Exceptions to the rule.

So here’s a weird thing.

If you’re already published, or if you’re still trying, then you’ve more than likely brushed up against the concept of the “platform.” Traditional publishing houses love a good platform. It makes you easy (easier) to sell. It means your marketing gets a head start. And it doesn’t matter that you don’t know the difference between a verb and a blurb. Nope. Nuh uh. No Sir. If you can hit the golden trifecta of 1) being beautiful, 2) starring on a reality game show, and 3) getting your sex tape leaked on the internet, then dang it, sign this fat literary contract!

But before I go off on that bitter tangent (too late?), let me give you an example of where the rules of platforming seem to have gone awry.

Recently I met the father of one of my son’s friends. We got to chatting. He’d heard about my little book deal, and I found out he’d self published a couple of books himslef – one just recently. That’s pretty cool. I plan to read them – in fact he had a signing event and had I known that was on, I’d have gone down and supported the cause (because anyone who gets a book written and out deserves showing up for). Anyway, a few weeks later I had the chance to meet his lovely wife, and I discovered through her that her husband – agent-less, publisher-less and duke-ing it out in the self pub world (I know that sounds kinda harsh, but I’m cleverly setting it up for the next paragraph, so bear with me) – is probably the closest thing I know to an honest-to-goodness celebrity.  GP

You see, here’s a guy that has just an incredible set of credits to his name as a TV writer. (And there’s the pay off!)  I mean really. He’s worked in the US on shows like MAD TV, here in Canada on numerous staples like This Hour Has 22 Minutes and dozens of others. Hell, you might even call that, well, dang it, a platform – and a legitimate one where writing and writers are concerned. So why, I ask the literary Gods, hasn’t this man been snapped up by an agent? You’d think that with listings in IMDB, TV writer credits galore and the host of celebrities he’s written for, agents and publishers would be drooling.

I don’t get it.  This guy’s an accomplished writer, and one with a real platform; the world has gone off its kilter.

Somewhere, someone in literaryland is asleep at the wheel.

So today’s lesson is this, fellow scribes: I can confirm once again that I know absolutely nothing about how publishing really works.

If you’ve read this far, go check out his site – he’s hilarious, and while I haven’t read his books (yet), it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun. His name, by the way, is Gary Pearson.

Check him out.


One response to “Exceptions to the rule.

  • jeffo

    No one wants to hear me say this (again), but I’ll say it (again): for fiction writers, platform* is over-rated. Yes, if you’re already famous for something else, it certainly helps with name recognition. “Oh, hey, that TV guy wrote a book? Awesome, I’ll have to check it out.” For most of us who are not starting from a position of fame? Not so much.

    *Note that I’m using platform here to denote the much-ballyhooed social media stuff. As for why your friend hasn’t gotten an agent and trade publisher, I can’t say. I would expect his writing credentials at least get him a second look.

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman


A blog by Dan Newman

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