Are you a mega-engine? (When “platform” is not enough.)

11 October, 2012

I had lunch yesterday with one of my favorite editors, Rick Horgan at Crown.  Rick is not only one of the nicest guys on the planets and a brilliant editor, but he is also a genuinely deep thinker.  In my ongoing quest to find a book to sell to Rick, I asked him about what books he had acquired recently that really excited him. While I won’t share the details of these buys, what struck me was the following:

*Each of the books had a truly unique central question or thesis, what we call a “high concept.”

*Behind each book was someone who was high profile. But beyond that, these authors were engines, indeed mega-engines. They didn’t necessarily have author platforms in the traditional sense–frequent media presence, thousands of followers on social media, tons of speaking engagements, frequent blog posts or op eds.   These people were truly obsessive and in their quest to answer that burning question or test a hypothesis, they’d reached out to vast numbers of people, many of them very high profile, or organizations that were huge and had come on board to help to create and promote the book.  Somehow, these authors had created a tremendous momentum behind their idea and convinced movers and shakers who were much more powerful than the authors themselves.

So my challenge now is to seek out a mega-engine of my very own, not simply a well-credentialed author but one who can create a tsunami and prove it before the book is written.  It is never enough to say what you plan to do but you need to prove at the proposal stage that you’ve already set this thing in motion, that the thing is vast and that you and only you could conceptualize and execute it in this fashion.

It’s a tall order, but I am determined.  So, if you are a mega-engine (and by that, I don’t mean someone with an over-inflated ego and unrealistic expectations), I want to hear from you!

–Joelle Delbourgo