are fiction writers screwed?
I was talking to a nonfiction writer who scored a major book deal with a Big Six traditional publisher. She said the same thing I’ve heard from other writers and agents: “It’s all about platform now. Publishers are only interested if you have a platform.”
She added, “Fiction writers are screwed.”
Which echoed something a successful New York agent said to me a month or so ago: “I don’t even know how you could launch a fiction writer now.”
So maybe it’s up to fiction writers (and other creatives) to launch themselves.
To, you know, get all entrepreneurial and shit.
Seth Godin refers to “author enterprises”:
Authors of the future are small enterprises, just one person or perhaps two or three. But they include fan engagement specialists, licensors, new media development managers, public speakers, endorsement and bizdev VPs, and more.
No one has your back.
Sad but true. The author of today (and tomorrow) is either going to build and maintain and work with his tribe or someone is going to take it away.
We could bitch and complain about this, of course – and we do – but hey, it’s not like it’s ever been easy to succeed as a writer.
It just means that it’s a different game now, with different challenges.
Used to be that the biggest challenge facing a writer (at least initially) was getting good and savvy enough to get published.
Now it’s about getting good and savvy enough to break through obscurity and get an audience (and create enough “light and heat”, as one ex-agent put it, to attract a traditional publisher, if you decide to go that route).
This involves marketing. Or unmarketing. Or content marketing. Whatever you want to call it. Enough to make a writer’s blood run cold – after all, we hate this stuff.
We also tend to think we’re above it.
But I was at a conference this weekend
(see, here’s a picture of me at the conference)
where I heard Marie Forleo give this definition of marketing – or rather, good marketing:
Making an emotional connection with the people whom you’re meant to serve.
Maybe we can modify that a bit:
Making an emotional connection with those people formerly known as your audience whom you’re meant to serve both as a writer and a storyteller.
So are any of us above doing that?
Does thinking about ‘platform’ and ‘marketing’ in those kinds of terms change your sense of them at all?
Online and off.
And maybe we’re not so screwed after all.
I’m off to work on my fiction.
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