Not gonna lie, it’s been a hard week in the writing life. In last week’s post about pitching, I mentioned my pitch to The Washington Post for an essay all about the Bengals and their small, town, rural, Midwestern fandom. I hadn’t heard anything back last Wednesday, but then I did! Hurray! Writing victory! An editor who wanted to publish the piece, but…(wait for it)…only if the Bengals won.
So, there I was, literally in the middle of the Super Bowl, while the Bengals had a 4-point lead, e-mailing with The Washington Post to give them permission to go ahead with the piece. You know how that story ends. The Bengals lost. Writing tragedy! Boo!
Also this week, I finished a revision of the young adult novel I started writing in the first year of the pandemic (yes, that’s how slow writing/publishing is). The revision was at the request of an agent, so this was exciting! The agent liked it enough to ask for a revision! Hurray! Writing victory!
I sent them the revised version and…yep, they did not like it. No offer of representation. No step forward toward getting it published. Writing tragedy! Boo!
This is what it’s like to be a writer. Writing victory! Writing tragedy! Repeat, repeat, repeat, sometimes without the victory in between. You do your best to laugh, but sometimes, you have to cry.
I tell you all this not so you’ll feel sorry for me (though, go ahead if you want to, especially if that pity comes with gifts of chocolate, potato chips or gin). I tell you this to explain why I’m always annoyingly asking you to share the newsletter, subscribe to the newsletter, like the newsletter, pre-order books, mark them as to-read on Goodreads, talk about them on social media, etc., etc.. Those requests, my friends, are all about platform.
Platform is the publishing word for the reach you already have, the built-in audience you bring to the table as an author. Platform is why politicians and celebrities get book deals. People already know Tom Hanks or Steve Martin, which makes them more likely to buy their books.
Platform matters more or less depending on the type of book you’re trying to sell—more for nonfiction, less (supposedly) for fiction. But it’s always a plus, a key that can get you in the door. If your platform is impressive enough, people come to you, asking for a book. Can you imagine? I cannot.
I wish none of this were true. I don’t really want to be a social media marketer. I want to write books. But this is how it is. Publishing a book is a risky venture. The more certain publishers are of being able to sell the book to a ready-made audience, the more it makes sense for their bottom line.
Writing this newsletter is one tiny corner of the publishing world I can control. I sit down, I write the words, they go out to you. No agents or editors. Nothing tied to sports victory or losses. This newsletter is a little writing victory I get every week and for that I’m grateful.
But it’s hard sometimes and if you cannot bring me chocolate or potato chips or gin, at least check out this list of free things you can do to help a writer out. Forget being my Valentine. I’d much rather you be my platform.
Share You Think Too Much
That does add an extra sting to the loss. Sorry Robyn.