Salinger Would Be Fucked
The deal with author platforms
I’ve decided to do a follow-up post about author platforms and the repeated advice for authors, being:
“A famous and often repeated piece of advice to writers is: The time to start working on your author platform is three years before your book is published.” Writes Joel Friedlander, the Book Designer.
I can’t help thinking about Salinger. Maybe he wouldn’t have isolated himself if social media was right there and popular. I like to think what his Facebook page might have looked like with him updating it daily. But I doubt he would have. I doubt he would have been any different.
Many authors have been rejected because they don’t have a strong enough author platform. Actually, more than many. And that’s because publishers are no longer looking for writers. They are looking for easy sales.
Are traditional publishers on to something or just getting lazy?
What is an author platform?
Right away, without research, I think it’s about selling yourself. But since writers are not whores, we’re going to look at this more closely. Because author platforms really can be a wonderful thing. The truth is, Author Platforms are not about selling your book or trying to push your book onto readers. It is more or less your presence and how you connect with your readers and future readers. And let’s face it. Your readers are more important than you. Author Platform= Dedication to your readers.
Author Platform? What exactly are we looking at here?
“No, an author platform is not a box to stand on, but it will help an author to rise above his peers and separate the experts and credible authors from the amateurs. An author platform is more like an enhanced resume that provides your credentials and helps publishers and the media take notice that you are a professional, you have experience, you are good at promoting yourself and promoting your book and topic of interest without being self-serving, and overall, you know what you are doing.” (Irene Watson, FreelanceWriting.com)
The Platform Tree:
The Heart and Centre Point= Your Website
Any kind of complimentary website to the centre point (websites dedicated to your novels, other writing, that sort of thing)
Blogs- write relevant articles, book reviews, interviews, or blog about your experience writing and getting your books published.
Social Media and Such: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, StumbleUpon, Goodreads, Tumblr, Library Thing, blogtalkradio.com, Bookish, rifflebooks.com, Instagram, BookLife, Google+, LinkedIn
Writing Sites: Figment, Wattpad, Book Country
Connections: Author Unions and other Associations, Off Line Writing Groups, Bookstore Staff, Attending Book Fairs, Festivals, Trade Shows, (making connections and friends with other authors, agents, editors, publishers, librarians, other bloggers). Get involved with the book world. Enter writing contests, volunteer at a local bookstore, library, or publishing house. Join a book club or writers work shop.
Respond to readers and make it easy for readers to contact you: make an email signature
It is possible to start connecting and creating a ‘platform’ before your book is published and the world considers you an ‘author.’ By getting involved early – making connections, starting a blog, uploading onto Wattpad, Fanfiction, and other writing sites that appeal to you, entering writing contests, or trying your hand at freelancing – you can begin to establish friends, readers, and an audience.
What to do about this author platform business?
Don’t be in a rush. Don’t try to do everything. Write first and platform later. Be professional. Research.
“Focus more on discoverability rather than selling. Your work is important, so help those who can benefit from it, find it.” (KIMBERLEY GRABAS, 71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book. http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/promote-and-market-your-book/)
“Search yourself. Do a Google search on yourself, your books, and your brand to see what other people are seeing when they do a similar search. Are you surprised (or embarrassed) by what you found?” (KIMBERLEY GRABAS, 101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams. http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/actions-to-build-writer-platform/)
I wonder about authors like Salinger, Harper Lee, and Emily Dickinson. Would they have been rejected because their author platform wasn’t large enough? Because they didn’t have a blog or a twitter account?
Author Cormac McCarthy said, “I don’t think it’s good for your head. When you spend a lot of time thinking about how to write a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it, you probably should be doing it.”
And then I wonder about myself and readers like me. Because we were all readers first. Because we are readers first and foremost. As a reader with favourite authors, I like that I can see their blog, facebook page, and/or twitter account. I like that I can follow them, and they can follow me back. I like to see what Neil Gaiman is up to.
But that’s as a book reader- not a book buyer. Personally, though I have read (and love) Neil Gaiman’s works, his blog, and check up on him on Twitter, I have never bought one of his books. I think this realization is quite relevant since publishers are suggesting that sales are depending upon an author’s platform, and thus can reject good work because of it.
“Check the stupid on this. Publishers only want authors who are so famous they can sell 40,000 copies of their own book directly to their own audience. But anyone who is so famous that they can sell 40,000 copies of their own book directly to their own audience needs a publisher like Willy Wonka needs a Whitman’s sampler. If I could sell my own book to my own audience, why would I give any publisher full rights, forever, to that book, ninety percent of whatever I made selling that book — and then give an agent fifteen percent of whatever was left over for me? Why? Why would I do that? Why would anyone?” (Huffington Post, Blog)
About the Author
Ellen Schoeman (pen name E. L. Schoeman) is the author of the award winning YA Historical Romance novel, Isabel. All in all I’m a YA writer. My second novel, Vienna, will be released in eBook November 2014. Apart from writing, I love to travel, ride horses, read too many books, and meet interesting people with interesting stories.
Interview with Wayne Clark, International Award Winning Author