Everywhere I look on-line I read that an author needs a platform if he/she expects an agent or publisher to accept the writer or the work.

Now, I can see that if you have a published work to tout. A platform helps get the book the publicity it needs to be successful. The internet makes that relatively easy. If you have a ready-made platform, all your "friends" on FaceBook and elsewhere have supposedly been following you and should be anxious to see your book.

But what if you don't have a book to tout yet?

I've been struggling with that issue a lot lately. I have two books, one of which is probably ready for publication. But, without a platform is an agent/publisher willing to accept me or my book for publication? But how can I get a platform if I have nothing published yet?

Maybe someone can help me here. It seems like a dilemma to me.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012

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I got a message from a fellow writer today telling me she thought I should change the title of my first novel, "An Urge to Kill." She said: "In this killing world, many parent's may not agree with your title and you may be turning off some publishers."

Now, I think I have to agree with her. My only problem with that is I totally suck when it comes to creating titles. She gave me some suggestions: "The Merciless Bridge? Or maybe, Mark's Verdict? Or The Jeering Bridge? Or The Taunting Bridge? Or The Bridge of Ridicule? After all, this bridge keeps taunting Mark right?"

To me, none of those ideas capture the essence of my novel. Neither does "An Urge to Kill," for that matter. She said she likes my original title. But I'm not even sure I can remember what that was - I've given it so many titles over the past few years. Maybe she means "Bridge to Destiny," or "Sweet Revenge," or "The Bridge Beckons." Probably not "Sweet Revenge." That sounds too violent too.

Problem is, I've used all of them at one time or another to query agents. Would agents still remember them and think my novel is still that same piece of pulp that they rejected several years ago? I've made many changes to the novel. It's grown, matured if you will, thanks to my great critique partners at "Writer's Pen" in the "Authors by Design" writer's on-line forum. Maybe it's time to try out one of the old titles again. One that better suits the essence of the novel without giving away the plot.
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Now that Christmas and New Years are behind me, I think it's time to get back to novel writing. I have been working to make my first novel (now titled "An Urge to Kill") fit with my critique partner's suggestions. They suggested I cut out the first 3 or 4 chapters, beginning with my MC starting his first day in a new school, not remembering the accident that took his family's lives. He starts off offending the school's bully/screw-up and life continues to get worse as he begins remembering bits and pieces of the accident until he realizes it was caused by some driver who cut his family off, sending them veering into a gasoline tanker truck. He then vows to kill the person who caused his grief if he can find out who he is.

In my old version, I built up to the accident, showing the MC upset at his parents and sister because he wanted to spend Christmas Even with his friends and get a date with a girl he'd had a crush on for over a year. Then a speeding driver cuts them off.... When he wakes up in the hospital he doesn't remember the accident. Then at the funeral he vows to kill the person who caused it if he can find out who he is.

These versions are pretty much the same from when the MC starts school. I'm really struggling to decide which version I like best. Which one I should try to market.
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