Two surfer dudes – promoting something from nothing


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.


11 Responses to Two surfer dudes – promoting something from nothing

  1. Aston West says:

    Indeed, promotion is key to success with any small press. (Lynn: well, it’s not just the small fries, Todd. The big presses are after the promotion plan as well. Especially these days)

  2. The advice I’ve seen on promotion and platforms is so general that it could apply to anyone–which means us “newbies” all seem to be following the same route. For example, lately the forumites have been chatting about building a platform by blogging, and many of us aspiring authors have started one. Yet the number of visitors to most of the blogs I look at are so small that I’d hardly consider it worth listing as part of a platform.

    Since my novel is about a woman with night terrors, I suppose I could wear my pj’s everywhere I go as part of my promotion, but it seems kind of silly…and people would probably just think I was trying to look like a high school girl. (or is it only the girls at my daughter’s school that do that?)

  3. lynnpricewrites says:

    Carol, blogging is just one of the ingredients to baking a promotional cake. Like you’ve already discovered, blogs are really hard to feed out into the internet community, and you need to have a presence and a lot of time to make that blog work for you. It’s not a matter of “if you write it, they will come.” You gotta let people know it’s there and fill it with stuff people want to read.

    For example, your book is about a woman with night terrors. On the face of it, that sounds pretty slim, so I’m sure your story has a lot more depth than this. This is where I teach authors to go – to that depth – when working up a promo plan.

    I was giving a seminar down in San Diego last weekend, and was talking about this very issue. A woman at the back had a “ding” moment where the light bulb suddenly turned on. She realized that her novel was very germane to her job as a college prof. and could use it in her class. If she can use it in her class, then dollars to doughnuts, she can apply this to colleges all around the country. Even though it’s fiction.

    While wearing jammies is a cute hook at an author event, you need that audience to click into your message. If you want, we could use you as a guinea pig on creating a promo plan on this blog as an example of trying to create something from nothing. Feeling gutsy?

    Again, the idea is to show an agent or editor that you understand the importance of promotion, and it doesn’t matter if your publisher is a small fry like us or Random House. Everyone understands the value of author participation – especially in this economy.

  4. “If you want, we could use you as a guinea pig on creating a promo plan on this blog as an example of trying to create something from nothing. Feeling gutsy?”

    Ha! I had a guinea pig for a while. She was messy but a lot of fun. I’d love to be “promoted.” (Lynn: Alrighty then. Heh, heh. Email me ( and tell me about your book and your background. We’ll discuss, and then I’ll blog about it. You good with that?)

  5. Hmmmm, the “Heh, Heh” makes me think you might be planning something more embarrassing than jammies…but Ok, I’ll do it. I can always change my name if I’m too humiliated by the experience. I’ll need an hour or so to convince my husband I’m really working hard on our income taxes, then I’ll send you the dirt on me and my novel.

  6. lynnpricewrites says:

    Nope. I would never do anything embarrassing. Ever. It’s an honest effort at helping the thousands of authors out there like you who are confused as to how to bake a better cake with seemingly few ingredients. No pressure, tho. My offer was just an “if you want to” thang. I more than understand your nervousness.

  7. Oh, I’m not nervous. I appreciate any and all suggestions, and realize that I’m responsible for taking or leaving any of them. I’m pasting my info into an email almost simultaneously to typing this, so have at it. And thank you for being so generous with your help and support.

  8. That sounds really generous, Lynn. Be careful, though, or all we obscure writers will all be banging on your door demanding your wisdom and expertise. (Lynn: no worries, Sally, I know how to just say no. It’s usually wrapped around a, “I will if you pay my next-month’s mortgage.”)

  9. john says:

    that’s life …..what goes around comes around…!!!

  10. Actually, I’d read the hell out of a sci-fi novel about surfers, provided it was well written. It’s always nice to see new characters and settings.

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