A Productive Rant About Building An Author Platform

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

How do writers in general, but particularly late-life writers, establish an author platform? By “late life” I mean writers over sixty. By “author platform” I mean a soapbox that is slightly elevated above the crowd and that allows authors to shout to passersby that our books exist. That doesn’t mean the crowd will necessarily buy the book. But readers will certainly not buy a book if they don’t even know about it.

soap, handmade, bar

Imagine that your book is soap: attractively packaged, sweet-smelling and neatly wrapped in string. Now, you must figure out who would appreciate this particular kind of soap and how you will get it into their hands.
Image from Pixabay via Unsplash

The instant a book is published, it becomes a product. Authors must shift gears. The book no longer represents the author’s hopes and dreams for a life of the mind. The book, with its bar code and ISBN number, has morphed into a bar of soap. We must sell the yellow bar of Dial or the smooth and creamy Dove.

How Did We Go From Being Authors to Being Soap-Sellers?

My journey is typical of many men and women who’ve had other careers, raised children, and finally found time in their fifties, sixties, and seventies to finish a book. In my long-ago youth, I was a carpenter, remodeling contractor, and building magazine editor. I fit the writing in whenever I could. But, when my last kid graduated from college, my husband I scaled back our expenses, and I did what I’d always wanted to do. I returned to the creative endeavors that fed my soul.

As I had done with everything else in my life, I threw myself into this second career. I applied for fellowships, attended writing conferences, pitched agents, sent queries, had agents ask for