The best way to build an author platform: Become famous

Sambuchino, Create Your Writer Platform

A few days ago, I downloaded Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino. I paid $9.99 for it as a Kindle book, by the way.

The “about the author” snippet on Amazon provides this information about Sambuchino.

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor for Writer’s Digest Books and edits the Guide to Literary Agents. He is the author of books such as Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Edition, and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.

About five years or so ago, I had the opportunity to hear Sambuchino speak at a writers conference and also visited with him for a few minutes.

It’s funny how things have changed in publishing in those short last five years.

Or maybe not.

For the most part advice about the world of publishing that was on the cutting edge of the industry five years ago is about as timely now as financial advice from planters in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the days before July 4, 1863.  For those of you who haven’t studied the American Civil War, I would tell you that the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 was the event that put the nail in coffin of the Confederacy.  Before that day, Mississippi was one of the richest states in the world.  After it, it became one of the poorest.

I do not mean to say Sambuchino’s book is dated.  It isn’t. But in it he treads with a foot in each world, the world of traditional publishing and the world outside it.

Chuck Sambuchino
Chuck Sambuchino

Sambuchino makes it clear from the get-go that the best way to have a strong author platform is simple.

Be famous.

Okay, I missed out on that one.

For the rest of us who are unknown writers, he provides a road map for author brand building.  In the final section of the book, he includes interviews with a number of authors that detail how each of them approached brand building.

The thing that really struck me, however, was not the famous versus non-famous problem, or the traditional publishing versus Indie books enigma.

What stuck out as I read the book was the other great divide that confronts authors who seek to build their brands.

Non-fiction versus fiction.

That’s the kicker.

Sambuchino devotes most of his time to information directed at authors of non-fiction.  This is not surprising for several reasons.  Non-fiction books make up a huge share of the print market and are the bread and butter of traditional publishing.

However, the last statistics I saw about eBooks indicated that about eighty percent of that market is fiction.

And therein lies the rub.

When you get right down to it one of the biggest unsolved problems in the new world of digital publishing is that no one yet knows the best way to build an author platform that will help authors of fiction sell books.

My guess is that Chuck Sambuchino would probably tell you the same thing.

I recommend Sambuchino’s book for writers who want to learn about brand building.  They will find useful information and some nuggets, for sure.  But if they are novelists they will also come away from the book still scratching their heads about the best way to proceed in these new waters.



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  • And I presume, with Chuck’s wisdom,the best way to build financial wealth is to start out rich.

  • jack43

    I suppose that it is too late for me to learn a new trade and become famous for it. Thus, fame may only come to me by murdering someone. Any candidates?

    • You can always “murder” someone with a Mont Blanc, Jack. Haven’t you heard? It’s mightier than a sword.”
      And you can purchase a samauri sword at the Earthbound store with no 3 day waiting period and no background check. You need neither to buy a pen.

  • Hmm…There are a lot of ways to become famous.
    I’m thinking O.J.Simpson and Michael Vick.
    No telling how many more shoes Nike has sold since Vick became so famous.
    Once again proving the point that, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

  • Christina Carson

    Funny, non-fiction is where I started out, and yet I never considered myself a writer then, just a good compiler of information. So I too was shocked when I went looking for agents and publishers with my first novel and saw how the industry was skewed to non-fiction, at that time with the split commonly being 75% non-fiction to 25% fiction. With non-fiction, people shop topics, so if an author picks a popular one and writes reasonably well, they get introduced to that reader population rather easily. With fiction, people shop authors, and there’s the rub for new writers.

    • I agree entirely, Christina. This is just another way eBooks have turned the world on its head. The whole eBook market is geared toward fiction and no one yet has learned the best strategy to make her work stand out in the burgeoning crowd.

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