Friday, August 14, 2009

Wizard of Oz

Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road on the rather unknown journey of trying to publish her book. On the way she meets three very supportive friends who give her the emotional grounding she needs to get where she’s going, but they all need something too… they are wandering lost, together, getting into all sorts of trouble. Dorothy… let’s call her Dorothy the Tart because it has a ring to it… awakens the Scarecrow and the Tin Man… gives them the boost they need to get going. And then gives the Cowardly Lion the spanking he so badly needed to set onto his path. Not bad for a day’s work. But she also gets her dog stolen by the Wicked Witch and falls asleep in the poppies, neither of which she could have resolved without the others… and still they wandered. Has the metaphor lost you? Finding the Wizard Those of us seeking publication are wandering a lost road, with no clue where to go and countless obstacles. We are all looking for the magic solution to our publishing problem. And last night I found the wizard. I ‘attended’ a telephone seminar on promoting your book. Now before anyone gets offended, just let me say… the Wizard may not have been magical, but he DID do a great service to Dorothy the Tart and all her friends. He showed them that within themselves they ALREADY had what they needed (except the Tin Man—he had to wear that dumb necklace). They had within themselves the resources to publish and promote their books—each and every one of them. DISCLAIMER: The seminar was focused largely on self-publication books, and self-help and non-fiction. I think anyone self-publishing self-help could probably benefit ENORMOUSLY from their plan (and the classes they were subtly trying to sell). But I am going to publish traditionally, and anyone who thinks self-help books are my thing, has not yet had an encounter with my healthy ego. The whole genre bugs me (mostly because it reminds me of my mother, but I digress). I have nothing at all against anyone who reads or writes them, but I am not likely to ever read or write one… so I was not the target market. First, the Necklace (aka: the useful thing I got that I didn’t have before) I learned a couple nuggets I HAD HAD NO CLUE about before. The whole focus of the seminar was on ‘holding an event for big one day sales’. Now I’m a marathoner, not a sprinter, so I didn’t really know why this was such a big deal, but HERE is what the big deal is. Best seller lists are generated every freaking day (the Amazon or Barnes & Noble lists) and if you are a best seller for any day, you get to CALL yourself a best seller FOREVER. So if you can do something to make yourself top those lists for just ONE day, you get that benefit, which has a whole bunch of trickle benefits, including generating the buzz to sell more books, and being an incentive to agents and publishers for future books. They recommended a massive promotional effort leading up to a one day event where people do ‘freebies’ with each purchased book only on that day—a good enough freebie to turn a fence-sitter into a buyer, and one that will cause ‘already planned on it’ purchasers to buy that day. They suggested ‘add-ons’ and approached it with ‘when people purchase through Amazon, then they can come back here and download this audio file, or that manual. While CONFLUENCE has no manual, I thought maybe I COULD create a set of maps or something. I know they won’t publish colored maps in the book, but it is something people might like to have, and I think there are three that would be appropriate—so something like that. (or an author-read first chapter?) Whatever the case, I thought it was a nice idea. They suggested directing it through the Amazon sales one day, and Barnes & Noble the next, so you can make TWO best seller lists… tricky, tricky… The Brain & Courage The things suggested to generate the buzz were things that I found myself alternately thinking “I’m doing that already” and “I don’t feel right about doing that.” Like the lion, some of it felt like insecure posturing, but more than that, it felt a little sleazy. I am thrilled with the idea of asking all my Facebook friends to share my promotional message with all THEIR friends—to email out the message to lists of appropriate people if they have them. What felt like it crossed the line for me was more a pyramid sales feeling of using each others lists more heavy handedly. I’m just not willing to give up my friends like that to merciless sales pitches, so I wouldn’t ask others to do it. If I can generate legitimate excitement and ask a favor, GREAT. If I am guaranteeing a return favor for a product I haven’t even seen yet… not so much. So… I suppose it was generally useful… definitely worth the price of free. But I am still looking for Glenda the Good Witch and those sparkly red shoes…


Joris said...

Sparkly red shoes I don't have, but I do have sparkly pink socks, does that count? :)

Personally I have always liked a good map... :)

Chary Johnson said...

I feel you. I would not want to give up my friends either. I am very leery of pyramid sales/ schemes since I was once a victim myself ( I was very young, 21). However, I don't see anything wrong with asking friends to get the word out that you have written a book and trying to get it published. I think its an excellent way of networking. Keep it up.

Good luck with the queries and getting an agent. I know you can do it, hon.