Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: publication

Book Deals and Author Platforms

Regular readers of this blog know I favor self-publishing; but, I’ve written quite a bit about the traditional route, too—they both have their challenges… 

And, one person who knows a lot about getting traditional book deals is Jane Friedman. This makes the 43rd time I’ve referenced her here…

And, as far as Author Platform, this is the 23rd post with that as a topic…

Before I share a few excerpts from a recent article from Jane about platforms and deals, I’ll share a few excerpts about author platforms (for folks who know nothing about them) from one of my past articles—Building An Author Platform ~ One Critical Step . . . :

“The universe of Book Promotion gave birth to the term Author Platform and I’ve been amused ever since…

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with the term but there are plenty of folks who use it in funny ways.

“Some writers build a platform to promote themselves according to instructions from ‘experts’…

“Some build a platform for their books and then hide under the platform….

“Obviously, an Author Platform is constructed to Elevate the writer—raise them up above the Crowd—give them a place to deliver a Message…

“But, what many writers forget to do before building a platform is to choose a blueprint that They have drawn up and that makes the Platform serve their Own Purpose.

“That last sentence contains what I consider the most Critical Step in building your Author Platform.”

Now for Jane’s article—Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails (Jane begins by saying it’s for nonfiction; but, it’s perfectly adaptable for fiction…):

“Platform, in a nutshell, is your ability to sell books based on your visibility to the intended readership. If you’re a total unknown, then you may be turned down for lack of a platform to support your book’s publication….

“The dream-crushing cynic in me is tempted to say: Don’t force it, because it won’t work. You’re reverse engineering a process that—in the majority of cases—is destined to fail. Here’s why.”

Now, I’ll list Jane’s main bullet-points (explaining why building an author platform specifically to attempt to win a book deal will, almost always, not get you a book deal…) and let you go to the full article to read her sage advice…

1. You focus on superficial indicators of platform.

2. You focus on social media growth.

3. You put everything on a timeline that’s too rushed.

I’ll close with part of Jane’s Parting Advice:

“Platform building doesn’t stop if you do land a book deal. Your journey has just begun. The good news is that authors can build a platform by engaging in activities that are most enjoyable to them—because if they’re not enjoyable, you won’t continue doing them for the time required to see any kind of pay off.”

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When Is The Word “No” Better Than The Word “Yes”?

I normally post to this blog Monday through Saturday, every week.

Yes, that’s quite a schedule but it helps with search engine visibility and I have a lot to say.

Yes, I’ve had a number of author interviews lately and there are some really cool ones to come next week.

Yes, it does still take me just about as long to post an interview as my own words, what with all the emailing and editing.

Yes, I do work about 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week on pre-publication activities for my forthcoming book.

No, I won’t be posting tomorrow. [  I cheated and posted a short announcement about our special visitor on Monday :-) ] And, No, I won’t even be looking at new posts from my Blogroll buddies or making comments on your blogs…

Yes, it feels Great to say “No” today ’cause I’m going to do the final revisions on Notes from An Alien today, tomorrow, and Sunday.
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Invitation To The Madhouse ~ Report On Self-Publishing

Alert: Stay turned to this channel for a special broadcast, Monday, 28 Feb.
Irina Avtsin will tell us all about the power of the word, “No!”.

{This post is almost a rant and purposefully written in a voice I rarely use…}

A madhouse is where insane persons are confined or a place exhibiting stereotypical characteristics of such a place.

This, to me, right now, is what self-publishing is.

Let me define my terms a bit more precisely:

“Sanity” has roots indicating “healthy condition” or “soundness of mind”. If I temporarily constrict my argument to the term “publishing”, most people who are trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of change in this arena of human experience would, I feel, tend to agree that publishing is not in a healthy condition or showing soundness of mind.

Many of those same people would go further and claim that self-publishing is the medicine needed for the sick field of publishing.


I’ve been involved in self-publishing for about six years now and the last year has seen me working overtime to come to terms with how to best take advantage of the opportunities that self-publishing seems to offer.

I don’t have space in this post to detail the ills of the traditional publishing route but anyone interested can easily find much to ponder.

So, try to accept one point on a conditional basis: self-publishing can bring a book to market faster and supply the author with higher royalties than traditional publishing, as long as the author is not already on the bestseller lists or in the stable of a publishing house being preened to take the book-world by storm when the right marketing moment arrives.

If the above statement is true, one would think that an author would find it easier to self-publish…

My experience has been that the word “easy” needs to be carefully defined with ample attention being paid to whether said author has what it takes to build their own following and work intensely at experimenting till they find the particular combination of tasks that can assure them a sufficient platform of eager individuals waiting to render them aid on publishing day.

If you are comfortable with building relationships, if you can be honestly altruistic in those relationships, if you can multiply the number of those relationships, if you have the time to attend to them with care and diligence, if you have the money to pay for or can trade for the expertise of editors, artists, and publicity specialists, then, maybe you would say self-publishing is easier than going the traditional route.

The reason I’ve been willing to persevere in the madhouse of self-publishing isn’t because I can easily fulfill all the ifs in the last paragraph.

I will continue to do all I can to successfully self-publish my work-in-progress because I lack the patience to search for an agent who would accept the unusual book I had to write and must publish, because I don’t have a few years to wait while such an agent finds a publisher who thinks my book can sell and negotiates a contract, because I refuse to be paid a royalty that can have itself disappear in paybacks to the publisher if the book doesn’t sell, and because finding an editor I don’t have to pay and supplying cover artwork are something I was able to personally handle.

So, from my perspective, the crumbling house of traditional publishing and the raucous adolescent scene of self-publishing are both “madhouses” but I’m a writer and I have a book I’ve written and I want people to read it and I had to make a choice…

I chose self-publishing.

I’ve written about this topic before in this blog and using the handy Top Tags Cloud in the side panel will lead you to those other musings…

What are your thoughts, theories, experiences, and rants or raves about traditional publishing and self-publishing?
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Meeting My Editor And Other Strange And Wonderful Events

I’m going to have my first face-to-face meeting with my editor in eight days.

I just realized as I wrote that sentence that the combination of “face-to-face” and “editor” might have given a few readers a chill.

A face-to-face is serious, right?

Does serious have to mean bad?

The editor, that horrible person who has some perverted need to hack away at my pristine creation, tells me I can’t be inventive with my punctuation, and shows disrespect to my artistic integrity.

That last sentence is fiction since my editor is a delightful young woman who found a bunch of typos, suggested a few sentence rearrangements that will make the story flow better, and actually thinks I’ve written a very good book.

We’ll be meeting at the Starbucks inside the Kroger’s just past the Veteran’s Park. She’ll have come from one of her classes at the University of Dayton and I’ll have just emerged from my writer’s cave.

I look forward to that conversation.

I’m also looking forward to the May publication of Notes from An Alien. I’m self-publishing with FastPencil so I call the shots on when to release the book (if you visit FastPencil’s site, getting an account is free and so are many of their writer’s services :-).

The delay in publishing, since it might take me all of two days to incorporate the edits from Laura and get a little final formatting done, is necessary because I need to do more social networking–a strange and wonderful thing–before the book is born.

I gave a little hint at the creative side of publishing in a previous post but the actual path I’ve traveled, since well before I sat down to write the book, is very strange and quite wonderful to me.

First the on-going experience with my main character and “co-author”, Sena Quaren, in the virtual world Second Life.

Next, the experience of building a web site for the book.

Then, the rather awful experience of wading through how to integrate Facebook and Twitter into my social networking efforts. It might be that I’m such a massive introvert but the blatant and brazen extroversion of those spaces took some creative throttling to fit into what I consider social activity.

Next was the creation of this blog, separate but integrated with the book site, and the search for folks for my Blogroll–people I communicate with and promote on Facebook and Twitter.

That little boy who was born on the southern shore of a Great Lake almost 6.5 decades ago is still in here, an important part of my consciousness, marveling at all this activity to create an audience for a book we wrote. Yes, little Alex is still here. I lost him for a bunch of years but he got my attention again and we’re both goin’ to a party with a nice lady named Laura in eight days!!!
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
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