I’m often threatened with flying wine glasses when I dare to bring up the “P” word while sitting at the bar during writer’s conferences. Note to self: don’t say the “P” word in the bar. Ever.
What is the “P” word? Promotion. Now put down that glass! I’m tired of ducking from pouty chardonnay.
So I have this workshop on Promotion, and it’s designed to help authors pull the elements from their books, or their lives, that will help create a platform where none seems to exist. I had this one guy – blond, wavy hair, deep tan, who said “dude” a lot. His book was SF and his main characters were these two surfer dudes – a lot like him, I imagine. He had done the vanity press thang and wondered how to sell the book. After a quick lesson in how his book would never be on store shelves, we set about making him memorable. Talk about a tall order. How on earth could we make lemonade out of this lemon? SF? Surfer dudes? Oy, my ulcer…
We first looked at who he is. A surfer dude who’s been surfing at the same beach all his life. He’s well-known down there, so the first suggestion I made is that he set up a weenie roast on the beach and give away dogs and a free book to the first 50 surfers. Do this for the next few weekends.
I recommended that his next step should be to hit up the stores that are right next to the beach and see if they’d be willing to carry his book on consignment. After that, I recommended that he go the skate/surfer stores in the area and do the same thing. Since those stores know him, I felt pretty sure they’d be willing to do this.
Since he was from the same area as I, I was tickled pink to see an article in the local paper about his weenie roast and a book. He even ranked a nice little interview out of it. My sons told me they saw his book in the surf shops, and that copies had sold.
Now, will this guy sell a gazillion copies and be reviewed by the Los Angeles Times? Probably not. But I’m sure he sold a few hundred units, and it was based solely on his ability to find a clever, unique way to use the “P” word to his advantage. and make people aware of its existence. If this guy can find the perfect wave, then I’m betting anyone can. Duuuude.
Edited to add:
This guy went on to pimp his book in a fabulous way. He started promoting surfing as an affordable, fun way to get fit and stay healthy. The schools thought his was the perfect message for their students , and he launched a whole new level of promotion that got his book out to a much wider audience. Last I heard, he quit his waiter job and began doing this full time. All because of an idea.