If you were to have your picture on a magazine cover, what would the headlines say?
Designing my fake magazine cover was the assignment recently for a platform-building workshop I’m taking (“Platform” is writer jargon for how to make yourself a household name). I thought it would be fun, but it was mostly frustrating, not only because of the technical challenges—no, that’s not the size I wanted the photo to be! Wait, where did my headlines go?—but because I couldn’t boil myself down to one or even two topics.
Writer or not, I invite you to try it. Definite yourself in one meaty sentence? XXX is the one who ___________________________.
As a reporter, I liked to write about everything. I loved the variety. I still write about many different topics. See my website. But in the book world, folks want to pin you to one thing. I’m the childless writer. I’m the Portuguese writer. I’m the writer who helps other writers. I’m the poet, the memoirist, the novelist, the essayist, the blogger. I’m the dog mom. I’m the musician.
Trying to cover all these different areas might explain why I fall asleep in front of the TV when I finally give up trying to work. But how do I make one platform that will hold everything? If my feet are on 10 different pieces of wood—wait, I don’t have 10 feet. If I’m rowing in 10 different directions, I’ll never get anywhere. But every direction is just as important to me. Can I just call myself “diversified” or do I need to find a central, defining stream that will carry me to glory? You know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket.
Maybe I’m like a star radiating out in all directions. I’m the hot burning center. That sounds too egotistical. But what is the central thread that I can share with the reading world? What is my brand?
Writer. Troubador. Communicator. How about . . . truth-teller?
How about the representative for . . . 70-year-old, childless, widowed, Portuguese-Basque-Spanish-Mexican-German American, Catholic, left-handed, arthritic, nearsighted, hearing-impaired, pastry-addicted San Francisco Bay Area natives living on the Oregon coast, writer-musician-dog moms?
That doesn’t fit on a magazine cover. I’m not even sure it would fit in a Twitter tweet.
The photo here is not great quality because I took a picture of it on my computer screen. I tried two different websites and both let me design a whole cover, then asked me sign up for a membership before I could keep it as my own. I don’t plan to make a career of designing magazine covers, especially ones with my face plastered all over it. Who does that?
Well, Oprah Winfrey has an actual magazine with her name and face on the cover. It recently ended its print version, but it’s still publishing online. Nobody pins Oprah to one subject, do they? Her brand is “Oprah!”
Then we have Martha Stewart, whose name is synonymous with a lot of things. Cooking, stationery, sheets and towels, jail . . .
Imagine if we all published magazines with our names on them, and they were lined up on a shelf at the grocery store. Sue, Oprah, George, Mike, Pete, Martha, Angelina . . .
We are each the hot shining star of our own universe, but readers are likely to skip to the next shelf for the latest recipes, celebrity news, or sports updates. News you can use, as we used to say back at the Milpitas Post in the 1970s when I was just a reporter and newlywed who sang in a choir. It was easy to define who I was then, back in the days when platforms were made out of wood.
May I’m just a “well-rounded person.”
A little too well-rounded, my doctor might say.
If you were to design your own magazine cover, what would be on it? What photo would represent you the way you want people to see you? What would the headlines say? Try it, using one of the websites below or an app on your phone or tablet. If you find a no-strings program, let me know.
Share if you can. It’s fun and much easier than Wordle (where my score was 100 percent until Sunday’s word shorted out my brain (It was “tacit”).
If you have Apple products, try this: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/cover-me-your-fake-popular-magazine-cover-maker/id842425115
Annie and I went back to the vet last week. She got her last three stitches removed. The wound is doing so well she should be cone-free by Friday. BUT, she tore her cornea slightly poking her face into the bushes and now we’re on a regime of eye drops that she truly hates. That will heal, too. She is rapidly approaching 100 “reactions” on Facebook to the picture I posted last week on her 14th birthday. She’s 98 years old in dog years.
Annie deserves her own magazine cover.