If you're interested in making substantial and immediate headway into gaining exposure and what agents and publishers term a "platform," then the Internet should be your weapon of choice.
Here are just two stories making headlines this week that illustrate the power of the Internet.
A recent commentary on Forbes.com by Sramana Mitra reported that Elle Newmark, 56, a former advertising professional who had gone through four different agents on four separate book projects, decided that she "didn't have time for this anymore" and self-published her new book, a historical novel. Once the book came out, she "looked to the Internet to build a readership." Newmark decided to throw a virtual book launch party and sent out 500,000 email invites to agents, editors and reviewers. (The article did not say how she did this without spamming, but that must be another story.) The result? Her book became an Amazon bestseller the day of the virtual book launch, and she secured a William Morris agent and a contract with Simon & Schuster within two weeks.
If you're thinking that Newmark was an advertising exec who probably had a lot of insider friends and experience with Internet marketing, consider the story of Jeff Rivera, as told to Jim Kukral.com via a podcast on Kukral's blog.
Rivera, with no writing or marketing experience, self-published his book and set his mind to building a readership via the Internet. He googled three words that described his target audience and discovered bulletin boards where his potential readers would talk to each other. He joined the discussion groups and with only an email signature, jpeg of his book cover and a link to his website, he was able to drive so much traffic to his site, he convinced an agent and publisher that he had a strong enough following (platform) to ensure a successful book.
A few years ago, I attended a Mystery Writers local chapter meeting and met MJ Rose, the first author to use the Internet to successfully market her self-published book and garner an agent and publisher. She used the same strategy, but she did it by chance. Shortly after she published her book, she adopted a puppy and was having difficulty housebreaking him. She joined an online group for new dog owners and used her name and book title in her email signature. One day, someone asked about it and the rest is history. Rose is considered the poster girl of Internet marketing. Check out her blog, too.
In her commentary for Forbes, Mitra observed, "The trend also tells me that in today's world, aspiring authors stand a higher chance of success if they take more of their destiny in their own hands... Indeed, rules of engagement with agents and publishers are changing because of the power of print-on-demand and online marketing, and in that changing landscape, authors need to reinvent themselves as Internet entrepreneurs."
But you read it here first.