Because The Editor Says So, That’s Why! -- Kay Marshall Strom
High in the Himalayan mountains, where Nepal edges up against China, a line of sun- worshiping laborers stare into the rising sun and pray desperately for enough sustenance to make it through another day. Just one more day…
“I like your writing, and the concept it good,” the editor says. “Now, what is your platform?”
When it comes to editor/author dialog, that’s the big question today. It never used to be, but it surely is now.
Good writing… great premise… unique concept… All those are important. Essential, even. But your book will have to make its way through the glutted marketplace. It will have to sell. And so it all comes back to platform. What do you as a writer bring to the table that will entice buyers to spend their hard-earned money on your book?
If you are Oprah, or Sarah Palin, or John Grisham—no problem. People who already have a big following, already have a platform. But if you are not one of those—and most of us aren’t—here is a suggestion: find a partner. Align yourself with an organization that is already on the cutting edge of your topic and suggest a partnership/buy-in agreement. If they agree to purchase, say, 10,000 copies of the book off the top, that’s a great incentive for the publisher.
Partnership can help in other ways, too. Your partner organization can promote your book to its constituency. Also, its people can share their up-to-date research with you. And they can connect you with people who can give you first-hand stories and illustration.
Today, high in the Himalayan mountains, where Nepal edges up against China, a fifty-two-year-old woman sits with a clutch of women gathered around her as she teaches them to make candles. Later, she will show them how to make soap. Under her tutelage, the village women have started a businesses of their own, the first ever “store” in their area. They walk miles to neighboring villages to barter for such necessities as rice and beans and oil, then they bring it all back and stock their shelves. Now they will add candles and soap to their inventory, two luxuries no one in the area has ever had before. No longer will the villagers need to worry about sustenance for tomorrow.
The great thing is, you aren’t the only one who benefits from this arrangement. So does the organization with whom you partner. Your book showcases their work. (Just be certain you don’t go too far and end up with an informercial!)
So, how can you secure a partner?
Most organizations are overjoyed to have exposure for the work they do. I have written five books this way, and each of them has been a joy. In fact, I would not have written The Second-Half Adventure had it not been for my association with the Finishers Project (www.finishers.org). Without that excellent organization, I would have had no way to connect with so diverse a cross-section of active retirees.
Two retired businessmen have their bags packed, but they couldn’t tell me where they were going because the area in which they will spend the next three months is too sensitive. “Just say North Africa,” one suggested. “That’s close enough.” One man is an accountant and the other has expertise in the area of marketing.
A retired paralegal is on her way to Tanzania, although she had to get out a world map to see just where Tanzania is. “They have such a backlog of social justice cases there,” she said. “I will be there for a month, so I can at least get some things moving through the system.”
Another woman with a simple résumé—she is a mother and grandmother—is on her way to an orphanage in South Africa where she will sit in the sun-dappled courtyard under flowering bougainvilleas and cuddle AIDS babies…
And since Finishers is an umbrella group for over 100 mission organizations, they offer wide exposure for my book.
Voila! Here, dear editor, is my platform!
Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-six published books, including her most recent, The Second-Half Adventure: Don’t Just Retire-Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World. Her writing credits also include magazine articles, short stories, prize-winning screenplays, booklets for writers, and anything else that will help make the house payments. Kay is an in demand speaker at events throughout the country. She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, so Kay encourages writing and speaking assignments in far flung corners of the globe. To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.