Enlarge Your ‘P’ Today!

Sometimes I meet someone on Twitter with whom I just hit it off. Torre DeRoche, today’s guest blogger, is one of those people. Knowing what I do about Torre and her memoir – and, quite frankly, it isn’t that much, which makes this statement that much bolder — I predict that someday soon, real soon, we will be hearing news of her book’s publication and (fingers crossed!) you’ll be reading all about what it took to get it there in my Debut Author Q&A series. :)

It’s no secret that agents and publishers are on the prowl for writers who are well-endowed with a large, throbbing P. The letter P, of course, stands for Platform (what were you thinking?)

This is fantastic news … if you happen to be Paris Hilton or Lorena Bobbit. If that’s the case, your fans will flock to major booksellers and snatch up every copy of your memoir until there’s nothing left but the lingering odor of celebrity-branded perfume.

But what if, like me, after slaving away on a memoir for an embarrassing number of years, you’re all gung-ho to launch it to agents and publishers but your entire fan-base consists of your spouse, mother and dog? How the heck do you get a following? It’s a catch-22 situation: you need a book to get known, but you need to be known to get a book. It’s a riddle that gives me fever dreams.

That’s where platform comes in. I won’t pretend to be some expert on platform building—I’m only just beginning myself—however, I’ve spent ten years working in visual communication and marketing, so I figure that selling yourself isn’t unlike flogging any other product or business.

So this is my strategy for self-promotion:

  • Get endorsements. This isn’t easy if you’re ‘a nobody’ and most celebs won’t have the time (you unpublished scum). But every so often, a kind soul throws you a bone. I emailed my number-one hero (author of Maiden Voyage: Tania Aebi) and asked if she’d read and endorse my not-yet-published, not-even-agented book. To my surprise, she said yes (!), and I screamed the house down with joyful surprise.
  • Get online. Spread your seed like a lecherous man-whore. Twitter, Facebook, blog, comment and guest post full-time. Order home-delivered take-out for the family, neglect the laundry, let the dog walk itself and stay up into the wee hours of the night until you’re toeing the line of death from sleep-deprivation. You need to. Why? Because you’re not Paris Hilton.
  • Create a book trailer. Make it easy for the world to get to know you by walking them through your story with animation, pictures and catchy music presented in a fun/shocking/memorable way. If you don’t have the know-how, recruit a geeky relative or pay an expert. Contact me for a good referral. It’s early days in my self-promo plan, but my trailer has been my most complimented marketing device so far.
  • Brand yourself. No, not with a hot iron, but with an ‘identity.’ We live in a visual culture, and you’re given seconds to make an impression. Use graphics, fonts, colors, photos and words to communicate who you are and what you’re about. Go minimal, cut the clutter, keep it simple (nobody likes a hoarder). After one quick visit to your blog, readers should get a sense for you without having to delve into four years of blog archives. A visual identity separates you from the pack and, ideally, leaves a lasting impression. Plus, it’s a lot quicker than waiting four years to accumulate your platform.

So this is my plan, or a part of it, and I’ll see how it goes. I’m worried that, no matter how awesome the music, decorations and hors d’oeuvres are, nobody will show up to my party. But I’ll never know if I don’t put myself out there. If all else fails, I can always leak a pornographic video of myself, but I think I’ll go ahead and skip that one for now.

Torre DeRoche has written a memoir titled, Swept – Love With a Chance of Drowning. At age 24, Aussie-born Torre’s year of fun and work aboard was interrupted when, after a encounter in a San Francisco cocktail bar, she fell for a handsome Latin with a humble boat and an ambitious plan: to sail across the Pacific Ocean. It would have been a dream come true … if only Torre didn’t suffer from a debilitating fear of the ocean (thanks to Jaws). But struck stupid by love, she jumped aboard and journeyed through storms and paradise towards her home in Australia, struggling to keep the old boat, the new relationship, and her floundering sanity afloat.


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