Friday, July 10, 2009

Selling Bottled Water in the Desert

What does it take to build a platform online? I look at blogs and I ask myself why one blog is successful and another isn't. I particular, I look at the blogs run by literary agents and I compare them to those run by authors. As a general rule, literary agents have blogs that have several times the followers that successful authors have. How do we explain this? There is a theory that as long as you write great posts, your blog will succeed. I won’t say that literary agents aren’t capable of writing great post, but if we are looking for someone who can write “great” posts, doesn’t is stand to reason that the typical bestselling writer should be able to write better posts than the typical literary agent? But the numbers don’t add up that way.

The reason this happens is fairly simple. Literary agents are doing what is essentially selling bottled water in the desert. If you’re out in the desert with a bunch of people, the guy selling bottle water is a popular guy. What literary agents have going for them is that they offer a glimmer of hope to the thousands (millions?) of authors out there who are hoping that someone will take an interest in their work. It is not unlike what we see with marketing gurus.  

There’s a fancy term for this, felt need. If you can address a need that a person knows he has, then you stand a better chance of attracting people. But we can’t all be literary agents or marketing gurus. We can’t all be the guy selling bottle water in the desert. So we end up being the guy selling sunscreen, which is more expensive to make, doesn’t sell in as high of volume and people have to be persuaded they need it.