I’ve come across a number of book proposals that appear to be at odds between the book’s focus and the author’s platform and/or promotion plan, and the result is usually a rejection letter. It’s like in math, and 2 + 2 has gotta equal 4.
What do I mean by that? Let’s say your book is about knitting, and your premise is that knitting is a great therapy tool for easing tension and phobias. However, if you’re not a well-known name within the knitting community and your promo plan doesn’t include some serious contact with therapy groups, or well-attended classes where you’re teaching people to knit, then I’m going to have a harder time taking your book’s premise seriously.
Anyone can have a fabulous premise/focus/intent for their book, but the promo plan and author platform must support it. Otherwise, I’m going to have a much harder time promoting your book. Imagine if said knitter sits at home knitting toilet paper doilies or pickling eggs, who is she going to talk to? She’s not in touch with any audience, so this makes promoting her book an uphill battle.
Let’s say she works in a bank, and her idea for promotion is to give a talk to her bank mates during their lunch break. That’s also a misfire because it’s a gamble that her fellow bankers will be interested in her book. The genre buyers at bookstores would look at my sales team like they had just gulped down engine grease.
“How is she in touch with her intended readership?” they’d ask. And they’d be right.
Publishers promote and sell memoirs based on the author’s platform and targeted promotion plan. It’s not how many people you know, but how many people know you for your book’s topic. You could be the cop who writes true crime, or the partner of someone who had a heart attack – the clincher here is how you put your experiences to work in the public eye – and then base your platform and promo plan around it.
Take a look at your book proposal (for info on how to write one, click here). These are the #1 elements I see in a promo plan in book proposals that make me want to toss myself in front of a herd of rabid camels:
- I’m available for book signing events
- I have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog
- I have public speaking experience
Let’s take ’em one at a time.
I’m available for book signing events
This is a tepid thing to say in a book proposal. You’re available? Well, I should certainly hope so. What you should be asking yourself is how and why would a bookstore want to host your signing. Do you have the ability to draw people to your signing event? Which gets us back to your platform. How many people know you? We schedule book events for our authors, and I can tell you that bookstores aren’t as willing to host author events unless they feel confident the author will bring in paying customers.
I have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog
This has never flipped up my Victoria Secrets because I have yet to see an uptick in sales because someone started a blog, FB page, or spent hours tweeting. Establishing a following takes a long time, so if you’re waiting for a book deal to start that blog, then you’re already too late.
Showing your pretty face sells books. Whether it’s on radio, TV, print, or at a live event, people get excited seeing and hearing the author. Very few authors know how to effectively utilize the magic of social media, so their efforts don’t yield a lot of result. Unless I see that your blog is wildly active with huge numbers of comments and participation, I’m not easily impressed.
Call me an idiot (not really, please), but Twitter eludes me. Every time I visit it, I see tons of tweets flying by, and I wonder if anyone is listening. Unless you happen to be in the Twitterverse at that moment, all those tweets that happened hours ago have passed you by as well. It’s like nailing Jell-O to the wall. Unless you cook with Elmer’s Glue, the experience will slide down the wall.
I have public speaking experience
This is nice, but what does that mean? I have experience filling my car up with gas, but this doesn’t make me a mechanic. What is your speaking experience, and how does it relate to your book? Do you do seminars, or warm up the gang waiting for the train with dirty jokes? Do you speak for a living, or does this equate to calling the kids in for dinner? See, I can’t use this is information because it doesn’t tell me anything. If you’re vague, then I have to wonder why.
So in the end, it’s important to be focused and deliberate with your promotion plan and establishing your platform. If you’re a soccer coach who wrote a manuscript about the joys of baking as a stress reliever, then you have some serious work to do so editors will jump on their desks and scream, “We got us a live one!!!”
The idea is to make yourself an attractive target that showcases you and your book in the best light.