A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar for them, 'Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction.'

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.
  • By Victoria Mixon

    Dear Editor, So, when should I begin building my promotional platform?—Kathryn

    For fiction? Screw platform.

    Focus on your story.

    Donald Maass and Lisa Rector talked about this in our interview, pilule and what they said makes a lot of sense: the platform thing is a bit blown out of proportion regarding fiction.

    Some publishers are even writing articles now about the fact that online presence accounts for, actually, quite a small percentage of overall sales.

    You know what sells in fiction? A gripping idea that plugs into the collective social consciousness of a certain time and place. The Twilight books do not sell on the quality of the writing. They do not sell because Stephenie Meyer was all over the web before she started querying agents. They do not sell because vampires were a fresh and new take on love stories.

    They sell because she hit the right note between current popular genres in our culture—paranormal, specifically vampire, and romance—and a new angle—YA. And once she hit that note, she sustained it. She hasn’t tried anything new. She just keeps giving her readers what they expect. (I’m guessing she also got an agent in her corner who really knows the ropes.)

    Now, I don’t necessarily recommend trying to be Stephenie Meyer. I think she should learn her craft. But you can learn your craft AND do what she’s doing right, and then you’ll have published fiction to be proud of.

    What’s your novel? Mystery? Romance? Thriller? Fantasy? Sci fi? Horror? Historical? Adventure? As we’ve seen from the rise of romance in this time of economic catastrophe, love stories fit in pretty much anywhere. Everyone wants that little extra thrill. Mix romance with any of the other popular genres, ask yourself, “What is nobody else doing with this genre right now?” and use that as your jumping-off point for story.

    Then focus on your protagonist(s) and make them the most interesting, human, multi-faceted, deeply motivated character(s) you possibly can. Give them intense, overriding needs: finding love, fighting danger, restoring justice to an unjust world. They will tell you what their story is about.

    Create a rock-solid plotline out of that. An unexpected hook. Hair-raising conflicts and complications. A climax like electrocution. You know the drill.

    Then spend a long, long, long, loooooong time enjoying every minute of writing that story scene-by-scene, development-by-development. Luxuriate in it. Wallow in it. Fill your mind with your imaginary universe, roll around in it, get it all over you.

    Forget about the life of a marketer.

    You’re not a marketer. You’re a writer.


    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


3 Responses to “Promoting fiction”

  1. Kathryn said on

    Damn right!

  2. Thank-you!!! I just stumbled upon your blog and this post was exactly what I needed today.

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been stressing about building my platform and it was sucking all the joy from my story loving life.

    Now I can get back to writing my novel, and leave the marketing to the experts. 🙂

  3. Thank you! You answered my question–I just had to switch “platform” for “social media and blogging.”


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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

TERISA GREEN, represented by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, forthcoming from Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I'm working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel, The Shoebox, and her up-coming The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.