“… when streams are ripe and swelled with rain.” With apologies to Paul Simon, here in the Sonoran Desert there are only dry streambeds this time of year. It did rain briefly, however, on the Saturday, March 10, day one of the Tucson Festival of Books, but that didn’t seem to deter the over 100,000 book lovers there. (The Festival’s now the third largest in the country. ) When I’m not working at Wheatmark, one of the things I do is volunteer for the Festival on the Book & Author Committee, where this year I was responsible for inviting authors who work in, or write about, the movie industry. Of all the authors I invited, the one who drew the biggest crowds was not a journeyman author with fifty titles, but first-time author Jenna Fischer. You may remember Fischer for playing Pam Beesly on the acclaimed television show The Office, or from any number of movies or plays. Why did she draw these crowds? Because she’s a celebrity. Celebrity means platform. The crowds were proof of the power of platform. Interestingly, her book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, contains a lot of excellent practical advice about platform building, most of which is equally as applicable to writers as it is to actors. In the book, she discusses how long the journey usually is, and how key relentless networking with like-minded people is. That’s why every Wheatmark author who made an appearance at the Tucson Festival of Books (see page 3 of this newsletter) was doing exactly the right thing by being there. You can’t develop your author platform unless you get out there and get known among the community of writers and readers. One Wheatmark author who seems to know all of this instinctively is Mary Contini Gordon, author of Chiriaco Summit: Built by Love to Last in the Desert. She’s booking as many events as she can in as many venues as she can. I recently attended one of them at a local Barnes and Noble. Mary had a charming co-host, colorful photos and maps to pass around, and, most importantly, a bunch of fascinating stories to tell — all in service of getting the audience interested in Chiriaco Summit. It was great. Keep it up, Mary!
While writing this piece, I chanced upon a notice that Jenna Fischer will be at the LA Festival of Books on April 22 — not surprisingly, continuing to build her platform!