women getting ready for travel. I appreciate my husband’s sense of humor in not minding that I posted it, and in reality, I give him credit for taking care of our little family all the time.

In response to that post, I received a private email asking how we built our successful blog. Obviously, ours is only one of many popular blogs written by agents, but this is a great question so I’ll share a few tips I have learned from writing for this blog, reading other blogs, and reading articles about blogs.

1.) Focus. What is your blog about? As readers know, ours is about publishing and we rarely veer off topic. I follow other blogs on publishing, of course, along with theology, Christian living, uncluttering, organization, and other topics of interest to me. I know that each post will relate to the promised topic. Does that mean each and every article is of intense interest, helpfulness, and importance to my life? No. But I appreciate that each blog stays on topic.

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News You Can Use – June 25, 2013

Elevator Pitches: If You Build it, They Will Come. – Excellent post from Susan Spann! Do the exercise on your own pitch.

Christian Stores See 8.5% Overall Gain in 2012 – Looks like the growth came from non-book items. That is good news in that it means traffic in the stores has increased and reversed recent trends.

101 Things to Do to Build Your Writing Platform –  My advice? Don’t try all of them at once, your blood pressure can’t handle it. But pick ten and see what you can do with them by the end of Summer.

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

“Writing and the Brain” infographic. – You tell me. Does this help you understand how you think as a writer?

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News You Can Use – June 4, 2013

Special Days in June to Market You Book – Edie Melson does it again! Did you know this week is “Fishing Week”?

Publishers Should Invest In Authors, Not Just In Books – from Forbes magazine online. What do you think of what she is saying?

The Seven Deadly Myths of Digital Publishing – I found myself nodding in agreement while reading this article by Bill McCoy the executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Are You Ready to Contact an Agent? Take This Short Quiz and Find Out – A clever way to ask yourself some key questions in your pursuit.

 – This is an ongoing debate within the publishing community. What is the value of a book? $2.99? $5.99? $0.00? $9.99? The implication have enormous economic consequences.
Note how one self-published author uses Pulsing and Pacing in her ebook pricing strategy.

21 Platform Building Insights from Authors and Experts Who Excel at It – Wow.Far too much good advice to absorb in one sitting!

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Build it Before They Come

If you want to be a published writer, realize that someone will look for you on the web. Agents will Google your name. I guarantee that editors and marketing folks will visit your web site to find out more about you.

Thus your web site needs to be both professional and effective. It is a bit like putting on your “Sunday Best” before going to an interview. That first impression is critical.

Allow me to share unscientific, subjective thoughts regarding a few elements I especially enjoy as an agent learning about writers through their web sites:

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