Pose for the paparazzi. Autograph your books.
Write like a dream, promote like a rock star.
Fame and fortune are yours!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Developing a marketing mindset

Imagine the scene: A crazy friend of mine (let's call him Jody) says I'm too nice, too traditional about marketing my books. He has shamed me into being more bold, so I'm standing across the street from Harpo Studios in Chicago with the ridiculous goal of getting on the Oprah show. I'm hoping to talk to a producer or cleaning lady about my book, Black-Eyed Peas for the Soul

I would like to become an overnight sensation, please.

Authors often complain that they receive too little marketing support from their publishers. I must actually thank Simon & Schuster, because at least they did book 20 or so radio interviews to promote Black-Eyed Peas

But if I wanted to get on the Oprah show or at least get a mention in her book club, I was on my own.

As we wait outside Oprah's studio, Jody berates me for being too shy about self-promotion. He says, "You're too nice. If I could write a book, I'd be on the rooftop shouting. I'd be stopping traffic. I'd be rolling around in the grass." I wasn't sure how rolling around in the grass would sell books, but I did get his point. I needed to be less shy, more bold.

Eventually someone walks out of the building, and with Jody egging me on, I ambush the poor soul. 

"Do you work for the Oprah show?" I smile so hopefully I don't look like a stalker. Warily he looks me up and down. He says he works for the show as a freelance something or other.

Great! I launch into my pitch about how inspirational and positive Black-Eyed Peas is, and you know, that's what Oprah's all about, and would he consider reviewing it for the show, or would he give it to a producer please?

"We're not supposed to do this," he said, but he took my book and press kit and stuffed them into his army duffel bag. I was shocked, not only because he talked to me but because he actually took my book. He actually looked at the book cover.

Never for a moment did I think this stunt would work, and it didn't. Maybe I should have been more positive for the Law of Attraction to take effect. 

I don't look at the failure to book Oprah as a fail in general, though. After a divorce and a string of bad luck with men (read Sensual Celibacy), I've gotten pretty good at handling rejection. For some strange reason I was happy. No, I didn't get the big hit, but it did chip away at the shyness and self-doubt I experience from time to time. Jody forced me out of my comfort zone.

Like many writers, by nature I'm a loner and a little shy. My comfort zone is the computer. Which is why I love being the Editor to the Stars!. When it comes to self-promotion, my stars are fearless, they're bold, and they're creative. Developing these traits is helping me build my own business.

I could give you the top 5 marketing strategies or 7 tips for publicity seekers. Today I only have 3 tips, and you should BE them RIGHT NOW.

1: Be BOLD.

Jody was right. Shy, nice, traditional marketing doesn't work, and the publishing industry has been stuck on that page for way too long. 

As more nontraditional, entrepreneurial writing stars enter the arena, marketing is becoming more inventive, more aggressive, more guerrilla-like, to use Jay Conrad Levinson's term. This is what The Celebrity Editor is all about. Check out this article on the marketing of Jay-Z's new book here and Danielle Steel's author branding here.

Today be creative. Fearlessly promote yourself. Be bold!

Do not procrastinate. Do it today!

Donna Marie

p.s. I just remembered how I got my first publishing job, and this occurred before the Oprah non-incident. I wanted to work as an editor for Third World Press, and I heard that Haki Madhubuti, founder and publisher, was doing a book signing. I went to the signing, bought his book, and asked him to sign it, which he did. Then I gave him my resume. He looked at me for the first time and actually read my resume on the spot. He said, "I think we may need you." I got the job a couple of weeks later! The seeds of boldness, fearlessness, and creativity were within all along!!


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