Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being on the Radio--WNPR Helps Me Fall in Love with My Story Again

This week I had my small moment in the sun. A thrill for any writer, I was invited for an interview on WNPR about my new novel, Qualities of Light. I'd sent a copy of the book to WNPR in October, when the book was released, hoping but not expecting. The email came in February--We're interested in interviewing you. Yes! I said.

The host is a real expert at getting the story behind the story, no matter who she's talking with. Faith Middleton's show is in its twenty-ninth year, and it has won two Peabody Awards (broadcasting's equivalent of the Pulitzer).

I've spoken on over 100 radio and TV programs in past years, for my other books, and it should've been a breeze. But the novel felt much more personal, more risky to talk about. I prepared lots of notes, and even with all my experience, I was nervous as I drove to the studio in the rain that morning. I'd heard wonderful things about Faith's warm and engaging style, but it didn't matter. What if she asked me something weird? Or, worse, criticized my book in front of all those invisible listeners?

She asked me to sit across from her, in a cozy armchair. I asked for a table for my notes, and she said I wouldn't need any. Oh, boy, more jitters. But her smile and obvious enjoyment of the process of our interview softened everything. So did her first question:

Tell us about the image or moment when you began this book. Where were you, what were you doing?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Building Your Platform--Key to Selling Your Manuscript in Today's Publishing Industry

Do you want to see your name (or your book's title) in lights someday? You may need to get a platform.

What the heck is a platform? Writers in my classes ask this question regularly. Some are submitting their manuscripts and hear this back from agents they contact. Platform used to mean something to stand on, a stage. Now it means the place from which your book's message goes out into the world.

Platforms are built over time and eventually let you be visible to a wider readership. They let people see you and hear you above the crowd.

Not all writers--including me--feel comfortable with the idea of a platform at first. Can't we just write? Can't we just create something wonderful with words? Do we have to stand out? Platforms smack of being called a leader, an expert, someone who knows whereof she speaks.

In my decades as a published author, I've sold lots of books without platforms. Books were based on my expertise (nonfiction) or my experience (memoir), and that was good enough. Three years ago, I sold my novel without any platform at all. The publisher fell in love with the story.

But things have changed. I'm editing my next book, Your Book Starts Here, to be published later this year. It has propelled me into the world of platforms.

Think of a Platform as a Solid Place for Your Book to Stand
A very wonderful agent gave me some great advice.