Notes from Candice Ransom

Platform for a Ghost



Recently I signed up for a webinar on creating an author platform and developing an author brand. This was an attempt to tether me to the real world, which has sped up and left me in the dust.

The first part of the webinar focused on websites. I already have a website. I had one back in 1998, set  up by my husband. I only remember it featured black and pink and there may have been a pig in the banner. Since then, I’ve designed my website at least five times, first relying on someone who worked in IT at a local college, now currently working with a professional web developer.

But the webinar facilitator said we should have a video on our home page, something attention-grabbing. A video of me doing . . . I’m not sure. If not a video, then at least photos of me in action. There is no action in a writer’s life. Just reading and typing. Extremely dull. My website is more than two years out of date. It’s on my list to update it, especially as I have a new novel out in June. My list of things to do, however, is very long.

I learned that my platform should introduce me to the world and be a place where people can find me. If you enter my name in Google, there are more than one million hits. I have a Wikipedia page that also needs updating (I didn’t put it up, so don’t blame me). I’m not that hard to find, worldwide web-wise. Still, I’ve become a ghost.

I didn’t used to be. But time has a way of sliding one quietly to the bottom, particularly those who aren’t on a ton of social media. The webinar facilitator—who reasonably stated that writers should stay within their comfort zones—listed seven social media formats she is on. However, she hires someone to handle and update all those accounts. Her platform works quite well.

She emphasized how we want others (meaning agents, editors, and teachers) to see us. I used to be fairly visible. I delivered keynote speeches at conferences, traveled for school visits and to give workshops, signed books at conventions. Kids used to come to my house to have me autograph their books. I spent weekends answering fan mail. Once, I was asked to be the Grand Marshall at a town Christmas parade (I turned them down). That was then.

This is now. I don’t have time for Threads, BlueSky, or, God forbid, TikTok. In the last four years I’ve dealt with covid, caregiving, death, covid, accidents, heart surgery, covid, and cancer. I barely have time to take a shower, much less track down book promo groups or start a podcast.

The only social media I enjoy is blogging and sadly I’ve let that go, too. I love writing photo essays. The act of writing helps me figure out things. I like pairing words with one of my off-beat photos. But apparently my blog should also be a tool to sell my books. In the webinar and in my publisher’s author portal classes, and everywhere I turn, really, the message is the same: buymybookbuymybook.

It’s very noisy out there.

In discussing brands, (like a platform only on steroids), the webinar facilitator asked participants what we wanted to be known for, ideally some kind of specialty. Such as a degree in biochemistry or teaching STEM/STEAM topics. My answer: I’m the author of 180 books for children and young adults in every format and genre. I’m 71 and have been writing books full-time for 42 years. I have no specialty for a brand—my career has been steady but like shrapnel.

What is not in that answer is who I really am—someone who has devoted her entire life to the field of children’s literature since the age of 15, more than 50 years. I love every aspect of the field: the stories, the art, the history.

At night, after a long day of errands, driving, emails, writing, sweeping up cat litter, laundry, dishes, throwing supper (often pitiful) on the table, feeding wild birds and tame cats (not the same thing), doctor’s appointments, pulling weeds, taxes, vacuuming, and worrying about our haunted toilet (it moans), I sit with a heating pad on my back and sink into a book from my private library. Something soothing, such as an illustrated mid-century storybook. Or thoughtful, such as the history of fairy tales. For one blessed hour away from devices, I become my non-YouTube-non-X-non-LinkedIn real self.

My platform is small, concrete, steadfast, and simple: the love of children’s books. Not flashy, not animated, not braggy. It will have to do.

It’s the platform of a ghost, someone on the periphery but still very much here.

3 thoughts on “Platform for a Ghost”

  1. “My platform is small, concrete, steadfast, and simple: the love of children’s books.” This is everything!

  2. We cannot be what we do not feel and still be authentic. Be you…regardless. It’s the only thing that fits.❤️

  3. Candice, I have always enjoyed reading your essays that connect to your history. There’s a thoughtfulness in your online writing that is often missing in the ‘fast fashion’ of other social media.


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