Questions about Platform and Publishing
October 10, 2009 | Written by admin
Back to questions from readers…
Kara asked, "Is doing book reviews considered part of an author's platform-building efforts?"
I think any sort of writing you do that gets read adds to an author's platform. And if it doesn't immediately draw readers to your work, it keeps you writing for publication, which is certainly better than doing writing that nobody will ever see. So doing book reviews, movie reviews, restaurant reviews, local newspaper columns, and a blog may not garner you thousands of readers, but it gets you in front of more people than those who aren't doing it.
On a related note, Debbie wrote, "I review books on my blog for some large CBA publishers, but today I received a request to review a book from Xulon (a self-publishing company). I'm wondering if a review of something like that will hurt my credibility."
I doubt it. A reviewer writes responses to books — so make it an honest, helpful review for the readers, Debbie. (And be warned… I've had some self-pubbed projects sent to me recently that were incredibly bad. If the book you received is similar, you'll have to figure out if you want to toast the author, or just ignore it and review something else.)
Devin wants to know, "Realistically, what hope is there for my novels to be published in the US while I'm living in South Africa? My writing tone is a bit different than US writers, and my settings are all in South Africa. Do I have a chance of being picked up?"
Realistically you face an uphill climb, Devin. American audiences generally like American settings and American language, and American publishers want to know you're going to be here to help them sell the book. That's not to say a fabulous writer from another country can't have great success here — it certainly happens. But it's rare, and it's basically writers who have had incredible success in their home countries.
(Speaking of which, a friend recently sent me a note from Stuart McAllister, a pastor and speaker from Scotland. In a recent radio address, he said, "When the Gospel came to Britain, it was embraced with great enthusiasm by the four great tribes of people. The English warmly embraced the Gospel because it was something they could build a culture from. The Welsh embraced the Gospel because it was something they could sing about. The Irish embraced the Gospel because it was something they could fight over. And we Scots embraced it because it was free!")
And keeping you up on new trends, Simon & Schuster has just starting marketing a "vook." (A video-enhanced-book.) It's a combination of text and images (basically video clips — think "the newspapers in the Harry Potter movies"), and they're aimed at the iPhone market. The two novels releasing are from Richard Doetsch and Jude Devereaux, so they're relying on proven authors, and the low price-point ($6.99) means they're trying to build enthusiasm for the product. It's an interesting concept.
Also on the horizon is a new e-book reader from Barnes & Noble, which they're hoping to get into stores later this month, in time for your Christmas shopping. Rumors say it will have a color screen and use cell phone technology (relying on AT&T) so you'll download books the way you receive text messages. Having a the country's biggest book retailer push an e-reader will surely give Sony and Amazon some serious competition. Some people think this is why Amazon just cut the price of the Kindle another hundred bucks (it's now $259). You may not own an e-reader yet, but you will… just like a cell phone, a TV remote, an answering machine, a GPS, and an iPod, an e-reader will become part of your electronic life.
We've already had people sign up for our Fiction Marketing Seminar. In case you haven't heard, I'm working with JIm Rubart, a twenty-year marketing veteran, to do a two-day seminar in Dallas (Nov 20-21) and Indianapolis (Dec 4-5) that will focus solely on helping novelists determine a fiction marketing plan for their books. For too long publishers have relied on marketing plans that were developed for nonfiction books, with the expected result of leaving novelists less than satisfied. So we're going to take a small group of novelists in each city, and help them create marketing plans that are unique for their titles. You can find out all about it at
www.themasterseminars.com. Would love to have you join us.