Can that happen? Can a truly great manuscript, truly great writing, just disappear? Yep.
The greatest book of the century can be sucked into a black hole. Can lie undiscovered.
Why? No platform.
But My Book Is Exceptional!
The two most exciting words to type are “The End.” With my book, Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War, at the bottom of page 302 it was a thrill to type “The End.”
A thrill because I know I’ve written a pretty terrific book:. My kids think so too. So does my sister. And so do my friends.
But what about this? Beta readers who don’t know me say my book is un-put-down-able.
Without a platform.
What’s This Platform Thing?
The short-short version: my platform is my circle of influence.
And Why Do I Need a Platform?
The short-short version: So that people can discover my book among a million new titles published every year in the U.S. alone, and will want to buy it.
The slightly longer version (for me who is seeking to go the traditional publishing route): Agents, editors and publishers want to make money, not lose money. Businesses are funny that way.
An agent out there somewhere who agrees to represent me, will put hours and hours of work into me and my book—helping fine tune it for best presentation, selling an acquisitions editor on convincing their publishing house to buy it, and if it’s a go, negotiating my contract.
Still, the agent is working on my behalf. Still my agent hasn’t made a dime off me. Even after months of working with my book. And won’t. Until it makes money. Then, said agent makes a percentage.
So. No surprise here. An agent has to have a strong sense my book will successfully leap all hurdles and make money before agreeing to represent me.
The acquisitions editor my agent will pitch my book to has to sell the idea to a lot of other folks within their publishing house, including the marketing team. The publishing house won’t take my book, and invest the several tens of thousands required to bring it out—even if it’s the greatest book they’ve ever seen—unless convinced it will make money.
And just what convinces them–besides the brilliance of my writing and current market trends?
You guessed it. My platform.
My circle of influence has to be vibrant and active—and HUGE. It has to say to a publisher that I have thousands of people who eagerly await my book.
Did I say thousands? Multiply that a whole bunch of times.
My platform has to say to a publisher that the day they release my book, this horde of readers will rush to line up at the bookstore, cash or card in hand.
So I’d Better Build that Platform
There are dozens of experts out there teaching me how to build a platform. I’ve been making a start— pouring a little concrete to start a foundation, putting a few bricks here, a few bricks there—over the past year.
Some people want to follow me as I, a newbie at the platform game, am learning to build mine. If you’re one of those people, come along. We’ll pour a hot cup or an iced glass depending on the weather, and learn together.
And thanks for visiting. I blog about smallpox, about Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon, and about writing and promoting my manuscript. When there’s breaking news, I’ll interrupt planned topics to share that news with you.
While you’re here today, I welcome you to read previous posts and to take a look at the rest of my website.
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Grab your safari hat and venture into West Africa with this visionary smallpox eradicator and his small-town wife. She savors day-to-day life in an “exotic” culture. Until–sinister forces gather. What price will the young family pay?
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Right now. You can glimpse the humor and horror of a true story that few have ever heard as you explore the pages of this website. You’ll even discover that VACCINES & BAYONETS: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War reverberates in today’s news. Read excerpts.