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scope
07-01-2008, 01:55 AM
If you get a chance check out Terry Whalin's blog on his "The Writing Life" site. The one dated Sunday, June 30th, named "The Unknown Author."

It's terrific.

Soccer Mom
07-01-2008, 03:30 AM
linky?

nerds
07-01-2008, 03:56 AM
here 'tis:


http://terrywhalin.blogspot.com/

Toothpaste
07-01-2008, 04:16 AM
It's interesting, but I"m not sure I agree 100% with it. He comes from a non-fiction background first of all, I know he was talking about fiction too but it seems quite obvious he is trying to apply one paradigm to another. Yes I wrote paradigm.

See here's the thing. I believe authors should do everything they can to help their publishers promote. But I also know, from personal experience, that I didn't have any sort of platform when it came to my book. The only thing they could say about me was my acting which would make me good in front of crowds. Any internet presence I had came after the agent/publication deal. He truly believes fiction writers need to have a platform BEFORE getting published . . . ? Well maybe the ones he takes on do, but I know many many authors who haven't and who have been published just fine.

I think everything he says is wise, and worth listening to, but I truly disagree with the idea of fiction writers needing to have a platform in order to get published. Simply because I know it not to be true.

nerds
07-01-2008, 04:29 AM
Think of the great fiction writers over time whose work would never have seen a press had they been required to possess a platform. It's actually frightening to me when considered.

scope
07-01-2008, 06:08 AM
Toothpaste & nerdsRus,

In no way am I defending Whalin's beliefs, I just thought they were interesting. True or not I really don't know. Your points are well taken, and you might want to consider sending him an email expressing your opinions, and asking for a reply. I read his blog every day and although I often agree with him there are times when I don't. In such cases, at times, I've sent him an email expressing my thoughts and/or asking a question. To his credit he has always responded rather quickly [he doesn't know me from a whole in the wall].

Since I write only nonfiction I can't reply intelligently about his beliefs re fiction and promotion, and therefore can't take an intelligent position on what he said. However, it does make sense that a writer who can bring promotion tools to the table along with a good book is in better stead than a writer of similar caliber book who does not have promotional abilities.

nerdsRus, with all due respect, the works of great fiction (or nonfiction) writers over time were never required to have a platform in days past. Today, it's a whole different story.

SPMiller
07-01-2008, 06:10 AM
The explanation was inadequate. I'm not even sure what the hell exactly a "platform" is, much less how a novelist is supposed to build one before publishing a novel. Short stories definitely build name recognition within the industry--which is great!--but they sure don't work on the general audience.

Soccer Mom
07-01-2008, 06:55 AM
I have no idea what he means by a platform by a novelist and posted to ask him to clarify.

scope
07-01-2008, 07:44 AM
SPMiller, Again, I'm not for or against a platform for writers of fiction. Being a writer of nonfiction I don't know whether or not it helps. However, I don't see how it could a hindrance. But you and others writer's of fiction are in the best position to make such a decision.

I am surprised that you don't know what a platform is. A platform is an important part of any proposal that's submitted to an agent or a publisher.
I'll give you an example of a proposal of mine:
Page 1: Title Page

Page 2: Table of Contents

Introduction
>Overview 3-4
>Specifications 4-5
>Market 5-6
>Platform 7-11
>Competition 11-12
>Bio 12
>Published Books 13-15


Chapter Outline (List Pages #'s Below)
1............................
2............................
3............................
4............................
5............................

Index


Simply put, for me, the platform is the part where I detail what I definitely can do and specifically (with detail) what I intend to do to help bring greater exposure to my book and increase sales -- over and above what the publisher will do.

Elodie-Caroline
07-01-2008, 12:20 PM
I'm not a blog reader but managed to read the first paragraph and then skimmed to where he started advertising a book. Then, shrugs, well, I got bored, so you'll have to forgive me.

Anyway, as for a platform, I am a very prominent member of a website with over a million members. I've been a member there for over seven years and used to be the queen of the forums, but I gave that all up to write for myself, my novels, instead of keeping the multitude entertained.
Some people loved me on there, some didn't because I was very controversial. Lots of them want to read my novels. a) Because they think they'd be good as they've read some of my stuff and also because they like me. b) Then there's some who would read them because they think they'd be bad and they want to scoff.

So I am already semi-famous. But I really don't think, that by me mentioning that lots of people, from a huge website, will buy my books, will get my size 3 foot into the publishing world, will it :tongue


Elodie

Soccer Mom
07-01-2008, 05:30 PM
Hmmm, I read his response. Gonna have to think about this one. I"m not so sure trying to market myself before I have anything to market is really that productive. Start a newsletter? Really? I'm just not sold on the concept that you can establish yourself in fiction unless you are actually in the business. There are zillions of reviewers, newsletters, bloggers, etc out there. Another one really wouldn't mean squat. I think I'm better served by spending my energy on making my fiction fabulous. But like I said, I'm going to think about this one some more.

scope
07-01-2008, 09:20 PM
Elodie-Caroline,

Putting aside the platform issue re fiction, if you were a blog contributor to the website you refer to, not just a very popular poster, I think you'd have lots of fodder for your platform (i.e., millions of readers daily or weekly looking for you posts). But as member only, I tend to agree with you.

IceCreamEmpress
07-01-2008, 09:28 PM
I am surprised that you don't know what a platform is. A platform is an important part of any proposal that's submitted to an agent or a publisher.

Fiction writers don't write proposals, which is probably why SPM doesn't know about platform.

And this is why Whalin's advice is off-base for novelists--there's really no place for platform in a fiction query. Credits, yes; platform, no.

dgiharris
07-01-2008, 09:41 PM
I consider his advice as something that can help you, but at the same time is in no means a prerequisite.

Can having a platform help? Sure. Is it required for fiction? IMO no.

Soccer mom makes a great point, what is the point of building a platform if you don't have a book to sell?

I think the best use of energy is to write the book first. Similarly, a platform will do you little good if the book sucks.

In terms of building an audience. My belief is that you should get a few shorts published just to prove your viability and commercialbility. BUt its not like readers of your shorts are going to flock to the bookstore to find your novel. BUt I would think that having a resume of publications would help with marketing yourself which would help with getting your book out there.

But I think that the magnitude of that help pales in comparison to the quality of the book.

Mel...

Norman D Gutter
07-01-2008, 09:59 PM
Fiction writers don't write proposals, which is probably why SPM doesn't know about platform.

And this is why Whalin's advice is off-base for novelists--there's really no place for platform in a fiction query. Credits, yes; platform, no.

The agent who liked the novel I pitched to her at a recent conference asked me to send her a proposal for the novel. Her web site gives the details of what should go in the proposal: quick overview, synopsis, author info, competing titles, marketing plan, first 30 pages of the novel.

So some placed do use proposals for novels.

DAT

scope
07-01-2008, 10:00 PM
Fiction writers don't write proposals, which is probably why SPM doesn't know about platform.

And this is why Whalin's advice is off-base for novelists--there's really no place for platform in a fiction query. Credits, yes; platform, no.

As I've said a few times I truly have no idea or feeling about the bad or good of proposals as it applies to writers of fiction. As a writer of nonfiction a proposal and platform is second nature to me, as I imagine it is to other writers of nonfiction.

I only tried to illuminate SPM as to what a platform and proposal is since he said he never heard of one. I was not suggesting he use it.

Elodie-Caroline
07-01-2008, 10:09 PM
Scope,
The site I belong to doesn't actually have blogs, and if they did, I still wouldn't contribute to them. Whilst I was writing a blog, if I did, I would personally see it as wasting time that I could be writing my fiction.
All power to people that do write blogs, and I did try one once for around three separate times, but it's just not my thing. They are the same as keeping a diary, and I only ever did that for around three months of my life too.


Elodie-Caroline,

Putting aside the platform issue re fiction, if you were a blog contributor to the website you refer to, not just a very popular poster, I think you'd have lots of fodder for your platform (i.e., millions of readers daily or weekly looking for you posts). But as member only, I tend to agree with you.

nerds
07-01-2008, 10:34 PM
But there are proposals/prospectus, and there is the expectation that one have a platform. Those are two different animals - I know, I write non-fiction, and I know what I have to provide and what the distinctions are. In my opinion, the finest fiction across time has been that written by people who attended the School of Life, Participation, and Observation. People who obtain a Master's in bleeping life, who listen to others' conversations, who observe, who participate, who think about what they've seen, experienced, and heard.

That's probably a quaint, outdated, old-fashioned view, but it's my view and I'm sticking to it. I don't give a flying rat's backside what a fiction writer's PLATFORM is. I care about whether or not they tell a story well and show me through that that they've at least participated in the human race for fifteen seconds.

For crying out loud. Let's just sanitize all things creative. Can't publish fiction unless you've got this this and this. Can't hang a painting in public unless you have X credentials and letters of recommendation from the Met or RISD. Can't perform off-Broadway without having attended wherever. Screw the talent, we want the creds. Jiminy Christmas. What a pitiful sterile world this will be if things go this way.

:e2teeth:

IceCreamEmpress
07-01-2008, 10:40 PM
The agent who liked the novel I pitched to her at a recent conference asked me to send her a proposal for the novel. Her web site gives the details of what should go in the proposal: quick overview, synopsis, author info, competing titles, marketing plan, first 30 pages of the novel.

That's quite unusual! But there you are--it's a big world and everything happens at least once.

I was just suggesting that scope needn't be "surprised" that SPM was unaware of "platform" because fiction writers are never asked to write proposals for novels. However, I sit corrected, and will revise that statement to: fiction writers HARDLY EVER are asked to write proposals.



I don't give a flying rat's backside what a fiction writer's PLATFORM is.

Neither do the vast majority of agents--Terry Whalin seems to be poorly informed.

Norman D Gutter
07-02-2008, 12:16 AM
I have met Terry Whalin, took a continuing class of his at a conference, and pitched my novel to him, all when he was a fiction acquisitions editor and, now that he is an agent (he does not represent me), I stay in touch with him--trying to extend/maintain contacts in the industry. He is not poorly informed. What he is saying is, if an editor culls through the queries/proposals/partials for a novel, and ends up with two pretty much equal choices as far as the quality of the writing and suitability of the concept, and one of those two authors has been working on building an audience and one hasn't, guess whose novel will be accepted?

Now, I'm not real thrilled about this. I hate the fact that a novelist should be expected to have a platform before being published. It seems unfair and counter-productive. But I've quit whining about it and adjusted my career plan to do it. I can't change the industry, but I can change me.

NDG

CheshireCat
07-02-2008, 01:02 AM
Hmmm, I read his response. Gonna have to think about this one. I"m not so sure trying to market myself before I have anything to market is really that productive. Start a newsletter? Really? I'm just not sold on the concept that you can establish yourself in fiction unless you are actually in the business. There are zillions of reviewers, newsletters, bloggers, etc out there. Another one really wouldn't mean squat. I think I'm better served by spending my energy on making my fiction fabulous. But like I said, I'm going to think about this one some more.

My agent heartily agrees with you, as do I. And, for what it's worth, the editors I know personally all say they're looking for good, strong stories and don't understand how "platform" even got into the vocabulary of novelists. It's one thing if you're Robin Cook and happen to be a doctor and then write a medical thriller; it's quite another to write a novel about a PI investigating a crime and panic because you have no private investigator street cred.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The editors and publishers who are currently asking their novelists and other fiction writers for their "platforms," or for their marketing plans and promotion ideas, are trying to set a dangerous precedent. It is the job of the publisher to market and promote our work. We produce it, and they market it. That's the deal. That's always been the deal.

Every time a publisher shifts more of the non-writing responsibility onto the shoulders of the writer, that publisher is attempting to limit the use of their own resources, save themselves some money and time, and, therefore, put less effort behind the product they are marketing.

And if you think that's a good idea, add the extra burden to every single book you write. For a working writer already asked to produce at least a book a year (and often more), the strain on energies, creative and otherwise, can destroy a career before it can get established.

In my opinion, of course.


But there are proposals/prospectus, and there is the expectation that one have a platform. Those are two different animals - I know, I write non-fiction, and I know what I have to provide and what the distinctions are. In my opinion, the finest fiction across time has been that written by people who attended the School of Life, Participation, and Observation. People who obtain a Master's in bleeping life, who listen to others' conversations, who observe, who participate, who think about what they've seen, experienced, and heard.

That's probably a quaint, outdated, old-fashioned view, but it's my view and I'm sticking to it. I don't give a flying rat's backside what a fiction writer's PLATFORM is. I care about whether or not they tell a story well and show me through that that they've at least participated in the human race for fifteen seconds.

For crying out loud. Let's just sanitize all things creative. Can't publish fiction unless you've got this this and this. Can't hang a painting in public unless you have X credentials and letters of recommendation from the Met or RISD. Can't perform off-Broadway without having attended wherever. Screw the talent, we want the creds. Jiminy Christmas. What a pitiful sterile world this will be if things go this way.

:e2teeth:

I agree -- obviously. Writers write. It's what we do, and God knows it's hard enough even when that's all we have to think about. Add in the demands of a normal life, plus the usual career-management stresses, and we have our hands and our heads full.

Marketing and promoting is and should be the publisher's part of the partnership. It's what they're set up to do.

And for what it's worth, I've never heard an editor exclaim, "Man, that was a hell of a marketing plan that writer presented!" But I have heard many editors over the years exclaim, "Man, I read the best story in manuscript from a new writer!"

That's what they get excited about. And that's as it should be.


That's quite unusual! But there you are--it's a big world and everything happens at least once.

I was just suggesting that scope needn't be "surprised" that SPM was unaware of "platform" because fiction writers are never asked to write proposals for novels. However, I sit corrected, and will revise that statement to: fiction writers HARDLY EVER are asked to write proposals.

Neither do the vast majority of agents--Terry Whalin seems to be poorly informed.

Well, I've never, ever, ever been asked for a platform, but a proposal, on the other hand ... I've always been asked for a proposal for a new contract. It isn't detailed, and quite often contains little except my working titles and a few character names, but the publisher (a major one), wants something in writing before they go to contract, usually. Every publisher I've written for has asked for that, if only so that they can insert a few specifics into the contracts.


I have met Terry Whalin, took a continuing class of his at a conference, and pitched my novel to him, all when he was a fiction acquisitions editor and, now that he is an agent (he does not represent me), I stay in touch with him--trying to extend/maintain contacts in the industry. He is not poorly informed. What he is saying is, if an editor culls through the queries/proposals/partials for a novel, and ends up with two pretty much equal choices as far as the quality of the writing and suitability of the concept, and one of those two authors has been working on building an audience and one hasn't, guess whose novel will be accepted?

Now, I'm not real thrilled about this. I hate the fact that a novelist should be expected to have a platform before being published. It seems unfair and counter-productive. But I've quit whining about it and adjusted my career plan to do it. I can't change the industry, but I can change me.

NDG

Honestly, the publishers I've written for not only don't ask if a novelist has a platform, they generally want writers to stay out of promotional stuff beyond signings or whatever the publisher asks them to do. Because they pay people in-house, plus advertising agencies, a lot of money to do that work, and a ham-handed author blundering around can screw up projects and relationships.

And, yes, I actually heard a publisher (the actual person heading up the house) say that. In those words.

Write a strong book, and you increase your chances of getting published.

Platform? I doubt many novelists could build one strong enough to compete with the resources of a major publisher.

For what it's worth.

Irysangel
07-02-2008, 01:15 AM
Have to agree with CeCe. When Pocket acquired my book, nobody said a sniff about a platform. My friend is contracted with Ace. No platform.

Sorry. Platform != Novel :)

Norman D Gutter
07-02-2008, 01:15 AM
Possibly it's different in the general market than in the Christian market. When I met with the agent last month, after ascertaining from my pitch that my novel had potential, she asked, "Do you speak? Do you have a web site? What will you do to market the book?" This was an agent who sells mainly to the Christian market, but some in the general.

Possibly the general market is different. I have no experience with and have not researched that, so I can't comment on whether agents/editors in those markets ever consider what ready-made audience a potential author brings them, and whether they expect the author to be proactive in marketing. The only general author I've ever discussed this with, David Morrell (First Blood), does some very creative things to market his books.

It almost sounds as if we are talking about two different publishing systems.

NDG

CheshireCat
07-02-2008, 01:31 AM
It almost sounds as if we are talking about two different publishing systems.

NDG

Possibly, although there are published authors who believe passionately that they should work to promote themselves and their work. And some of them are quite good at it.

But that's a far different thing from the publisher expectation that an author will bring to the table, in addition to an excellent book, promotional and marketing skills.

Most authors, frankly, simply don't have those abilities. By and large, we tend to be introverted creatures who can exist happily without a whole lot of major social interaction. And, for most of us, the very idea of standing up in front of a group of people to speak and/or try to drum up sales is more likely to bring on hives than an eager smile.

If you're good at promotion and enjoy it, that's cool. Different strokes.

But all the unpublished writers out there sweating bullets because they lack a "platform" for their first novel? The novel is going to sell on its on merits, not on your ability to promote or market it.

Everything I know from being in this business for two decades tells me that.

IceCreamEmpress
07-02-2008, 01:41 AM
I have met Terry Whalin, took a continuing class of his at a conference, and pitched my novel to him, all when he was a fiction acquisitions editor and, now that he is an agent (he does not represent me), I stay in touch with him--trying to extend/maintain contacts in the industry. He is not poorly informed.


He's poorly informed on this topic, at least as it regards agents who represent mainstream fiction. Full stop. See the responses from the other people in the thread who, like myself, have published fiction with mainstream houses. Or don't listen to us: ask Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2007/01/411-for-415.html).

As you say, it seems like things in the CBA market may be different; that's not my market, so I can't comment on it.


CheshireCat, you pointed out a lacuna in my comment: what I meant to say was that first-time novelists don't write proposals for agents. Of course publishers want proposals later on, but even then the proposal is very different from a non-fiction book proposal (and, as you say, no "platform" required).

scope
07-02-2008, 02:07 AM
[quote=CheshireCat;2506077]

It is the job of the publisher to market and promote our work. We produce it, and they market it. That's the deal. That's always been the deal.

And they do market and promote
our works. And they do produce out works. And that is the deal. However, as things in the industry are today, anything a writer can add to marketing and promotion is welcomed by te publisher and all things being equal enters into their decision as to what books they will publish. Sad, perhaps, but true.

Every time a publisher shifts more of the non-writing responsibility onto the shoulders of the writer, that publisher is attempting to limit the use of their own resources, save themselves some money and time, and, therefore, put less effort behind the product they are marketing.

All true, but unfortunately that's what we have to deal with today. They know the pressure they can exert upon writers, and the more they can get from us and the agents who cater to them for us, the less money they have to spend.


[B]And if you think that's a good idea, add the extra burden to every single book you write. For a working writer already asked to produce at least a book a year (and often more), the strain on energies, creative and otherwise, can destroy a career before it can get established.

Unfortunately, if we want to continue writing it looks like we have little choice but to go along with it.

CheshireCat
07-02-2008, 02:11 AM
CheshireCat, you pointed out a lacuna in my comment: what I meant to say was that first-time novelists don't write proposals for agents. Of course publishers want proposals later on, but even then the proposal is very different from a non-fiction book proposal (and, as you say, no "platform" required).

True enough. A first-time novelist should have a completed novel to sell, accompanied by a synopsis and/or summary or outline.

The agent, presumably already representing the author, handles the proposal for new work or a new contract only indirectly; I don't write my proposals for my agent, but for my publisher.

And the proposals never include the sort of "here's the target market for this project" sort of info that a non-fiction proposal would contain.

CheshireCat
07-02-2008, 02:20 AM
Unfortunately, if we want to continue writing it looks like we have little choice but to go along with it.


And that's just the sort of attitude that turns "just this once" into "industry standard."

Look, every writer makes their own choice in this. But what I'm saying is that there are repercussions a career writer is going to suffer from the very first decisions they make in how their careers go forward. And they need to think, very carefully, about how they want that career to progress.

Will a good book be kicked to the curb because an interested publisher discovers the author isn't good at public speaking and doesn't have a marketing plan?

Not by any legitimate publisher I know.

Will an outstanding marketing plan sell a so-so novel to a publisher?

That probably depends on the plan and the publisher. But an important point is that coming up with outstanding marketing plans is rare for writers. Not, generally speaking, in our skill base.

So make up your own mind.

But if you arrive at a decision or a choice based on fear (If I don't do this, they won't buy my book!), you're likely to regret it.

IMO, of course.

geardrops
07-02-2008, 02:38 AM
Am I the only one who felt the post was just a glorified ad for Get Slightly Famous?

Or did I read the wrong post?

Elodie-Caroline
07-02-2008, 02:59 AM
That's what I thought too, but thought I was being too cynical to say so :D


Am I the only one who felt the post was just a glorified ad for Get Slightly Famous?

Or did I read the wrong post?

geardrops
07-02-2008, 03:09 AM
That's what I thought too, but thought I was being too cynical to say so :D

Don't take comfort in the fact that we agree :) My cynicism is the stuff of legends.

(And to add a disclaimer: not that there's anything wrong with having a post be a book ad. Hell, every week I post a band on my blog with the intent to get people listening and buying. I just think that if you're going to have your post be about getting people into a book, be up-front about it. Otherwise it can come off as disingenuous and turn folks like me off from the cause.)

scope
07-02-2008, 04:16 AM
[quote=CheshireCat;2506399]And that's just the sort of attitude that turns "just this once" into "industry standard."

Needless to say, we do what we believe is right. My belief is that no matter what our opinions about the art of creative writing, taking most any work from written pages to binding, and everything in between and after, involves the very real concept of business.

Agents and publishers exist in order to make money. Perhaps it would have been more meaningful if I said something like: If at some point a publishers submission guidelines call for a writer to submit a proposal/platform, what should the writer do -- submit same or not? If a writer disagrees with the publishers concept and refuses to submit same is not s/he dramatically lessening the odds that the work will be picked up? Of course this decision is the right of each and every one of us. Before answering this question please assume that the editor has two new manuscripts which she considers absolutely "equal" in quality and sales potential. She would be happy to publish both works, but unfortunately only has room on the companies list for one work. Okay, one writer submits an excellent proposal/platform clearly offering exposure and potential sale of the work, over and above the marketing efforts of the publisher. The other writer does not submit anything. You are the editor. Which manuscript would you select?

But as you say, every writer makes their own choice in this. Only they can decide how their careers will go and what is necessary to move it along.

No, I don't think a good book will be kicked to the curb because an interested publisher discovers the author isn't good at public speaking. That's something that can deal with. However, I believe that the lack of a good market plan could hurt, although it probably won't matter with a so-so novel.

And I don't think any of the above has anything to do with fear, but I think it has everything to do with ones perception of their writing, the publishing business, and how their writing relates to same.IMHO, of course.

Norman D Gutter
07-02-2008, 05:22 AM
It seemed to me a recommendation of a book he thought would help us in our writing career. Since when does making a recommendation of a resource become a bad thing?

Over and out. Wrong place for me.

scope
07-02-2008, 05:38 AM
Dear Norman,

I originally pointed out Whalin's article because it presents an opinion re a platform for fiction writers which I haven't heard on these boards. Since I write only nonfiction it was of no particular concern to the way I write or do business. While a few fiction writers posted saying that at times they had been asked for some type of proposal, others posted decrying the need to do so.

The bottom line is that Whalin stated his belief's and recommended a book which he obviously believes will benefit fiction writers. Like you, I don't quite understand what the uproar is all about.

Toothpaste
07-02-2008, 05:44 AM
And I don't quite see an uproar. In fact this is one of the tamer threads on AW. Is it an uproar if people with legitimate arguments disagree with his point? Or were you looking for us to go, "Oh thank you Scope for the link" and leave it at that? Most often when someone posts a thread topic the point is we are meant to discuss it. But I apologise if the only reason you posted it was for our general interest, as it was my post that started the debate.

I think many people here have already agreed he makes good points, but still disagree with him on the general philosophy of fiction writers needing proposals. This disagreement was based on a great part of personal experience (at least for me certainly). You Scope keep repeating over and over that you write non fiction and therefore have no opinion on the subject, which is fine, but we write fiction and do have an opinion on the subject. You seem very protective of this thread and also seem to think that any time we disagree with the subject of the blog post we are somehow attacking you, which is certainly untrue. We are attacking no one, as a matter of fact, but if we are discussing any person it's the blogger, not the person who started this thread.

No one is putting down the man's experience, or even his advice, they are merely discussing their opinions on his argument. You two are free to disagree, but that doesn't make us upset or irrational or in an uproar because we don't agree with you. It means simply we don't agree with you.

scope
07-02-2008, 06:25 AM
And I don't quite see an uproar. In fact this is one of the tamer threads on AW. Is it an uproar if people with legitimate arguments disagree with his point? Or were you looking for us to go, "Oh thank you Scope for the link" and leave it at that? Most often when someone posts a thread topic the point is we are meant to discuss it. But I apologize if the only reason you posted it was for our general interest, as it was my post that started the debate.

I think many people here have already agreed he makes good points, but still disagree with him on the general philosophy of fiction writers needing proposals. This disagreement was based on a great part of personal experience (at least for me certainly). You Scope keep repeating over and over that you write non fiction and therefore have no opinion on the subject, which is fine, but we write fiction and do have an opinion on the subject. You seem very protective of this thread and also seem to think that any time we disagree with the subject of the blog post we are somehow attacking you, which is certainly untrue. We are attacking no one, as a matter of fact, but if we are discussing any person it's the blogger, not the person who started this thread.

No one is putting down the man's experience, or even his advice, they are merely discussing their opinions on his argument. You two are free to disagree, but that doesn't make us upset or irrational or in an uproar because we don't agree with you. It means simply we don't agree with you.

Let us settle on totally different points of view.

No, I certainly don't need, want, or expect you or anyone else to say "Oh thank you Scope for the link." I said what you are referring to in a totally different framework within a post to Norman (check it out). In a very early post I informed all about Whalin's blog, and so no one would think I was trying to defend it I stated that as a writer of nonfiction (one who customarily writes proposals and platforms) I had no idea about the merit of same and would leave that to the fiction writers. Several questions and statements followed which dealt generically with proposals/platforms and in reply to same I defended their need under certain circumstances, always repeating that my opinion was one of a nonfiction writer. I think it's great that several fiction writers have clearly expressed their opinions re proposals/platforms -- that was the purpose of starting this thread. I can assure you I am not "protective" of this post, not in any way, shape, or form. Some of the fiction writers have expressed their opinions why they don't think they should have to (or ever had to) send a proposal/platform to agents or publishers, and I disagree with some -- not all. Basically this has nothing to do with fiction or nonfiction -- simply the ability to sell works to publishers.

Unquestionably we all have the right to disagree with another. Let us continue to do it with the respect we have all shown.

nerds
07-02-2008, 05:48 PM
And for what it's worth, I've never heard an editor exclaim, "Man, that was a hell of a marketing plan that writer presented!" But I have heard many editors over the years exclaim, "Man, I read the best story in manuscript from a new writer!"



This is an enormous relief to read. May it remain so.

aka eraser
07-02-2008, 08:27 PM
It makes sense that a good book written by someone with an elevated profile would make for an easier sale. If a writer can deliver X-number of buyers out of the chute it reduces the publisher's risk.

But it also raises expectations. If the book tanks, or fails to meet those elevated expectations, the writer’s next effort is going to be a very tough sell.

If you’re writing advice/self-help/how-to books, your road to publication will certainly be smoother if you’re an acknowledged expert in that field.

If you’re writing fiction, you “only” have to tell a story that rivets a reader’s attention from beginning to end.

Being “a little famous” can certainly help get your toe in the door. But most of the time, getting and keeping that door wide open is still going to require good writing more than anything else.

timewaster
07-02-2008, 09:43 PM
The explanation was inadequate. I'm not even sure what the hell exactly a "platform" is, much less how a novelist is supposed to build one before publishing a novel. Short stories definitely build name recognition within the industry--which is great!--but they sure don't work on the general audience.

Weell for children's writing it helps to have married a member of the Royal family or to be royal ( Fergie and Prince Charles) be a successful musician (Madonna), model (Sophie Dahl, Jordan), ballerina ( Darcey Bussell) or already have an audience for your fiction (Neil Gaiman, China Mielville, Jeanette Winterstone, Joanne Harris etc etc)
The rest of us just plough on platformless and alone...

CheshireCat
07-04-2008, 01:17 AM
Before answering this question please assume that the editor has two new manuscripts which she considers absolutely "equal" in quality and sales potential. She would be happy to publish both works, but unfortunately only has room on the companies list for one work. Okay, one writer submits an excellent proposal/platform clearly offering exposure and potential sale of the work, over and above the marketing efforts of the publisher. The other writer does not submit anything. You are the editor. Which manuscript would you select?

I've heard this argument before. But here's the thing. The "assumption" is faulty simply because for an editor to be torn between two equally wonderful manuscripts from first-time authors is such a rare situation that most editors would laugh if you simply propose the possibility.

Even assuming two manuscripts of equal quality, an editor is going to favor one over the other on the basis of the manuscript alone. He or she is far, far more likely to be more drawn to one over the other than to have to need the "tie-breaker" of a marketing plan.

I've worked with editors at more than half a dozen major NY houses (back when there were half a dozen of them) since the 80s, and in all that time, year after year, what they asked for were good, strong stories. That has never changed.

The only time I've heard this platform/marketing plan stuff has been recently, and nine times out of ten it's been from editors at e-publishers, new small presses, vanity presses, and other such houses where budget isn't a shoestring, it's nonexistent.

That doesn't mean some of those houses aren't perfectly legitimate homes for your work; it just means that if marketing isn't in your skill base, and you don't intend to expand your skill base, then submit your work to houses that don't expect their authors to spend more time promoting their work than actually producing it.

scope
07-04-2008, 05:56 AM
This thread began by simply making AW'ers aware of an article written by Terry Whalin in which he talks about the need for book proposals re works of fiction. Most who have posted don't agree with Whalin. I really have no absolute opinion about the issue, although, as I've said, I don't see how it could do anything but help a fiction writer. In that context I've offered some ideas which I believed fiction writers might want to consider, but if not, as is apparently the case, I perfectly understand and will leave the proposal discussion to the fiction writers.

t0neg0d
07-04-2008, 04:15 PM
I think everything he says is wise, and worth listening to, but I truly disagree with the idea of fiction writers needing to have a platform in order to get published. Simply because I know it not to be true.

I couldn't agree with you more. Prior to self-publishing via the web, this was not the case in the music industry either. It would be an incredible stretch to think that one could begin to carve out a name for ones self in this arena, short of producing massive quantities of short stories and flash fiction for publication. But then you might wonder, when they buy your full length novel... do they have the attention span to finish it?
:roll: