What an awesome video put together by our inspirational author, Scott Damian. Scott was a severe stutterer, and it taught him one thing; to stop using his voice. Can you imagine anything so tragic than a small kid understanding that he couldn’t speak without making everyone make fun of him?
But a funny thing happened on the way to Life…he actually found his voice, and his book is the amazing journey from pointing at things to communicate to becoming a wonderful actor.
I hate spiders and simply stepping on them isn’t enough satisfaction for me. I have to smoosh them into the pavement with sweated brow, gritted teeth, and a “take that, you hairy six/eight-legged biting bastard.” Reason being, I’ve had more than one spider beat feet for cover after I’ve stepped on him. Gah! The horror! Any spider that’s survived one of my stilettos is bound to be pissed off and seek the immediate services of every poison-fanged arachnid this side of the Rockies. I’m certain of this.
So for me, it’s overkill in spite of my hub’s admonishments: “Babe, you spread him all over the patio. I’m pretty sure it’s dead.”
Which is what brings me to the point of my post: Being Unique
It’s been said a million billion times at writer’s conferences and writer’s sites on the ‘Net…IF YOU WRITE IN A CROWDED CATEGORY, YOU MUST MUST MUST DISCUSS THE UNIQUE QUALITIES OF YOUR STORY.
It’s not enough to talk about your personal issues with infertility, because, well, um, no one cares. This is a discussion that’s crowding store shelves in every bookstore and online store.
The only way to capture an editor’s attention is for you to show the elements that make your story different from everything else out there. I’ll yawn hearing about the lengths you went through to have a family, because I’ve read this before, and you’ll become the proverbial smooshed spider. Many times over, in fact.
However, if you tell me that inverting your eyelids while doing the Hokey Pokey in a biker bar got those eggs and sperms doing the mambo, I assure you that I’ll read further.
Platform – Who You Be?
Yes, yes, I know. Much has been made of author platform, so I’ll continue to belabor the point. You may be well known in a particular field – say advertising, or website production – but that won’t transfer over to your topic of infertility. So the question for me is always, “Who are you? Do you have a big enough presence that I can promote you?”
Let’s face it, a national figure can pretty much break wind in church, write a book about it, and have it hit the NY Times bestseller list. But we mortals can’t. It’s incredibly helpful if your platform complements your subject matter. It’s incredibly helpful if LOTS of people know you.
There are many good books that die an unnatural death (much like any spider that dares cross my threshold), and it’s because the authors’ platforms aren’t large enough to attract an audience. No one knows them. Those books get caught up in the white noise of every other title clamoring for a readership.
So, once again, I bleat on like a yak strung out on crack…please, dear writers, if you write in a crowded category, do your homework and read your competition so you understand what makes your book different. Then ask yourself why someone would buy your book instead of the well-known actor/researcher/politician/expert in the field. If you’re not sure, then you need to work on finding a way to carve your own niche.
And speaking of carving niches, I think my friend, Sonia Marsh, is a prime example of doing an amazing job of creating one’s own niche. She took her story, Freeways to Flip-Flops, a wonderful travelogue about living on a tropical island, and turned it into an industry of what she calls Gutsy Living. She’s worked her apostrophe off promoting her book and ideaology into the mainframe, and it’s heartening to see the response. There are many travelogues in the marketplace, but Sonia added a twist of Gutsy Living, which is something that everyone can mumble, “Hell yeah, I’d like to live more gutsy.”
I’m sure Sonia would agree that creating her platform was the hardest thing about publication – and she’d be right. You can write like the wind, but if you don’t have a unique message and an established footprint in the marketplace, you may find yourself the goo under someone’s shoe.
Don’t be the spider. Tell me what makes your story unique and how your platform supports/enhances your story.
Maria Shriver asked our author, Robert L. Leahy, PhD to write an article about unemployment and trying to keep a healthy attitude during this tough time. The article is up on the NBC site, so I hope y’all go over and take a look.
Unemployment is such a scary experience because it’s about facing so many unknowns. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by unemployment at some point or another. KEEPING YOUR HEAD AFTER LOSING YOUR JOB is a godsend to those who feel like they’re drowning. This isn’t just an attitude change, but a fabulous life change to help readers get successful and stay successful.
Read the article, then get thee to your local bookstore or favorite online store:
I adore the PNWA for many reasons. First of all is the location. Who doesn’t love gorgeous Seattle? I think it’s why there are so many wonderful writers there. Seattle attracts all kinds of talent.
The second thing I love is how they spoil us editors and agents. They work us like dogs, but they are the only conference I’ve gone to that has the best goody bags…including wine! Wheee!
But most importantly is the staff who makes this conference possible. They bring in top speakers, offer wonderful seminars, and are incredibly helpful at helping new writers who are looking for advice. There have been any number of time when someone working the conference brought a writer over to me, suggesting that I could answer a lot of their questions. That’s why we are there, and the conference makes full use of that.
If you’re looking for a great conference staffed with friendly people and lots of great information, you will love the PNWA. The conference is July 17 – 20. Here’s a cool video they put up. Hope to see you there!
Sigh…a novel=fiction. If you want to confound an acquiring editor, use this for your memoir query.