And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, We Introduce…The Platform!

With this blog post, I am officially making the move I have needed to make for some time now. I am moving from my old domain at blogger.com and coming over to WordPress. The reason for this move has nothing to do with the service at blogger.com. Things always worked pretty well there, except for people finding it impossible to sign up to follow it.

As of this posting, you can now sign up as a follower, if you’d like. It would help me. I post an average of three times a month, and I promise not to be obnoxious. Most of my posts aren’t meant to be coercive, so much as questioning and a little quixotic (read backwards).

This move to WordPress constitutes the subject of this first blog. It is my question for the day (the year, the decade). That is, I am a writer—I write, have published for twenty years in various small journals and magazines, and I have written a textbook. But none of that matters. I have been told under no uncertain terms that I need a platform. I need to have evidence of a web-presence, of an ability to reach an audience.

The Platform

This is crass. But it is now common knowledge for anyone wishing to publish a book. There are some writer conferences I’ve attended where most of the breakout sessions concerned not good writing but building a buzz or a platform. And after those conferences, half the writers I met at it showed up in my email in-box with requests to follow this or that new web-thing they were doing.

I’m old fashioned. My use of “web-thing” above betrays this. So does my website, which is not fully functional and which, until now, was not connected to my blog. Quixotically, I’ve been focusing on writing. For the last four months during the summer I spent most of my time rewriting my novel. As of late August, I had finished a fifth draft. I think it is starting to work now. I have a novel that I think others would be interested in.

But then there is this other question. Do I have a platform? Quite honestly, working on the novel took up a great deal of my time I should have spent doing the equivalent of running for a political office.

 

The CW

This is just the way it is. It is simply not a matter of either/or anymore—write a good book OR build a platform. Conventional wisdom says that I need to do both. This is what agents, who help writers connect with publishers, are saying. There needs to be 1) good writing, 2) a marketing plan, and 3) a platform.

Some agents act as though #1 is sufficient, but when it really comes down to accepting a manuscript or an author to represent, the agents I’ve talked with at least will admit that without a platform—a way of reaching masses of people—a good book by itself won’t be enough for them.

So it helps to have played in the NFL and suffered numerous concussions. Or to have run for office, it turns out.

As I’ve said, I’m old fashioned and think that a good book is enough. I’ve found that I don’t buy books because I see them listed on Facebook or Amazon or someone’s email list I’m on. I buy books usually because someone I know and respect has recommended it. That is, I am influenced by the old technology of “word-of-mouth.”

But I’m not going to change the world with this stance. So it seems that this other way, the way of the web, is the path to take.

I know many of you have stories and more information you could share about this. I’d value your comments and feedback.

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