Thursday, August 06, 2009


We're thrilled to have Sophie Littlefield as today's guest blogger. Welcome to Working Stiffs, Sophie!

Sophie Littlefield’s a recovering housewife from the California suburbs who wrote a whole lot of stories before creating Stella Hardesty, the middle-aged rural renegade heroine of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, which came out on August 4th. Her young adult novel BANISHED will be released next year from Delacorte - and just between us, there may be a zombie or two in that one.

There's been a lot of talk lately about author platforms and how they're really important, especially in today's crummy publishing climate.

The first time I heard the phrase 'author platform' I had no idea what it meant -- sounded like I was supposed to have an opinion about something - and to be honest, that worried me. Ever since I really buckled down on this whole full-time author gig, I've been content to let other, more-qualified people make the big decisions. Running the country? You have my proxy, Mr. O! How to fix the danged economy? Heck if I know - but I'm cheering for you guys, Mr. Bernanke! Bachelorette? Idol? Next Top Model? Seriously, whatever America decides is cool with me!

(Oddly, most of the time lately my strongest opinions have to do with highly processed food products, as in "fried Cheetos are just a hell of a lot tastier than Puffs" and "the best Diet Coke in town is at the Shell Station on Camino Tassajara" and "anything ordered off the secret menu at In-n-Out tastes seriously better." I think it's a result of malnutrition in these final weeks leading up to my book's release date, when I've been too busy to eat proper. Note that I said "mal"-nourished, not "under"-nourished. We are going through Pop Tarts and Luna bars and Sun Chips at an alarming rate.)

Anyway I was somewhat relieved to find out that an author's platform is really just a way of describing all the folks who have a special reason to be interested in your book.

For instance, if you're a professional hockey player, and you pen a romance between a puck manufacturer and a Zamboni driver, then your platform is hockey fans and players.

If you drive a Budweiser truck on your day job and your mystery series features a beer magnate turned amateur sleuth, your platform is brewskie aficionados everywhere.

If you're an undead high school cheerleader with 800 facebook friends, and you've written - hell, in that case, you could probably write a grocery list and sell it!

This is great news for all those folks with popular hobbies or media jobs or fancy pedigreed pets - they're selling tons of knitting mysteries and newscaster mysteries and bird mysteries these days - but when I took a long hard look at my book, I got kind of worried.

My character, Stella Hardesty, doesn't really have any hobbies - at least, any legal ones. (Oh, that reminds me, a word to the wise - inmate populations aren't really the kind of platform that publishers get super-excited about.) She's middle aged and cranky and broke. She doesn't dress well, her personal grooming's a little hit-or-miss, she spends her days off catching up on laundry and bills, and she doesn't have a boyfriend.

You wouldn't want her life, I'd wager. In fact, your life - if you are anything like me - has a little too much in common with Stella's, a little more often than you might like. Boring job. Financial stress. Love life doldrums. A few extra pounds --

Wait! Oh lordy, I just had the most brilliant thought. My platform is. . .me. You. Us. All of us ordinary hardworking Janes, just trying to get through the day with a sense of humor and a handful of Oreos. Our kids drive us nuts. Our Spanx get a workout. Our minds wander to the hot waiter at the falafel joint when we're supposed to be doing our taxes.

Right? Am I right? This might be the biggest platform of all time, sisters! The come-as-you-are, get-a-beer-from-the-fridge, take-a-load-off platform. Don't know if it will sell books. But it does surely feel like good company!

Watch the trailer for A Bad Day For Sorry:


Joyce said...

Welcome Sophie! I've been looking forward to this book ever since Janet Reid mentioned it on her blog.

You're right about your platform. I am one of the middle aged-cranky-few extra pounds women who will definitely buy your book. In another life, I could probably BE Stella.

(I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty of adding your book cover and trailer to your post.)

PatRemick said...

Welcome Sophie and congrats on publication! Sophie was a finalist
in last year's AL Blanchard short crime fiction contest and came from California to the New England Crime Bake to accept her award last fall. As one of the contest judges, I can tell you she's one talented woman and I loooved her story. Can't wait to read "A Bad Day for Sorry" and thanks, Sophie, for writing something for all us grab-a-beer-take-a-load-off folks in your platform!

Jennie Bentley said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, ITW Debut buddy of mine! Your book sounds like a lot of fun - I really enjoyed the excerpt - and the trailer rocks! Congratulations on the release!

Anonymous said...

Joyce, thanks for adding the trailer!

Sophie, thanks again for being our guest today. Can't wait to read "A Bad Day for Sorry."

Speaking of Crime Bake--anyone else going this year? I'm looking forward to it. My first time.

Paula Matter

Sophie Littlefield said...

Joyce, thank you so much! Clearly, you and I could share a desert island. :)

Sophie Littlefield said...

Awwww Pat - you are so sweet. I had the best time at CrimeBake, totally top-notch conference and I made some great friends there.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Jennie, just saying, *our* year is totally going to turn ITW upside down don't you think??

And Paula, I'm "in negotiations" to get to go back to Crimebake this year. My brother (the awesome Mike Wiecek, that's BFP - Blatant Family Promotion) will be there and I want to make it a mini-reunion again. the negotiations involve annoying things like budgets and carpools and that sort of nonsense...wish me luck :)

Anonymous said...

Sophie - as you well know I love this platform (though I didn't know that's what it was called!). Did I say love this platform? I meant live this platform. Didn't even know you knew what a Zamboni was, but I'm good for that one too. P.S. Love cheetos, hate oreos, and I'd rather get wine than beer from the fridge. Hope I'm still on the platform!

PatRemick said...

Don't miss Crime Bake this year -- I'm on the programming committee and it's going to be awesome -- same price as last year but even more being offered. One of the additions is a Hollywood agent with a great history of selling mysteries to -- yes, Hollywood!
Don't miss out on the early bird price, either!
Paula & Sophie (and everyone else I hope), look forward to seeing you there!