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Platt-etudes

WRITE ON!

(write on paper, write on a computer, write on your arm, but just WRITE!)

Okay, here's some stuff you won't learn in any book:

TEN THINGS THAT WILL TAKE YOU BY SURPRISE WHEN YOU BECOME PUBLISHED

I list them here as fair warning to you. For those of you who are already published, recite out loud with me:

  1. The people who sniffed at you back when you were unpublished will still sniff at you. Whereas they used to say, "My uncle writes fiction for the New York Times Bestseller list. He just writes and gets just shitillions of dollars! " will now say, "Gee, I couldn't find your book anywhere."
  2. People will assume that you have a garage full of books that you don't have a clue what to do with and will ask you EVERY time you see them, "Where's MY copy?"
  3. People think, because your novel sells for 25 bucks at the local bookery, that you are now rolling in dough and why the hell aren't you in a better car by now?
  4. It is wrong to assume everyone - be they best friends or family -has read/will read your book.
  5. Does this bit of rationale sound familiar? "I don't care what ANYONE thinks about my book, just let me get it sold and on the bookshelves?" Again, wrong. You WILL care.
  6. Few people in the media who you are 'mediating' with will have read your book. Or care that they haven't. But don't let on that you know. Get the best out of the interview.
  7. Unless you - like the uncle of that sniffy friend - write books on the NY Bestseller list, you will not be on the famous twelve-city tour complete with all the latte you can drink and friendly limo driver to be your slave. You will drive yourself, book your own promo, stay in cheap motels, drink vended coffee.
  8. People will also give you this one: "Hey, once you publish one, you'll publish 'em all." Every author I know has to write better and stronger than before - every book stands on its own with the publishers. So, there are no laurels to rest upon. THIS IS WORK!
  9. Your social life will change. No longer can you stay a recluse - you have to get out of your bathrobe and APPEAR. I had to take a workshop just to remember how to put on pantyhose. THIS IS WORK!
  10. It really was a surprise to learn that editors do - for the most part -serve a viable function in the scheme of writing things. Whereas I thought they were simply a bunch of S and M freaks who got thrills out of hacking away our precious words, I have since come to realize that they serve a purpose. They make good writers great. Don't ask me how. It's all very mystical.
WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU IN HOW-TO-BE-A-WRITER SCHOOL

Well, actually, they don't tell you a lot, but here's the biggie - they don't prepare you for promoting your books. Getting the book written is relatively easy. Getting the book sold to a publisher is pretty tough. Getting good reviews is even tougher - but getting the THING READ is the toughest. Therefore, be ye not a writer unless ye can hawk - and I ain't talkin' lugies here.

You must do signings, speaking engagements, conferences, interviews, schmoozing and anything else it takes to find a reader. Books do no one any good if they are not being read and you must find your readers. So, if you have been 'my' reader this far, then maybe you'll go a step farther and find my books. And no, there will not be a quiz on any of them.

My funnest sales coup? I sold a copy of one of my books to a solicitor trying to get me to buy some sort of resort timeshare. No lie.

My sneakiest promo? I slip bookmarks into my bills.

My nastiest promo? I slip bookmarks into the postage paid return envelopes for direct mail solicitations. THEY pay the postage and someone has to open that envelope!

The best bang for the buck promo? Postcards of the cover. I buy my own and sometimes, if I whine enough, a publisher will reimburse me. I have minimal information printed on the address side - all along the border, so I can use the postcards as invites to upcoming signings. I figure no less than five actual HUMAN BEANS see a postcard. More than one postal worker has shown up at one of my booksignings!

You have to be just as create in getting published and promoted as you have been in writing your project. Think outside the box. In fact, throw the box away! Well, recycle it in an environmentally responsible manner.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING

No writer is an island. Building a network is very important. Attend some conferences, schmooze the bars (at a conference - unless you're in search of character studies), introduce yourself, take and leave business cards, build a website, join some professional or amateur affiliations apropos to your genre. I am a member of Western Writers of America (www.westernwriters.org), Women Writing the West (www.womenwritingthewest.org) and The Authors Guild (www.authorsguild.org) I also recommend Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org). Some writers do well in a discussion or critique group. Some writers swear by then, I swear AT them. Just not for me.

There are a ton of writing sites online. I find www.writing.com to be very helpful. Again, some are genre specific and others are for the trade in general.

I always contend that you never know on whose desk your project is going to land. Especially true when you have a real book in your hands and you are looking for film options or subsidiary rights which you might control. You would be surprised how many deals come through the serendipity of a person walking past a desk, picking up a book, and paging through it. Network yourself, your work, your voice. With the internet, there are no excuses. And believe me, I have looked for all the excuses at some time or another.

Randall Platt
Contact

Links which help keep my chain from unraveling:

Writers! You can't go wrong with writers! So many writer friends, how can I list them? Good friends, great writers! Check out:

Jane Kirkpatrick - read everything she writes!

If your stories come to you in the form of words and music, then you need check out Rand Bishop - A gifted musician, recoding industry expert, and lifelong friend. Look for his great new read about the music industry from one who's been there, done that and lived to tell about it.

Bill Gulick - no website, but Google him. Still writing!

Hank Searls - also no website and also still writing

John Duncklee - a sage in the sage

Val Dumond - grammar queen and all around wonderful supporter of writers everywhere

Loren Estleman and Deborah Morgan - mysteries, westerns, great folks!

Gregg Olsen - they don't come any nicer, wittier, or more talented!

Brent Hartinger - keep your eye on this fabulous young writer!

Kim Norman - This is a children's author who maintains a blog of authors who will do school visits (just traditionally published writers) listed by state. Nice service to provide.

Writing Links that rattle my cage

Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators

Teen Reads

Reader's Circle

Western Writers of America

Women Writing The West

The Authors Guild

GoodReads

Williamette Writers

Oregon Writers Colony

Absolute Write

Writing World( Hi Moira!)

No, I don't get any perks from these three, but:

For interesting literary insights and answers from a variety of writers, Eighteen Questions.

All writers are researchers. Better World Bookstore: Used books, honest shipping charges and all to a good cause

Screenwriting software - okay, I know one of the founders

Dee Tenorio - Website Maintenance and Flash designer.

Howard Petrella Photography - Awesome photographer. He did my photos for this site.