Angles, Platforms, Hooks, Gimmicks, et al

December 17, 2009

Sometime last year I read that actually writing a book was the easiest part of being a writer.  I might have poo-poo’ed that idea at the time; if so, I’m retracting my poo-poo now.

Just writing a fabulous piece of fiction is far from being enough to ensure publication.  With the traditional publishing industry undergoing so much upheaval due to technology and a struggling economy, the writer has to be prepared to wear many hats – bright, shiny, brilliant hats.

The writer has to be his or her own marketing ninja.  You must establish and maintain a solid web presence (i.e. writing platform) because the first thing any savvy agent will do if they are at all interested in your manuscript is Google your name.  They want to know – and, indeed, in this economy they must know – that you already have a following, that a market for your work already exists. 

The writer must also have an angle, something that sets them apart.  In my partner’s case, that’s fairly obvious.  He wrote his debut novel, Haunting Injustice, in a tent while touring the US on a Harley.  I must determine and capitalize on what sets me apart from thirty-two gazillion other middle-aged women who write children’s books, and I don’t have a freakin’ tent.

What do I have besides a fabulous manuscript?  What sets me apart?  My partner, Mickey Mills, tells me my “hook” is my passion for dogs.  I disagree.  I don’t believe that sets me apart at all; twenty-nine gazillion of the previously-mentioned thirty-two gazillion middled-aged women writers are crazy dog ladies, too. 

I think my angle must be that I’m a witch who writes about witches.  Mickey has reservations.  His very valid concern is that my religious philosophy might polarize the market.  I understand his concern.  Not trying to hide the fact that I’m a Pagan Witch is one thing; to use it as a marketing tool has the potential to backfire in a huge way.   It’s a risk, no doubt about it.

But many of you folks know me well enough by now to know that taking risks is something I relish.  Risky?  Hell yes, sign me up.  I’d rather fail gloriously than piddle away another fifty years in mediocrity.


4 Responses to “Angles, Platforms, Hooks, Gimmicks, et al”

  1. janet Says:

    I’m a market! I’m a market! Audience, I mean.

    I believe I agree with you on the wiccan thing — after all, you’ve gotta be you! Live it loud and proud and let the chips fall where they may. After all, writing about witches isn’t likely to get you the hardcore right as your audience anyway….anyone with an even somewhat open mind can find much to value in your stories.

  2. That’s my reasoning too, Janet. Those on the far right aren’t going to read a book about witches, be it fiction or not, so I doubt if I’d be alienating any sizable market segment by “living out loud”. Of course, launching a book about witches written by a practicing witch here in the Bible Belt is problematic. It isn’t my desire or goal to upset anyone, but I’m willing to let the chips fall, as you said.

    Girl, you get an autographed copy, of course – out of the first batch off the press!

  3. janet Says:

    Yay! I love autographed copies! I’ll even wait in line and pay and say thanks and everything. 😀

  4. LoB Says:

    Being true to yourself is the only way you can be true to your art – and your craft.
    But you already know that 😉

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