More on Creating a Platform!
If you are having trouble getting published because of a lack of a national platform, consider some of the following options. As you examine these alternatives, try to think out of the box, to creatively convince agents, editors, and publishers to give you a shot.
Some of your options are:
Writing humorously. If you’re funny and can write witty, humorous books, you stand a good chance of being immunized from the platform requirement. Publishers are always looking for lively, fun-filled books and are usually open to publishing authors, even first-time authors, who don’t have a platform, but can make readers laugh.
Plugging into an established book series. If a series covers important subjects and has established a brand name, it’s built a following. Good examples are the Dummies, Chicken Soup, Everything, and Streetwise book series. With series, the brand and reputation are what sell and are more important than the writer’s platform. Publishers can plug good writers who do not have national platforms into these series, but the writers still need credentials, even if they don’t need big, impressive platforms.
Being recommended by a great agent. Publishing is a relationship and reputation business. Some literary agents have such great reputations and wonderful relationships with editors that the editors will read anything the agents recommend. When they truly believe in a writer, they may put their reputation and relationship on the line by recommending an unplatformed writer’s proposal. New Haven agent Don Gastwirth, of Don Gastwirth & Associates, will state in his cover letter, “This is really important to me and I think it should be important to you.” “However,” he cautions, “they will only read it once. So, it better be good because you are only as good as your last submission.”
Hiring book publicists. Authors who are willing to hire publicists who specialize in promoting books can neutralize some of the fallout from the fact that they don’t have national platforms. Publishers are familiar with publicists and how they can boost book sales. Any publicist you hire must be highly regarded by publishers and must, as part of the promotional campaign, build the author’s platform.
Turn to Smaller or Niche Publishers. Although the platform requirement has penetrated all levels of publishing, some smaller and niche publishers remain committed to putting out quality books on their subjects. Many of these publishers will take on authors who lack platforms.
Attend BookExpo America, the huge annual national book trade show, and see small houses and presses-thousands of them exist. Speak with them, look at their publications and their lists to see if any of them could be a good match for you. For many writers, it’s better to be an important, prized author with a small publisher than to be a small, neglected author at a big publishing house.
“When buyers are looking at books on the shelves, they’re going to buy the one that seems the most authoritative for the price they’re willing to pay,” book packager Leanne Chearney of Amaranth declares. “Although the platform requirement has filtered down to smaller publishers, it’s still more important to the large publishers; in fact, it’s basically required. The only books big publishers want are books that can be blockbusters, books that they think they can break out on the bestseller list. And they don’t think they can do that unless the author has a great platform. If you don’t need your book to be a blockbuster or if you don’t have a great platform, try sending your proposal to smaller publishers that don’t place such emphasis on the bestseller list,” Chearney advises.
Think Locally! Local and regional publishers can present great opportunities for writers. Often, the most important objective should be getting published, getting that initial notch in your belt, being able to say that you are a published author.
Small and regional presses can provide you with opportunities to display your writing talent. Look into the local and regional presses in your area, learn what kind of books they publish, and visit and speak with their staffs. Although they may not publish many books, they may be interested in publishing yours because you live locally. Many small presses are dedicated to writing and writers and are eager to help authors learn their trade and start their careers.
Join Forces with Professionals. When some editors receive excellent submissions from writers who have no platforms, they may try to pair them with people who have credentials and/or followings. For example, if an author who wrote a diet book doesn’t have a degree in nutrition, they may try to connect him or her with a doctor or a nutritionist. Unfortunately, egos, disputes regarding responsibilities, and other problems sometimes waylay these projects. Also, authors with platforms may resist because they don’t see the need for a collaborator or they may try to diminish the co-writer’s role.
Pairings seem to work best when authors are matched before the actual writing begins. Then they can plan the book together, divide responsibilities, and decide how they will work.