January 15, 2007


Moleskines - if you're a writer, you gotta have one. According to moleskines.com, a moleskine "is the legendary notebook, used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin." (Yes, I agree - I never thought of Hemingway as a European artist....)

Wikipedia has a nice history of the notebook, which is currently manufactered in Italy by Modo & Modo since the original manufacturer, Tours, went out of business in 1986.

From the Modo & Modo site, "...in Ernest Hemingway's memoir, Moveable Feast, he chronicles Paris in the 1920s just after World War I while spending time writing in various Paris cafés. Hemingway reflects on the quintessential moments ordering a cafe au lait and pulling out his notebook and pencil from his pocket to start writing. It is this simple ritual that he describes so well. That comfortable feeling, when even in the mist of a bustling café that one can immerse oneself into thoughtful prose or a delicate sketch. During this time in Paris, Hemingway apparently had also been working on The Sun Also Rises using his trusted Moleskine. Not a surprising notion to those that have come to know and love Moleskine."

For how people are using their moleskines, check out Moleskinerie.com.

How to Write A Book Proposal - 2 (the Platform)

A relatively new publishing concept is the writer's platform. Publishers are looking for writers who have established outlets to promote the book they've written: this can be a website, a newsletter, or a known reputation in their community outside of being a writer. Other examples include writing a syndicated column, giving speeches, being a well-known blogger, and hosting or regularly appearing as an expert on a local radio show. Synergy is the industry word used to describe how this platform works together with other marketing avenues to promote the book.

Writers are responsible for their platform: it's one more thing to build alongside that book proposal. According to Scott Mendel, your book proposal is premature if your platform isn't ready to go. Mendel advises:

"If your description of your platform strikes even you as slight, this is probably a sign that you have put the cart before the horse. In this case you should spend more time and resources building your platform before circulating your book proposal for the simple reason that, even if an editor falls in love with your book and convinces her colleagues to publish it, the most likely scenario for your book would be a small advance, and a quiet launch with very modest resources for promotion and publicity, resulting in part in unimpressive sales. Such mediocre or poor sales will be an albatross around your neck the next time you want to circulate a book proposal for another book. They will deflate the perceived value of your future projects, and could trap you as a so-called mid-list author when what you may want to be is a front-list bestseller. Unfair? Maybe. But today’s market-driven nonfiction publishing is driven by sales and inventory numbers available to almost everyone in the book business."

One example of a platform? Read Jenna Glatzer's story of building AbsoluteWrite.com and how it helped her reach #4 on the Amazon.com charts. Another platform? Attorney/blogger Glenn Greenwald hit #1 on Amazon.com after he posted about his new book on his blog, Unclaimed Territory.

Sources: www.wordsmitten.com (interview with Katherine Sands); www.forewordmagazine.com (article by Patti Dickenson); www.backspace.org (article by Scott Mendel); ChurchoftheCustomer (post, 10 Things About Writing Your First Business Book by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba); Seth Godin's 19 Tips for Authors.