Just as I was settling into my golden years, I quit writing full-time to become a salesperson full-time.
I only have one product, but it's a great one: my current unpublished book, Don't Sit Down Yet.
A little background on my late-life career change: For some years, authors have had to do our own book publicity, but that was after our books were published. Now we have to do our own publicity BEFORE ANYONE WILL PUBLISH OUR BOOKS.
Whipping up this pre-sale publicity is called developing "a platform." Bad boy athletes and morning talk show hosts have built-in platforms, i.e. ready made audiences salivating for their words in print. Alas, four books, critically received but not best sellers, do not a platform make. My brother always said I needed more sex in my books.
Some tips authors are given to develop "a platform:"
-- have a dynamite website (that gets so many visitors it regularly crashes)
-- write a witty profound blog (that goes viral)
-- tweet gems daily on Twitter (that are retweeted by 10s of 1000s.)
-- have masses of people LIKE you on your Facebook Author page.
You can see that this sort of thing could take a while.
As in YEARS.
What's an author with limited lifespan left to do?
The way I see it, if I want to get my hot but not hot off the presses book out there, I have two options:
-- sell Xeroxed copies of my unpublished manuscript out of my car trunk,
-- suck it up and develop a platform.
I could self-publish as many authors are doing, but I would still need a platform.
Forget that canard about old dogs: you can be inspired by my superior adaptation skills and all the new tricks I've mastered. I've got the terrific website, the amusing uplifting blog "Don't Sit Down Yet," the catchy twitter/ hashtag, and the Facebook author account with new photos.
Build it and they will come.
It may take a while. My goal is to go viral before I'm dead.
Think of your platform as your friend, a person, savvy in the book business, counseled me.
Keep it between us but, unlike my human friends, I can only stand to be with my platform several hours a day. And working on this relationship leaves little time or energy to write another book, which would be a real pity with a platform already in place.
I'll admit there are days I feel like Willie Loman, an aging traveling salesperson. But then I think, I am like Willie Loman and I get right back out there pounding the pavement: Attention Must Be Paid!
Like a politician, I hardly make a move these days without thinking: Will this be good for my platform? I'm ashamed to say I hectored my kids to nominate me for Gold's Gym Super Mom, which might have not only improved my muscle mass, but easily rocketed my platform to national attention: See the astounding YouTube video of Gold Gym's Oldest Super Mom bench press 500 copies of her latest book on living fully until you die! (I'd look, wouldn't you?)
You might wonder what any of this has to do with spending years writing the best book you can that now languishes on your agent's shelf waiting for your accompanying platform. You're not alone.
I'm looking for ways to speed this whole process up. One thing I haven't tried is slipping big draw ideas into my blog that'll automatically widen my audience, because all the search engines will direct readers to my blog. Such as, "Today I'm not going to write about the Kardashians, What really happened to the Malaysian plane, Hilary Clinton's new haircut, Michigan Spartans vs OSU Buckeyes..."
Those things work. Aren't you still waiting to find out why George chose Amal instead of me (wrong decision, George). That's only one of the inside secrets of the stars that I reveal in my surely soon to be published book, Don't Sit Down Yet. If you pre-order, I'm throwing in a free e book which I'm writing during breaks from working on my platform, possibly titled Bathroom Thoughts on Building Your Platform.
My brother says I'm overthinking this, and that seeding blogs with fake come-ons to draw readers is too much work and not ethical. He thinks I just need more sex in my platform.
He may be right. Don't miss my next blog: Kamasutra for Seniors.
Follow Gabrielle Burton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/notasitter