Creating a Platform & Selling Books

One author turned her cancelled wedding into a successful book and a new career. Another author's platform - almost publicity-free - has made him one of the most well-known experts in his field after ten books in only seven years. How did they do it?

Take a look at how Rachel Safier and Carl McColman created their platforms.


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Creating a Platform & Selling Books

How two authors created platforms that didn't depend on tons of publicity.
Rachel Safier, author of There Goes the Bride: Making Up Your Mind, Calling it Off and Moving On (Jossey-Bass, 2003) and Mr. Right Now: When Dating is Better Than Saying "I Do" (Jossey-Bass, 2004).

In the spring of 2001, Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer Rachel Safier and her fiancé broke off their engagement only two weeks before their wedding. She looked around for a book that could help her deal with the emotions and the logistics of a cancelled wedding, but found nothing, so she decided to write it herself.

“I started writing the book two days after we called it off,” Safier recalls. “I found writing it the most cathartic thing.”

Publicity was never part of Safier’s platform, only her book promotion.

Calling upon her research, interviewing, and writing skills, Safier included her own experiences, those of dozens of other “almost brides,” and plenty of emotional and logistical advice from experts as well as women who had been through the challenges of a cancelled wedding.

Would there be a market for her book? You bet. According to Safier, 20% of all engagements and weddings in the U.S. are called off every year. That’s 500,000!

There Goes the Bride: Making Up Your Mind, Calling it Off and Moving On is that rare thing in today’s publishing world: a book for an un-tapped market. Jossey-Bass promoted the book knowing that the media would welcome something new and useful. Safier wouldn’t be competing for press attention with other authors who’d written similar books because Safier was the only one out there promoting a book for almost brides.

Through national TV appearances, plenty of newspaper and magazine articles around the country, and Internet promotion on wedding-planning sites, Safier and her publisher spread the word.

The book did so well that Safier followed it with Mr. Right Now: When Dating is Better Than Saying "I Do", which Jossey-Bass published in 2004.

Carl McColman, author of:

  • Spirituality: Where Body and Soul Encounter the Sacred (North Star Publications, 1997)
  • The Aspiring Mystic: Practical Steps for Spiritual Seekers (Adams Media, 2000)
  • Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity (Fair Winds Press/Rockport, 2001)
  • The Well-Read Witch: Essential Books for Your Magickal Library (New Page Books/Career Press, 2002)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Paganism (Alpha Press/Penguin, 2002)
  • When Someone You Love Is Wiccan: A Guide to Witchcraft and Paganism for Concerned Friends, Nervous Parents, and Curious Co-Workers (New Page Books/Career Press, 2003)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom (Alpha Press/Penguin, 2003)
  • Before You Cast a Spell: Understanding the Power of Magic (New Page Books/Career Press, 2004)
  • 366 Celt: Year And A Day Of Celtic Wisdom And Lore (Thorson/HarperCollins, 2005)
  • Magic Of The Celtic Gods And Goddesses: A Guide To Their Spiritual Power, Healing Energies, And Mystical Joy (New Page Books/Career Press, 2005)
  • Award-winning, critically acclaimed author and independent Celtic scholar Carl McColman has created a platform and promoted his books without relying on publicity and the media.

    ”Write for your community,” he advises. “Identify who your community is – who your readers are – and then write for them. The average person on the street doesn’t know who I am, but the average Pagan does.”

    How has he reached them?

    “Through the Internet, through appearances at events sponsored by Pagans and Wiccans, at festivals and gatherings,” he explains. “I speak at Unitarian churches with Pagan groups, I give classes at bookstores and at colleges. I don’t do marketing in the sense of spending big bucks. I do marketing in the sense of staying plugged into my community.”

    McColman writes articles for Pagan and Celtic spirituality publications. He led a tour of Ireland in 2003, and will lead another one early next year. He has his own email newsletter, and he just started a blog.

    “Part of it is believing in your message so much that you’re willing to talk about your message,” he says, adding that he writes books for one of the fastest growing markets in publishing. “I have a growing community of potential readers. There are more Pagans now than in 1990, so publishers want more Pagan books. Independent publishers are more willing to support authors who aren’t household names, and are more willing to help develop your career. I also get independent retailer support. They push the books. They call and ask me to come do signings. Get to know the retailers. They’re not just merchants, they’re dedicated book people and they’ll support you.”