Friday, May 13, 2011

If You Build It--You Might Get Published!

Go back with me now, to the days of yesteryear, when books were published because they had interesting ideas in them, and “literary” wasn’t a four-letter-word, and publishers actually promoted their books and their authors. “Did such a golden time ever exist?” you ask? Yes, it did. But, it is gone forever. “Oh!” You reply in shocked disappointment. “Replaced by what?”

The age of visual media killed that “golden time” deader than Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage (never forget the dangers of having secret families!). The word on the page is almost secondary now to other factors. Not only are an author’s age and looks key variables in the sales equation but, increasingly, publishers are now looking for something more: writers who will not only churn out pot boilers, but who also come prepared to be active players in the sales cycle. We’re talking about: writers with a “platform.”

Platform” is the new jargon, buzzword, and lingua franca, whatever you want to call it, of the publishing world. Having a platform is, in fact, often the determining factor in whether a book and author get a publishing deal! No longer is it enough to turn a nice phrase or have something interesting to say.

Now you need:
  • An author website with full e-commerce capability, subscriber login, SEO (search engine optimization) design, and fully interactive, flash-enabled functionality.
  • An author blog (minimal hits per day in the hundreds).
  • Reciprocal links to other blogs who reference author’s blog.
  • Link exchanges with other websites to cross-advertise website/blog
  • An author newsletter (preferably with 3 thousand or more subscribers).
  • Web statistics proving hits, subscribers base, and link exchanges and reach/frequency of author’s over all web presence.
  • Social networking tie-ins (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace)
  • Podcast library of quick tips/advice w/ subscription base (available on iTunes, etc.)
  • Video/book trailers
  • Free list building products (video clips of advice, sample chapters, etc.)
  • Guest blogging on related sites
  • PPC advertising
  • Article marketing
  • Lecture/keynote speaking at writer’s conferences, publishing industry panels, and other high-profile writing venues

All these new goodies are in addition to the traditional promotional elements used by publishers and publicists: radio spots, readings, print ads, reviews, etc. But, more and more, before any of the traditional promo is considered, authors are expected to have their platform already in place and humming, and thousands of moon-eyed admirers flocking to their various electronic feeding stations. “We are Borg—resistance is futile.” It may sound like I’m lamenting the loss of innocence of some bygone age of author-centric, when-book-was-king publishing. Not really. Even before the Internet age publishing was cutthroat and tough-as-nails, and many an author was chewed up in the machinery of the book-promo sales cycle. The ironic thing is that the new-media age has actually opened up real possibilities for authors to become more independent and more powerful in the sales and promotion of their work.

Many authors are deciding to just bypass the traditional publishing companies and brand themselves on the Internet through self-publishing options like iUniverse or CreateSpace, or simply through setting up their own boutique publishing companies.
Hey, if we have to go to all the time and expense of platforming ourselves, why not just take the whole publishing enchilada in our own hands and live and die by our own bad selves? Rather than a bane, I think platforming may be a boon to writers. And if you haven’t already figured it out—you’re reading part of my own platform right now. And yes—you will be assimilated!


Clea Simon said...

you must have seen the Book 2.0 video, yes? Of course, I can't remember whose book it was spuriously promoting, but very funny - if you haven't let me know and I'll find the link. Most telling moment: "When I first wanted to be a writer it was so I could make a mini movie and get it up on Youtube."

Clea Simon said...

Sorry - Book Launch 2.0