Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of Time Lines, Platforms, Niche Craft, Too Many Ideas, and Getting in the Game

I’m back from my meeting with my agents. Actually, I only met with one; the other wasn’t feeling well. We went for a lovely lunch at a nice restaurant. He brought all the materials I had sent to him, and we ate and talked for almost two and a half hours.

We never really did discuss time lines, though. I think the gist of that subject basically came down to the fact that he said someone else said you need a five-year plan. I’ve been at this longer than five years, but I haven’t had a plan for that long. So, I guess the advice for nonfiction writers comes down to: Create a five-year promotional plan that gets you from where you are now to the top of a very large platform in that amount of time. At least, that’s what I took away from that little bit of our conversation.

I asked what I should be doing to develop a platform that would make it possible for him to market that one book project he sent me off to promote. He looked over my recent accomplishments and liked the fact that I’ve landed myself a spot as a regular guest on a podcast that has over 38,000 listeners per month. (I’ll be on nine or 10 shows in the next year!) He liked what I have been doing to promote myself on the Internet and was impressed (I think) with the growing amount of traffic to my web site. He suggested I do more of whatever I’ve been doing on that front (posting lots of articles to article directories), and that I get out and do much a lot more speaking. (Why was I not surprised?)

We looked at all of my recent work and projects, my old book proposals, my more current book proposals (including the one they didn’t get sold), and then discussed how they all fit together. Basically, we tried to see how we could fit them into a niche that would be uniquely mine. I know about niche craft, but it was nice to see how I could begin to take my booklets and some other book ideas I have and begin to place them all together into a similar form for the same market. My agent has been telling me for over a year that I have the unique opportunity to really take over a particular niche if I try, and I can see how I could begin to do that through really focused promotion. Actually, many of the nonfiction projects I’ve been working on do fit together into a niche, because they have come out of my efforts to promote one or two major projects. In the course of our conversation, I began to see how I could produce a line of booklets with corresponding courses, audio programs, and such. And he suggested I do just that – and go out and use that as the foundation for my efforts to increase the number of speaking engagements I have per year.

I had hoped to come away with a better idea of where to focus my attention – on this book or that one, but instead I came away with more ideas. Some of those ideas fit my niche and some don’t. You see, I write about Jewish spirituality primarily, and, more specifically, Jewish spirituality for women. However, I have some ideas and projects with a more secular nature. These stem from my focus on Judaism, but they apply to a broader audience. So, it becomes hard to know where to focus first. Do I build outward from my small market, or do I circle back from the larger one? It’s best to do the former, my agent and I agree, but some of my ideas, I believe, deserve a bigger audience.

And there are the other book ideas…the ones that fall totally outside the realm of my niche. The ones that I’m sure could be big sellers if only I could get my agent or another agent or a publisher to just take a chance on them. But, like so many other nonfiction writers, I’m left working on my platform, chipping away at that time line, knocking off one more item on my plan, crafting my niche, honing my ideas, and wondering when the time will be right, when my time will come.

It’s hard to play small when you really want to play big. And it’s hard to sit on the sidelines waiting for the coach (an agent or publisher) to tell you its time to get into the game when you really want to run onto the field now and show everyone that you can score a goal. In the game of nonfiction publishing, however, it seems that until you are a Barry Bonds, Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Payton Manning (or James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, or Nicholas Sparks) – someone with a huge fan base, you’ll be sitting bench.

To end this blog on a positive note, I’d like to invite you all to purchase Elle Newmark’s novel, Bones of the Dead, at and then go to her party, which is still going strong, at Her promotion of her virtual book launch party got her seven (yes, seven) e-mails from agents and a contract from William Morris (with talk of foreign and movie rights) and made her novel an bestseller in two categories. She forevermore can call herself a bestselling author and her book a bestselling book. While you’re at the party, check out the party favors I’m offering. You can download my free Abracadabra! The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation Workbook. And e-mail me for a free recipe from my (hopefully) soon-to-be-published Jewish celebrity cookbook (it’s being considered by a publishing house right now). You also can help me get it published by preordering it; you’ll find out about that when you get your free recipe. And, last but not least, you can e-mail me for a coupon good for 20% off 5 hours of editing, writing, ghostwriting, and writing coaching services (a $75 value). Plus, there are lots of other great party favors being offered at the party. Anyway, what Elle accomplished serves as an inspiration to me. It doesn’t matter that she writes fiction; we nonfiction writers can take her lead and accomplish the same thing she did.

Last blog tomorrow….hope you’re finished with your project! If not, get writing. You don’t have much longer.

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