Thursday, October 19, 2006

Someone give that Little Person a Platform

I keep hearing that authors should have a "platform". If you write a book about a beagle then you better be the president of the beagle society. Writing a book about Egyptian excavation? Well, you better spend your free time mummifying your relatives. I generally ignore buzz words unless they make me feel inadequate. This one makes my 5.6 (with favorite heels on) self feel especially short.

My next book, Who put the B in the Ballyhoo? is about the circus. I can't juggle, I am terrified of clowns, and my last name doesn't end with Barnum or Bailey. What's a circus-loving girl to do without a platform?

I know my publisher realized that I didn't have a platform before they signed the book. I was not at the acquisition meeting, but my active imagination has vividly recreated it:

Publisher: what is this author's platform? (publisher has that delighted "I just used an industry buzz word" look)
Editor: Well, I believe her third cousin, twice removed, trained big cats until an unfortunate incident with a hungry Bengal tiger. Oh, and she can paint.
Publisher: hmmm...can she perform any circus tricks?
Editor: um well wait.. I think she mentioned a hidden sword swallowing talent. She is also very handy with a paint brush!
Publisher: Will she swallow swords to sell books?
Editor: I could certainly ask.
Publisher: well, if she will swallow swords then sign her up. And if not, then maybe we could count on that painting thing.

And there you have it. A sad tale of a midget circus girl with a lonely paint brush and no circus tricks. What will be her book's fate????? (insert dramatic organ music here)

Someone out there give me some ideas, hope, sage advice, or maybe just a stepping stool. How do you promote a book without a platform?


Lisa J. Michaels said...

Carlyn, you absolutely slay me with your wit! I was laughing so loud, my husband actually put down the remote (and the cheese curls) long enough to come in and find out what was so funny! He hates it when he's excluded from a joke! Today's password is... "insecure"! Anyway, love your blog. The editor-publisher bit was priceless!

ecm said...

Hey Carlyn,

It's me, Hoku, from the SCBWI Boards visiting your blog for the first time b/c you lured me w/ your latest post w/ a tip about school visits! ;-) Had to pause at this Platform Post b/c it's hilarious!!! I've been a children's entertainer for a while so I know some real pros (clowns, jugglers, etc.) and I have an idea for you about a Platform, if you're interested... How about "Circus Artistry"? There's alot that can be done with make-up and costume design--the whole illusionary, make-believe stuff of Cirque du Soleil. Anyway, just a thought!

:-) Edna

Kathy said...

EXCELLENT, I am in stitches.. (and scarily theorizing my own future platform...)