I believe that this is the best time to be a writer because we’re seeing unprecedented opportunity for publication. With the tools available today, the question is no longer whether or not you will get published, but how you will get published. Not even a decade ago, that concept would have blown minds and perhaps elicited cries of “Foul!” Now it is the norm. More and more authors are realizing their dreams and making their voices heard in a worldwide forum. But there’s another edge to that sword. Whether or not these people are being heard is a different matter, and the more books we have being published, the harder it is for the reader to find the book that is best fit for them. This in turn creates a directive for the author. You need a way to stand out. You need a way to cut through all the noise.
Agents know this, and so do publishers. In an industry like this where the margins are typically low and acquiring editors (as well as some agents) are regularly reviewed to ensure that the profits they bring in eclipse the losses they incur, everyone is looking for as sure of a bet as possible. And that’s exactly what manuscript acquisition is: an educated guess, a calculated gamble on the salability of art.
Yes, they want well-written work, but they also want talent that comes with a significant amount of built-in marketing muscle. The only way they can keep publishing books is if they keep selling books, and authors who are able to actively stimulate sales will receive more attention than those who simply write.
This is something we work on with our clients. We use elements of platform along with new technologies and untapped methods to help them find and actually reach their audience. We help them strategize and grow their readership in a way that is most effective for their career focus and level. Every approach is customized, more hours are put in, and better results happen once the books hit shelves. It’s a wonderful way to do business, and it’s a big reason why we started the agency. We want clients who are open to this approach, and we absolutely love those who already have a head start by the time they query us.
Some of these concepts are familiar. If you’re writing nonfiction, you’ve probably attended a conference or read agent blogs that stress the importance of platform before publication. But what if you’re writing a novel? Do you need platform to sell fiction? Technically you don’t, the same way you don’t need an agent to get published. But if you want to get published well in the commercial market, you should probably seek out an agent. Likewise, if you want to be a successful novelist (or nonfiction writer, for that matter) with a shot at being a career author, I’d advise you to start building a platform.
On Thursday, October 10th, I’ll be teaching a webinar for Writer’s Digest on the subject. Platform: What It Is, How to Get It, and How to Show an Agent You Have It will demystify platform, show you how to obtain it, and share those important “extra” details and tricks that can help sway an agent’s mind. Attendees will receive a critique of their query and first 500 words as well as a free copy of the e-book I’m writing on assembling a convincing marketing proposal. This is going to be a good one. Hope to see you there.