Wednesday, May 31, 2006

If Gibberish is my 'platform' I'm in BIG trouble

Via Bill Crider, an interesting article on the vogue marketing phenomenon sweeping publishing known as "The Platform":
“In almost any conversation around any book, the thing publishers are trying to suss out, in addition to content, is platform,” said Todd Shuster of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agency. “The first thing that matters is the content, but after that—the conventional wisdom is that word of mouth will make it successful in the marketplace. Competing as No. 1 publicity marketing criterion for publishers these days are platform and prior sales.”

An author’s disappointing prior sales can be a book deal’s undoing. The sense with a platform, however, is that at least the author has some built-in readership—a “community” to which he or she can peddle the book (writ large: Oprah Winfrey, platform incarnate; writ small: bloggers selling novels). Then, at least, “you don’t have to work so hard,” said one publishing executive who requested anonymity. “That’s the problem in publishing these days—trying to get anybody to pay attention. If you’ve got a platform, at least those people will pay attention.”

I've always known I'd have to play the role of publicity whore to have any hope of a successful writing career, and I got to test the waters with my Voices of Vision signings. I always introduced myself to the bookstore personnel as "your dancing monkey for the evening." Steady publicity, appearances and blogging were going to be the thing that gave me an edge in the marketplace, but now it looks as if I'll need those in order to merely tread water.

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