Why? I’ve been informed publishers want a prospective author to guarantee she’ll sell 50,000 books.
To sell all those books, I have to remove myself from my current status and get famous.
That 50,000 standard is somewhat problematic. I suspect it’s also a tad sarcastic, since it came from a literary agent faced with trying to get publishers to make deals on her clients’ books. From what I’m reading, though, a publisher does want to sell 5000 or 10,000 books in the first week.
For those of you who have not published a book in recent days, let me bring you up to date with the shifting requirements for non-fiction.
You don’t simply write three chapters of a book and send them to your agent. No. You write a book proposal. The majority of pages in a book proposal are devoted to pitching your book, bragging about how wonderful your book is, how there’s nothing like it anywhere out there, yet how it’s very much like several books already on the best seller lists!
That is, you don’t count on publishers reading your actual book pages and saying, “Wow! This will be a best seller!”
How does your book become a best seller? You sell it. You sell it from your Platform. You gotta have a Platform.
What is a Platform?
In brief, it is the kind of renown which elevates you a couple of feet above everyone else. (You could also call a Platform the hustings — which is what hustings are: temporary platforms from which speeches are given.)
A Platform is some sort of fame, fame which can be quantified in numbers. How many fans, followers, devotées (and devotés), readers, watchers, family members or cult members do you have? And how many of those numbers can you guarantee will buy your book?
Numbers are important. Thing is, I’ve got numbers. This blog, which I started in 2010, has over 90,000 subscribers. Aside from family members, I don’t know who they are although I’m glad to have them.
And my domain people (oh yeah, I’ve got domain people) regularly provide me with startling stats for this blog. My one-month peak was over 400,000 hits — I almost fainted when I saw that — and although I’ve slacked off quite a bit, last month was nearly 300,000 hits. (I no longer faint.)
Where are all these people who are hitting me? They come from all over the world. Last month, my blog was looked at from Tuvalu and even, yes, from Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Until I glanced at my stats a few days ago, I’d never heard of Wallis and Futuna Islands. Indeed, I thought maybe this was a joke, like a territory from a Peter Sellers film. But no. They really exist, way out there in the South Pacific. The land mass is 55 square miles, it’s population less than 12,000. I think we have more residents in my apartment building.
I am grateful for the readership of at least one Wallis-and-Futunian, even if it was only an accident. You know, someone hitting the keyboard randomly because maybe that’s entertainment on Wallis and Futuna during the pandemic?
My blog also attracts a number of Russians. Some of them try to contact me but have so far been stymied by a number of rigorous blocking programs. A safe peek at their communications showed me they’re selling sex toys and porn. Isn’t everyone?
Now, you can see why I haven’t gotten more famous. Whenever the opportunity arises to diverge from a central subject — how to build a higher Platform — I wander happily off into Google and surprise visits to anywhere in the South Pacific. Anywhere but my current reality: not famous enough to sell books.
My blog, along with the stuff I’ve published elsewhere, has for the past twelve years (OMG) been the only fame with which I am comfortable. I’ve never wanted to be famous. I’ve known lots of famous people and I wouldn’t want to be any of them.
I’ve had multiple chances to be famous but backed away each time. (Once, I tried to hide behind a tree to evade Robert Redford who was attempting to give me the chance to be a powerful film executive by making a radical pain in the ass of myself at 3 a.m.)
Actually, as a writer I’ve been famous twice. Which I’ll tell you about later.
(And geez, I haven’t even mentioned Brands.)