What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

spoke too soon; self-publishing 2: the platform

Looks like November's going to be another month of indexes. How long, o lord, how long?


"Platform" is a hot word in publishing these days. If you're trying to go the traditional royalty publishing route -- that is, where someone actually pays you to publish your book, up front and then with mailbox money (royalties) -- the publisher will want to know what your platform is. This is code for "How many books are you going to sell just because of who you are?"

Tom Clancy
Shaquille O'Neal
Pat Robertson
Sarah Palin
Tom Wolfe
Zig Ziglar
Alan Keyes

have platforms, of varying sizes.

Bob Land

has no platform whatsoever.

So who's going to get the book deal?

Royalty publishers are not going to spend a dime marketing your book if you're not bringing a crowd with you. It's like going for a loan. They'll give you one if you don't need it. Or that's how it used to be anyway.

And that's one of the hidden secrets of royalty publishing. It's the author's responsibility to sell the book. As it is with self-publishing.

I worked for years with an author on an essentially unpublishable volume. Why it was unpublishable is of no concern. But I told the author that if indeed some publisher picked it up, they would ask the author to do radio interviews, festivals, book signings, etc., to market the book. The author's response? "I wouldn't do any of that." Well, suit yourself, because that's what it takes, unless you have your own gift shop that tour buses bring people to on a daily basis. And even that's no guarantee.

Shameless promotion is the key to selling just about anything, especially in the times to come. If you want people to part with their money, you'd better give them a good reason for doing so. This blog is a form of shameless promotion, in case you hadn't noticed.

Great story I heard from a self-publishing author who is very persistent at being at festivals every weekend selling his books (and there are a lot of festivals in this part of the country). He said that people love meeting the author and leaving with a signed book. Love it. They'll buy the book even if they don't care what's inside of it or how good it may or may not be.

He was working a festival and a bus full of Japanese tourists let out right in front of the author signing table. They couldn't get enough of him. He said each person bought three or four books, and he happily signed them all. Most probably couldn't even read the language, but here was the author and the books. Local color and all that. So, he sold about 100 to 150 books at the full cover price of probably in the $15 range. Do the math. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Compare that with 2-8 percent of the wholesale price of the books you're going to sell in a bookstore if you can manage to publish with a royalty press, and presuming they can even place your book in a bookstore, the shelf space at which is very expensive real estate.

So, if you don't have a platform, you'd better have a yen, so to speak, for creating one, because writing the book might be the easy part of the equation. But once you've written and sold enough of that first one, you are building your platform. And if you build enough of one, and you want the prestige that comes with having a recognizable imprint on the spine of your book, you can go to a royalty publisher and say, "Lookee here. I've sold three thousand of these sitting in a folding chair watching the leaves change. You want a piece of that?"

And don't double-space after periods.


moi said...

Hell, I'll shamelessly self promote myself in the Antarctic, wearing UGGS, if that's what it takes to build the kind of platform that eventually allows me to hire a pool boy.

moi said...

P.S.: "Don't Double Space After Periods"

Why, oh why, doesn't the entire world know this?