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The result of this assignment is The Passion Of Christ (Publications International, 2004), my first solely-authored book. The coinciding release of my book with Mel Gibson's same-titled movie seemed to ensure success.
The phone didn't ring. I never received a single email from the media. My local Borders, which I was assured would carry my book, couldn't set up a book signing because according to their system, the book was "out of print" and didn't have a BNK-number (Borders' special coding system).
Disappointed but not dejected, I was happy that their competition was carrying the book, and friends and family members queued to get their very own copies. My husband and parents were proud of me. I was proud of myself, and despite languid book sales, overall, I was satisfied with the experience and enjoyed the kudos from my inner circle.
This key nugget of wisdom is something publishers will not tell you. You have to work just as hard to get your book sold, as you did writing it. When courting agents and publishers for Your Next Great Opus, you have to be able to prove that you can sell on paper. I am not faulting my publisher one iota — after all, they had commitments from the super-bookstores to carry the book, so it didn't matter to them quite as much as it did to me whether the book became a best-seller.
For that to happen, the writer must open the door. What I didn't know then, was that aside from the members of the Erika Geiss Fan Club, I held the keys to any additional selling power that the book might have had.
Aside from writing The Next Great Opus and comparing it to the competition, it is your platform that will tell the readers of your proposal about the book's marketability. To figure this out, ask yourself some questions: Who do you know? Who knows you and likes you enough to buy your book? Can you get it to people who will review it and help generate a buzz?
Sure, your agent or publisher might take care of some of this, but what are you willing and ready to do to help promote and sell your book? Beyond just writing, writing, writing, you need to be willing to help actively sell your writing to the paying public. You may be thinking, ugh, I now have to hire a publicist or marketing firm. How am I going to fit that into my budget?
Relax, there are some simple, inexpensive things that you can do to start building or refining your platform. And you'll be happy to know that you probably already have a platform and don't even realize it. Join me next month for more. In Part II, you'll learn how to find your platform and maximize its potential.
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