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Want To Succeed At Writing? You Need A Platform!

Nov 7, 2007
When I finished my book, "The Plain Truth about Living in Mexico," I sent queries to a number of publishers. On a lark, I queried McGraw-Hill. To my utter shock and awe, they wanted to look at the completed manuscript. The editor who read the manuscript wrote back and said that he wanted to take it to the final committee for possible publication. This meant that the book passed all the requirements except the final step in which it is determined, in a kind of crystal-ball reckoning, if it will be something that will make them money--the bottom line.

Unfortunately, it did not pass that final step.

The main reason was the financial department thought the subject (expatriation to Mexico) occupied such a small niche that it would not make them money. They told me another reason they rejected the manuscript was that I had no platform.

In non-fiction (and, to an extent fiction), publishers take a hard look at who you are. They want to know why someone would want to buy your book from them. If you've written a book on weight loss, the publisher is going to look at what your qualifications are a selling point for your book. If you are a doctor with a very large practice, the publisher might reason that your education is a selling point. In addition, you have this platform, the medical practice, from which you can promote your book. Though the patients may only number in the hundreds in that doctor's practice, the publisher might gamble that those patients would spread the news about the book to their friends. (Word-of mouth-promotion.)

Another example is the most beloved person (that's a joke) in the entire world, Ann Coulter. This woman has a following she gathered from her TV platform. All those appearances she has made on television earned her a following that will buy all her books no matter what the woman says. Although I am a conservative, let me say this: She pushes it too far most of the time. However, she is a best-selling author and all of her books make the top of the list. She carefully and shrewdly built her platform from which she now has this following who buy her books.

To McGraw-Hill, I was a nobody. No one had heard of me and I had no following.

The book, by the way, got published and is still paying my $400.00 a month rent payment.

Since the year 2005, I have been busy. I've been writing hundreds and hundreds of articles, mostly for free. I have worked to build a following from the platform of the Internet (and a few print venues). I have engaged in article marketing to promote my books.

I have used three directories, Associated Content being one, to post my articles. I have "parked" my articles online and, through the magic of search engines as well as online publishers wanting free content, I have gathered a following. From this platform of writing free articles online, I have had three experiences that demonstrate my point.

First: A travel guidebook company contacted me and asked me to write for a book they were putting out. They asked for a contribution for the book. I wrote an article for the book, which is now on the market. It is a paying gig and provides excellent exposure for my writing.

Second: A couple of journalists who are starting a print and online magazine contacted me to become a regular contributor for their new publication. They found me online, read my work, and want me. This is more exposure and an additional platform from which to extend my book promotion reach.

Third: I just got word that an advance-paying publisher is offering me a contract for my next book. What looked attractive to this publisher was the writing itself AND the fact that I have a following. Now, with the magazine startup, I will have additional exposure to a readership of about 100,000 people. The magazine is related to the niche in which I write.

This is what publishers are looking for when you query them for possible publication of a book idea. How will you be able to sell this book, what will you do to promote it relentlessly, and who knows who you are? This is the business side of the so-called creative writing gig.

You have to find a way to gather a following of people whom you can reach to tell them, "Hey, I have a new book coming out. Will you please buy a copies for yourself and all your friends?"

So, all those articles you are not getting any upfront payments for in Associated Content?

Get them online anyway. Write the best you can. Try your hardest to promote them.

Associated Content is the platform from which you can put together your following. I did it!

The professionals are out there cruising the net looking for their next talent.
About the Author
Doug Bower is the author of "A Walk Through Mexico's Crown Jewel: A Guanajuato Travelogue .
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