The following gluten free message for authors (trad or indie) comes courtesy of TJ Redig, creator of the Scrivener Soapbox, where I had my first ever podcast interview. He also has a strange new supernatural thriller out and it looks really cool: The Philosopher’s Load. Be sure to check it out.
Platform, platform, platform!
It’s no secret that agents and publishers want to see one thing (besides, you know, being able to write a good story) from querying writers: a successful platform. That’s how I ended up developing a podcast. Side note, I eventually decided not to go the traditional route, but the same rule applies. If people don’t know about you, they’re definitely not going to know about your novel.
The idea for Scrivener Soapbox was born during a class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis where I had enrolled in a multi-week course taught by Dawn Frederick from Red Sofa Literary and Editor Jake Klisivitch on the traditional publishing process (e.g., querying, contracts, cover design, platform building, etc). Overall, I found the class to be an incredibly valuable experience for anyone deciding between the traditional and self-publishing routes. Dawn actually sat down with me later on to review a contract I had been offered by a small press for The Philosopher’s Load. Thank God too, because I can’t read legalese.
That was one heck of a tangent. Regarding how I’d build my platform, I had an ace up the sleeve: recording experience. Many years of my life were spent as a musician living way under the poverty line, eating canned beans just to survive. I had accumulated a great deal of equipment and studio knowledge over that time and at one point had a fully functional home studio for demos (you want to shell out the bucks for a real studio and engineer when you’re doing EP/LPs). All the gear has since been sold off, but I knew exactly what I’d need to make a quality production and laid out the figures in a blog post. You could drop the webcam from the final figures too. I stopped doing video when factors outside of my control (e.g., the quality of the guest’s Internet connection) affected the recording’s overall quality
Giving authors, many of whom were relatively unknown but had incredibly interesting stories, a soapbox to talk about their work was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. One, I got to hear from others what worked and what didn’t (often in great detail after the recording ended). Two, I met a bunch of genuinely interesting people. Three, my name got catapulted into the social media stratosphere. Despite being a podcast host, I’m actually a pretty quiet person, so that third benefit was the most valuable.
Here’s the number one, far and away most important thing I learned: A traditionally published author has to sell a lot more books to make a living than a self-published author. I’ve talked to successful writers of both camps and it’s incredibly clear that the far more lucrative route is self-publishing. Increased exposure can come with the traditional route, but you could also end up with a publisher who does nothing to promote your book and yet takes a substantial amount off the top.
Learn more about TJ Redig by visiting his website: TJREDIG.COM.