Apropos of my narrative about being categorized with the vampires and aliens at the most recent conference I went to, here’s a piece from today’s New Republic online newsletter in which a writer of memoirs, Stephen Akey, laments the apparent impossibility of selling anything that by comparison must be considered bletheringly unmarketable. What most resonates for me in this piece is what he tells us about “platform”: agents, gatekeepers to publication, asking “What type of platform do you have for speaking about the issues in your book?” “What is your access to the media or to major experts in your field?”
Because my current project is nonfiction, I’m particularly sensitive to the purported need for a “platform.” I’m fortunate in that I do have access to some “experts” in my field (and at times have passed for one myself), but I’ve been asked the same question about works of fiction. Yes, I’m sure it would be easier to sell a novel by Regis Philbin than one by one of us unknowns, at least (possibly, since Mr. Philbin might well be a stellar wordsmith) until it gets read.
But I’m not a carpenter by birth or trade, and labor as I will to build something akin to a sound platform, I’m imagining ending up with something more akin to a three-legged seesaw. I’m reminded of an admonition I found somewhere–wish I could tell you where: “Less tweeting, more writing.” Yet, I am rather enjoying picking up my HTML book and envisioning the Web site on which I will advertise and sell my otherwise doomed works of fiction. It will be vibrant, informative, interactive, irresistible. If only I could figure out how to add a background layer to my new logo in GIMP. . . .
Stop reading blogs and get back to work, you.