novelist | journalist | istist

Author platform looking more like a gallows

I’m staging an intervention and I need your help.

It’s not for a heroin addict or a pill popper. We won’t be drying out any alcoholics or de-icing a meth head.

The party that needs intervening in this case is a rootin-tootin’, platform-building, social media whoring, blogging, bragging, taco-eating, bourbon-swilling, essay-writing need-machine—me.

I know what you’re thinking, “But he seems so together.’

A facade, my friends. Some might even say a metaphorical mask. (Note: Concept of people wearing metaphorical masks to hide who they truly are sounds very original. Explore this further before someone else does.)

I’ve known for some time there was a problem. However, it wasn’t until I read a blog by a guy complaining about people who only “follow” him and “like” his blog entries with reciprocation in mind that I realized there was a problem.

He went on and on about how some people would “like” his posts seconds after he posted them even though some of his pieces would have taken minutes to read.

I read with disgust as he detailed several individuals who he mentioned in his posts, complaining about how he knew they were simply spammy “likers” and how some of those folks actually “liked” the posts wherein they had been rebuked by him for their behavior.

I couldn’t believe the gall.

I was appalled by such blatant phoniness.

Oh, and I was just as guilty as the people he complained about. (About whom he complained? Really, Yoda?)

You see, in my desperation to build my “author platform” I took some very bad advice.

What’s an author platform, you ask?

Well, shit-a-loo, young Johnnie Crumb, put away those recovered memories of that summer in your uncle’s tool shed, pull up a hemorrhoid pillow and give a read-see. Uncle Benny (no relation) will explain everything.

You see, an author platform is a magical place where literally tens and twelves of your family members, coworkers and at least one guy who doesn’t read or speak English are exposed to your clever quips about how ketchup and mustard sound like “cat soup” and “mouse turd.” This, of course, is interspersed with pleas for folks to buy your book.

Oh, sure, every new writer balks at the idea of the author platform. After all, if yon scribe is expected to give writing samples away for free on a website, look and sound interesting to people on four to seven different social media sites, query agents and publishers, network with other writers, join writing groups and attend conferences … when in good-fuck will there be time to write?

What fool told you anyone gives a shit about quality writing anymore?

Have you not read the international bestseller “The Book of Awesome” and its sequels “The Book of More Awesome and some horseshit about holidays being awesome? (The last one isn’t the actual title.)

This series of books is a compilation of trite statements about everyday occurrences. Each “chapter,” which can be from a sentence long to a page long, ends with the word “Awesome!”

This isn’t the worst of it but it shows you the type of doucherie that apparently sells giant-prick-gobs of books:

“Gliding down the bike path on a Saturday morning, you whip by somebody peddling in the opposite direction and give each other a nod. For a moment it’s like ‘Hey, we’re both doing the same thing. Let’s be friends for a second.’”

Let’s not be friends—for even a second. But, you can buy my goddamn book!

“But Ben,” you say, “author platform surely cannot make up for crappy craftsmanship.”

(Note: Tweet word “crapmanship” along with picture of a poorly built birdhouse later.)

Au contraire, Pooh Bear.

Any self-appointed publishing guru worth his weight in goat testicles would gladly bet their YouTube webinar, large print e-book and flop sweat on the imperative that—if you want even a Kardashian’s chance in a free clinic at landing that metaphysical hand-job of bliss incarnate—you’d better get platforming.

“Platform!” they cried and platform I did.

To hell with Pavlov, when you’ve wanted something so badly for so long, nobody needs to ring the dinner bell to get you drooling in your Bates Floataways.

They said “Go post, young man.” And I did. And I do. And I done. And I-e-i-e-i will always love you-oo-oo-oo-i will always love yooooooooooooooooooou!

How does that Beckett quote go? “I can’t go blog. I’ll go blog.”

I subscribed to dozens of blogs, many of which I had no interest in. (In which I had no interest. Fuck you, Yoda!)

I began bestowing my digital thumbs-up of approval on articles and memes, photographs and quips which often came nowhere near the high standards of my comedy snobbery.

It’s gotten to the point where I no longer feel right wearing my top hat and monocle.

I began begging everybody and their brother to read my manuscripts with the idea that I would take their feedback and improve my book … and then come back later and sell them the same book once I landed my big fat juicy book deal.

After all, they weren’t people, they were platform.

Mom and dad became the 50 to 60 demographic.

Aunts and uncles and cousins got reduced to beta readers and book reviewers.

My friends were deputized as sales associates and expected to give away free copies of “I’m So Great & Other Delusions of a libertarian, socialist, vegetarian, Buddhist, hypochondriac, shut-in” (yes, that’s the real title. See what self-publishing leads to) but only after securing verbal agreements that those poor schmucks they cajoled would also leave good feedback on GoodReads and Amazon.

After years of avoiding Twitter, I opened an account and began posting “hilarious” non sequiturs after reading no less than two books and countless articles about how having a fat stack of Tweeps (heaps of Tweeps?) was just about the only way anyone was ever going to get a traditional publisher of non-fiction books to pat you on the ass and whisper those magic words we scribblers all long to hear: “I’ll settle up at the bar while you get us a room.”

Of course, I’ve also read a bunch of essays which say there is no correlation between being social media savvy and having decent book sales. So, who knows.

Then I linked up with the LinkedIn, even though nearly all of the 190 or so contacts I have are all wearing suits and have job titles like Distribution Delivery Management Supervising Manager and Director of International Domestic Acquisitions of Sesquipedalian Syntax Transmogrifiers.

I think I know five people on LinkedIn and have met three of them in person. (Hi, mom!)

I was already on Facebook with my whopping 99 “friends” on a roster of folks who are mostly family members who use the program just often enough to update the fam’ on who died this calendar year.

And, let’s not forget the handful of strangers whose “friend” requests I accepted out of sheer desperation to build my author platform, because Chuck Norris, God and Stephen King know the internet killed the paperback star by tearing out his guts and stuffing his chest cavity full of cat photos, tit pics and stolen music files.

Buy my goddamn book!

I went through the trouble to fill out all the forms on the Google+ just around two weeks before I read an article that said Google+ was dead. (Thanks a lot, Obama!)

Some experts say I’m supposed to be on several more social media sites but I have no interest in Pinterest and Instagram just confuses the ever-living-shit out of me.

Besides, if I start another account, I’m going to have to take that time out of my day job and I can’t because my boss is an asshole. (Did I mention I’m self-employed?)

I mean, I’ve been a workaholic most of my adult life. but this is just getting ridiculous.

I run a weekly newspaper that takes up most of my time. The rest of my waking hours (which are relatively ample due to sleep troubles) are divided among pimping my first book of humor essays, looking for an agent and publisher for my new humor book, writing and posting material on my website, trying to come up with funny and pithy pictures and sentences for the combined seven people who actually look at my stuff on Twitter and Facebook, helping my wife with her book project (read: yet another author platform) and taking care of a high-maintenance Shih Tzu.

Oh, and I always find time to shovel what little disposable income I have at the frustrated novelists turned literary coaches who write books on how to become a successful author.

Because, apparently, all the really successful authors on the planet are too busy selling their novels to waste time writing books on how to get published by writing great books. Except Stephen King. His “On Writing” is fabulous and I recommend to everyone.

Now back to the intervention.

The best way you can help me is by not encouraging me.

Don’t “like” any of my Facebook posts.

Don’t “favorite” any of my Tweets.

Under no circumstances are you to “recommend” me for anything on LinkedIn.

And, for King’s sake, don’t agree to read any of my manuscripts. Except for Don, he’s already started and I really want to hear his feedback.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to install a trapdoor and counterweights in my author platform.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: