PDA

View Full Version : Nonfiction: My friend has an agent who stopped shopping her book until she builds her platform



aus10phile
01-23-2014, 07:23 PM
Posting this question because I'm trying to help a friend...

My friend wrote a non-fiction book. She landed an agent last year who started shopping her book around. She got a nice rejection from Simon & Schuster. The publisher at Thomas Nelson loved her book (it's a Christian book targeting moms & moms groups), but it got killed by the sales team, who wasn't convinced they could sell it.

After a few more rejections, her agent has told her he's going to stop shopping her book until she builds her platform up. From my very limited perspective here, I believe that she has a good agent who knows what he's talking about. So, the thing I'm wondering, if you were her, what would be the best strategy at this point? I know generally what the concept of a platform is, but I don't know today what the best way is to go about doing that.

For instance... is blogging very helpful? Is there a certain number of followers that would be impressive?

Or would getting a series of related articles published in a relevant magazine help?

Does she need some kind of credentials... like some sort of certification in something to put some letters behind her name that would add authority?

If there's another thread that covers this topic, feel free to direct me there. I did a few searches but didn't find what I was looking for.

veinglory
01-23-2014, 07:35 PM
IMHO, I think a decent agent would have some suggestions on this front, otherwise all s/he is really doing is ceasing to represent her but not returning rights.

If she is submitting to places like S&S a platform is generally a degree or transformational life experience. They do not tend to be impressed by the kind of online presence that can be built in a short period just to back up a book.

robjvargas
01-23-2014, 07:37 PM
Blogging helps, it a platform is more than blog followers. I'd say it's more like "all of the above."

Your friend needs to establish name recognition that gives her authority in the subject matter of her book.

"Jane Doe says X about Y." Why do we care what she says about it?

Anything that answers that question, IMO, is her platform.

veinglory
01-23-2014, 07:42 PM
She might try registering in sites that provide experts for journalists. That might get some media coverage.

aus10phile
01-23-2014, 07:45 PM
IMHO, I think a decent agent would have some suggestions on this front, otherwise all s/he is really doing is ceasing to represent her but not returning rights.

Yeah, he may have. I'm still getting the full scoop. A few of us writer friends were going to have a little strategy meeting with her this morning to debrief and brainstorm, but school was canceled because of weather so we're all home with our kids instead. I thought since there's so much great advice here I'd put the question out there and come back with some ideas when I have coffee with her next week. I wondered if anyone else had this same experience.

rainsmom
01-24-2014, 12:01 AM
What kind of book is it? Is it a memoir or information on a specific topic? The way to build a platform is going to vary based on who the readers are for that particular book. The point of platform is to build an audience of potential readers.

Bushrat
01-24-2014, 12:12 AM
I think the big publishers prefer to have "experts" when it comes to non-fiction authors. My hunch is they would expect her to have a fairly solid reputation and be somewhat of an authority in her field, so not only have a blog and written a few articles, but also have given workshops, been interviewed on radio and TV.
I guess it depends on if she really wants to make this topic more or less a focus of her life. If not, then smaller publishing companies might be more open to her book and a platform that consists of just a blog and some magazine credits.
This is my wild guess, so take with plenty of salt ;)

aus10phile
01-24-2014, 12:45 AM
What kind of book is it? Is it a memoir or information on a specific topic? The way to build a platform is going to vary based on who the readers are for that particular book. The point of platform is to build an audience of potential readers.

I would say motivational/informational. Non-fiction is not my category, so I don't know the genres well. It's a book to help people get motivated and organized to do service/charity work, make a difference in the world. It's the kind of book that a mom's group at a church might read. I'm summing this up really badly because it's been a year since I read it and it's gone through revisions since then that I haven't even seen.


I think the big publishers prefer to have "experts" when it comes to non-fiction authors. My hunch is they would expect her to have a fairly solid reputation and be somewhat of an authority in her field, so not only have a blog and written a few articles, but also have given workshops, been interviewed on radio and TV.
I guess it depends on if she really wants to make this topic more or less a focus of her life. If not, then smaller publishing companies might be more open to her book and a platform that consists of just a blog and some magazine credits.
This is my wild guess, so take with plenty of salt ;)

Thanks for the input!

aus10phile
01-24-2014, 12:47 AM
She might try registering in sites that provide experts for journalists. That might get some media coverage.

Thanks for the suggestion.

veinglory
01-24-2014, 01:12 AM
If the goal is to be a social media powerhouse that needs to be run in parallel with the book. It is unlikely to be quick, easy, pr potentially even possible to achieve in any niche involving self help or moms. That sort of goal tends to be pursued in its own right, and over a course of years IMHO.

If he just means: have a website and being on facebook/twitter/pinterest in a non-embarrassing way so editors can Google you, that is a lot easier.

aus10phile
01-24-2014, 01:50 AM
If the goal is to be a social media powerhouse that needs to be run in parallel with the book. It is unlikely to be quick, easy, pr potentially even possible to achieve in any niche involving self help or moms. That sort of goal tends to be pursued in its own right, and over a course of years IMHO.

If he just means: have a website and being on facebook/twitter/pinterest in a non-embarrassing way so editors can Google you, that is a lot easier.

Hmm. Sounds like probably the most helpful thing I can do for my friend at this point is encourage her to make sure she's really clear on what her agent means by "platform."