• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Wanna Belong to the Living

I really didn’t want to bring up the whole platform thing, and you’re correct that being a good writer and being a successful internet promoter are two different things. But it’s the wall we’re up against. Publishers want assurances that their authors can get media and sell books. My mother always said there’s more than one way to skin a cat. She also said all cats are grey in the dark. And when in doubt don’t. Shit, I miss her. I remember when this all happened. It was about 15 years ago and I called an editor to pitch a short story collection. She asked about the writer’s platform. I don’t think I had even heard of the term. Was she published in the high end literary journals. Nope. Did she go to Iowa or one of the prestigious writing programs? Nope. Were there any prominent authors willing to support her work in the form of blurbs? Negative. If that conversation wasn’t boner killing, I don’t know what was. I wasn’t able to sell the collection. Did it make me think twice before taking on a person with little to no platform? When I was an editor, I worked for a man who only wanted authors who went to the Ivy Leagues, or worked for the top five papers in the country. Wherever you go, there will be gatekeepers. I guess you have to decide if you want in, what you have do to get there, or if you’re your own gatekeeper. And if those winged monkeys flying out of your belfry aren’t living angels.

Who are you writing for?

12 Responses

  1. Me, Damhnait, poets, and the world

  2. So, yesterday WP hated me and my lovely response got sh*t canned by those gatekeepers. Three times. I gave up.

    Suffice it to say, I have social media (FB, Twitter, IG) but, followers come and go, a.k.a. stagnant. I’ve been on all of it for 10 years b/c back then, I read “get on social media,” and by God, I wanted this to work so I did. Yesterday I said that a dead possum on the side of the road gets more rubberneckers than my author page on FB. You can lead a horse . . . and all that bs.

    Here’s what I don’t get. There are writers today who’ve blown sales records out the wazoo and they’re not on social media. Delia Owens comes to mind. Tiffany McDaniel. Donna Tartt. IMO, word of mouth still works, and social media is really good for that. But not word of mouth by the author – from the readers.

    • Yes and those are the stories I live for. When the book itself catches fire. WHen I was an editor, long before all this nonsense, the sales reps and publicists and marketers would fall in love with a book and push it hard onto their bookstores, and in the media, and there were tons of book reviews back then. Here’s where I come down: it always was hard, it is hard, and it always will be hard to “break through” or “break out.” As for me, I’ll die trying. IT would also be nice to care more about the writing than the result, but I would be kidding myself. YOu guys know I want an Oscar for my screen adaptation of Bridge Ladies. FOr fuck sake, I already have the speech and time to lose weight to fit into a dress. Or Diane Keatonesque tux. Love you, have a great.day.

      • Testing the waters of WP – let’s see if my comment appears. I think I’m good to go if I only make an attempt once a day.

        You would think publishers would notice (most) authors truly suck at self-promo. Actually, they probably do, but two is better than one, and so on. There are a few who don’t and honestly, it pays off, and it shows.

        It is so true how hard it is to break out. But, it also seems that if there is a break out book, that book becomes the author’s standard. And somehow, no other book measures up. I keep thinking what the hell is Delia Owens going to write next??? How can she top CRAWDADS??? Actually, with Tiffany McDaniel, she wrote THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING, and it was good, but I actually hated the ending. Then she wrote BETTY – now THAT was better. So she didn’t fall into the trap of the sophomore slump.

        Ha – Oscar simply doesn’t know what he’s missing. Love you back Betsy – I’m happy for your posts.

    • Right. Also, if I had a good book and a substantial platform, I think I’d just publish it myself. It seems like the hard work is already done at that point, so why complicate matters and give up so much of the creative control? What’s in it for the writer?

  3. For the winged monkeys.

  4. “Who are you writing for?”

    Curious, intelligent people who enjoy written works that display a certain wit and heart. As if that could somehow be enough.

    But it is, Blanche — it is!

    Well … One thing Gordon Lish would tell his students, his young wannabes, was this — not an exact quote, but pretty close, and I’ll use the marks — “You people are up against people who’ve been to the best schools and have the best educations and the best connections. What have you got that can beat that?”

    All I have is the work. To do it, as best I can, never give up, never rest, always show up, get back in the ring, fight another round, round after round, until the final bell rings.

    Just yesterday morning I finished a rewrite on a book-length fiction manuscript that I had thought was ready to go until I slowly realized it wasn’t. It sort of feels good. It sort of feels like nothing at all.

    The greatest gift, for me, in having something published, is I never have to read it again.

  5. The huddled masses and the disaffected, anyone who feels rejected, unselected, maladjusted, fucked up, elected for class loser and unspoken for when the moon sits alone in the early morning sky, the damaged dawn yet to fully break.
    I believe that is a platform of sorts, but one convenient to ignore.

    • If I’m honest—really honest—I write because of phrases like “the moon sits alone in the early morning sky.” So beautiful. I write to search for words like that to call my own.

  6. Hi. Yes, I’m back. Returning to the platform of the platform.

    Cost-shifting is endemic in American business. If the writer takes care of their own publicity by doing the bulk of the marketing work through the building of a platform, financing the time it takes and the material means required, then that is a cost the publisher does not have to bear. This results in greater profits for the investors in the publisher.

    Publishing is a business. Businesses are required to maximize profits. Literary artists have room in such businesses only in so far as they — the artists — are profitable.

  7. Who are you writing for?
    Honestly I don’t know.
    I’m a realist. No one, and I mean NO ONE, will take on my book (even if it is exceptional) because of my age.
    Platform? Minuscule.

    I have been published hundreds of times and yet my op-eds, articles, essays, and columns mean sh*t because I have no title page. Prior to this past year of lock-down and hanging out at home, I had been often recognized around the area as the columnist whose writings many said they loved and missed. (Newspapers shrunk, columns like mine gone.) Would the papers I worked for interview me…hell yes. Would local TV? I’m sure they would.

    The only reason I continue with this particular book is because the people who have read it said the magic words, “I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end.” Were they feeding me BS, were they placating me? Is the book that good? Doesn’t matter does it?

    After another read through I have one more query to send because I promised I would.

    Who are you writing for?
    Like I said, honestly I don’t know but for now I query for the story, the characters I adore, and my belief in the quirkiness of the Connecticut setting which is a character in itself. I can’t put it down. I don’t want it to end.

    Who will I self-publish for?
    Me.

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