One of the participants in the Independent Authors Guild list on Yahoo said:
> There is one question that I think all indi authors have asked themselves. How do the big publishers do it. I understand that authors like Dan
> Brown and Rawling can sell 10 million copies on release day, but before that. I remember years ago stopping in the book isle at Wall-Mart. I
> picked up this book called “Deception Point” by Dan Brown. …… But? How did he get his first novel on that Wall-Mart shelf? No one
> had ever heard of Dan Brown before.
I hear the frustration people have in seeking to break even and make a profit writing all the time. Just want to share some experience, perspective and some ideas.
Many years ago, Dan Brown was a poor starving author and an English teacher and his wife Blythe were struggling, seeking to achieve success and sales with his fiction writing. They hired me back in the days when I operated a business called Imediafax (we used to send one page faxes to media) and I worked for them to get publicity for the book Angels & Demons before Dan made it big with The Da Vinci Code. (If you have Angels and Demons on your shelf go and look, you’ll find my name in the acknowledgements).
Then as now, an author must first do his or her best and WRITE A GOOD BOOK. (That’s a separate question. But let’s just say, OK, you’ve written a good book.)
Then they must do their best to let the right people know that they have a good book. They must reach their target audience and entertain and educate them so that they are motivated to buy the book. Many authors don’t do this very well. Yet it’s crucial if you are to be successful. So I’m going to focus on this a little.
People’s needs haven’t really changed. Time and technologies have changed.
I think there are amazing opportunities for success in writing. In the US alone you have over 330 million people all of whom read, watch and listen to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and all sorts of Internet and electronic media and communications devices. We’re trained from birth and indoctrinated in how to use these technologies.
What’s more is we are biological organisms and have five senses and we respond to stimulation in predictable ways. We laugh at the same jokes, we cry at the same sad stories, and we get turn on by beautiful half naked people. What even more important is that we can be stimulated to buy things. The media and producers have figured out how to do this and you can too.
It’s pretty clear that you have the opportunity to do really well IF you figure out how to turn people on.
The challenge is that you need to learn how to turn YOUR people on.
And once you learn how to do that, THEN you can use all the available technologies to reach people and stimulate them to action.
BUT if you don’t figure out how to turn people on first, then no matter what technologies you use, you really won’t have the effect you seek.
So HOW do you turn people on? HOW do you turn media on? That’s the challenge.
At least in my continuing experience and a publicist, it doesn’t matter whether you write non-fiction or fiction. The media does not really care about the book. They care about what you do to their audience with what you ask them to publish (in an article or a review) or use on a show (in a feature or an interview). It has to be so good that it helps them sell more subscriptions and advertising. This is how they make their income and this is what you have to provide if you want them to use your content.
So if it’s not the book, what is it?
My Answer: It’s about the issues you can talk about! It’s about the emotional engagement and interest you can capture!
As a publicist, I see this again and again. You can see the proof of it day in and day out in the media you want to be in. The question is how do you do it?
You have maximum success turning people on by getting jazzed up and energized and spontaneously raving about the issues you write about. It’s when you and revved up and all fired up that you generate the energy and the intelligence that galvanizes people’s attention. It’s those moments when you are at your best.
That’s what you need to identify for your all promotional efforts. You will be most successful with media, when you offer them a show or an article with you doing what you do best. It need not be very long. It just has to be really good.
So if you’ve written a book and are seeking to get people to buy that book, keep on talking to people about your book and your writing. Pay close attention to what you say and do when you create maximum interest and turn people on. You can also find much of this information in the reviewer comments and testimonials that you receive from people who read your book. They’ll tell you very specifically what you wrote that turns them on.
But remember that you can’t use the description of the book or the feeling as a substitute for the real thing. When you do promotion, you must deliver the communication that actually produce the feelings that trigger the interest and action.
That is what you have to place into the communications you use. You must learn what you say and do and then capture and repeat that messages. This is not easy to do, when you realize that each medium of communications you choose to use has its own format requirements.
So focus on identifying what you say and do that turns people on. Capture it! Repeat it several times in various settings and circumstances and make sure that it produces the action that you want to happen (as in people get so interested that they buy your books).
Then you can reformat and use all the technologies you want to repeat that message. Like Dan Poynter says, write it once and sell it forever.