Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Message that Bears Repeating

A number of months ago I posted an entry about the bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, and how she managed to sell over a million books. If you are new to us, please take a look at that post, but here are the cliff notes. Liz Gilbert had no behemoth, strategic marketing plan-- she wanted to write a book for her friend Darcy that was going through a hard time. She wanted to reach one reader, and write the best book she could for her. Instead, she has touched the lives of millions of people through her work. And, um, made some serious dough-re-mi.

I've been reading Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of NOW, that has sold in excess of two million copies. It has been number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. His first print run in 1997 was three thousand copies. Hear that? Just three measly thousand. The book was published by Namaste Publishing in Vancouver, which is NOT an imprint of Random House. Just fyi. During its first year of publication, the book found readers primarily through word of mouth. Don't believe the man had rack cards, posters, glittery pencils, or a blog, but I could be wrong.

What he did was personally deliver a few copies every week to some small bookstores in Vancouver. That was the marketing plan. Gee, what a concept! Start in your own neighborhood. Meet your booksellers. I believe we may have suggested that once or twice here. :-) Then, his friends got on board and started placing copies in spiritual bookstores further out from Vancouver-- Calgary, Seattle, California, London. By the second year, The Power of Now had become an underground bestseller. It started getting favorable reviews in a number of journals and magazines. Its growth continued to climb until Midas, I mean, Oprah got her mitts on it. The book exploded after that.

Eckhart's strategic marketing plan? To get the book into the hands of some readers with the hope that it might transform their lives. He had two passions-- one, to live fully in the Now, and two, to share that concept with others.

Liz Gilbert's and Eckhart Tolle's story of success with their books are extraordinary, and this is not going to happen to every book that is published. However, it can happen and I challenge you each to open yourself up to that possibility. And to take the wisdom from their experience. Write for the reader that you want to reach. Put your heart and soul and expertise into that

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, another book that has exploded in the marketplace said that the best marketing advice she ever got was from an editor at Playboy magazine. He told her never to write to the "common reader," but instead to write to the reader that you aspire to capture. Don't write down. Don't write to the market. Write to your best reader.

Here at SVP, we will continue our shared mission with you to navigate the rapids of marketing for introverts, but now and then we want to stop to remind you of the wisdom of inspirational speaker Stephen Covey-- First things first.

Go write to your readers, friends-- and trust that it is the very most important thing you can do.

Grace and peace,
Mary Hershey


Yat-Yee said...

Good advice.

BTW, I own both The Artist's Way and The Power of Now. It's revealing to read of their reasons for their books.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm getting to do that on this project--maybe I need to check out some of those books!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Thank you, Mary, for saving my bacon today. And in (further) proof that the Universe is a wonderful and mysterious place, you posted the EXACT thing I needed to hear tonight.


Shari Green said...

Great post, Mary. Thanks!

Mary Hershey said...

You are ever so welcome, Robin-- anytime I can save your proverbial bacon is a GOOD day for me.

Hi, Shari, Becky & Yat-Yee!

Mary Hershey

tanita✿davis said...

"Write to your best reader" is still advice that resonates; this is such a great piece, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Thanks!