The Dreaded Platform (or lack thereof…)

Anyone who knows me has been recently victimized at some point by one of my sustained – and exceedingly annoying – woohoos.

There’s been a flurry of them lately, each punctuating a little step forward in the publishing of my book The Clearing.  It’s a significant accomplishment for me, and the various stages of the evolution of the deal (my agent telling me something promising was in the pipe… my agent calling and saying we had an honest-to-goodness offer… signing the actual contract…  beginning work with my new editor at the publisher) are all categorically woohoo-worthy.

But once all the regular woohoos are all out, the reality that books don’t sell themselves begins to set in.  And dang, it happens fast.  One minute you’re thrilled that someone wants to read the thing, and the next you’re starting to worry that once it’s published, no one else will…  And so you start thinking about the nuts and bolts of getting the word out.

Books, like everything these days, exist in a horribly competitive environment, and getting published just isn’t enough anymore.  The experts tell you you have to build things like Blogs (yup, that’s why this is here!), and engage in Facebook and Twitter campaigns, all of which feel somewhat less, hmm, honourable than the actual act of writing your book.  All of a sudden you have to connect with people and get them interested in what you’ve written.  It feels a little disingenuous; they don’t know me.  They don’t give a rats arse about what I wrote.  And why should they?  Cosying up to folks (albeit electronically) and creeping insidiously into their social networks just feels, well, creepy.

But the advice I’m receiving?  Get over it.  Your book might be good (or it might be complete drivel), but if no one save the publisher and their drinking mates read it, you’ll never know for sure.  So this blog is part of my grand experiment in platform development – and both of the people who have read it will be very, very excited.

3 responses to “The Dreaded Platform (or lack thereof…)

  • jeffo

    Congratulations, Dan! You are more than entitled to ‘woohoo’ to your heart’s content.

    I’m notoriously cranky when it comes to social media and ‘platform’. My own belief is that author-generated social media is not as important as people think, or want it to be. I may be wrong. But I think a lot of authors put far too much energy into all this stuff, and they’re hitting the wrong audience. My blog audience is largely composed of people like me: people who are struggling to make it as writers, who are still looking for agents or trying to get their first books published. If I’m good enough to get to the next level, those folks will help plug my book and help make a few sales, but they’ll also mostly be plugging writers in the same general group. Meeting these folks has been terrific and educational, and I’ve made some good friends this way, but the challenge is to break beyond that group into the wider readership.

    Dang, sorry for the rant, and I didn’t mean to rain on your parade. Congratulations to you, and good luck with the next step of the process!

    • Dan Newman

      Jeff – I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment. I believe it’s those networks that already exist (and have existed) “for real” whether they are virtual, face to face or otherwise, that will do the bulk of the promotional work. That said, I’m too much of a chicken to completely disregard the advice I’m getting, so I’ll make at least some effort to follow the SM trail. (Read: sellout!)

      Your blog and its following are a real education for me, so thanks for that… I’m an absolute newby in this part of the whole writing life (the on-line blog/Social Media part), but have been plodding away at novels for well over a decade. Getting to the point where I am now (with a book in the offing) is all kinds of fun, and the realization of a dream that I have held for years. I truly love the writing part of trying to become a real writer (and I’m still not sure when I can afford myself that handle for real), but the mechanics of the “platform build” are something that I’ll just have to learn to get along with – whatever they may be.

      In any case, thanks a ton for the feedback.

      • jeffo

        No problem, Dan, I’m glad I can help in some small way. I suppose one thing you can do to help with the dreaded platform building is take a look at a variety of other authors and see what they do and how they handle it, and also think about what you, as a reader, look for if and when you visit an author’s web page/blog/etc. And maybe ask your non-writer friends and family, too.

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman


A blog by Dan Newman

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