Tag Archives: publicity

Oprah, Oprah, where are thou?

Man, I love my friends, family, and readers. They are very supportive. Since I’m like every other author out there, struggling to build awareness, they think Oprah is the answer to all of my problems.

They feel I’m just one phone call away from stardom. One phone call from Oprah to highlight my book before I start signing movie deals and counting huge amounts of cash. When I tell them that there are a million books published each year, and other authors hear the same things, they pooh-pooh my realism and tell me to think positively.

But Oprah still hasn’t called yet. No invite to her show. No multimillion dollar contract. She hasn’t magically sensed my novel on the market and felt a strong compulsion to fulfill my dreams of fame and fortune. What’s her problem?

My friends and readers say “Send your book to her! She’ll read it. You never know!”

I try not to chuckle when I hear that. Oprah must have warehouses full of unrequested books that people throw her way. Besides, I’ve never known her to highlight my genre, which is murder mystery. If I’m putting all my hopes into a magical discovery that happens all of a sudden, I’ll probably be disappointed.

We live in a culture that highlights those who reach the pinnacle of success or luck. From the Powerball lottery winners to the young woman who wins American Idol, we’re inundated with these stories. Yet, they are just one in a million. Maybe one in several hundred million. However, people see these folks and believe that anyone can do it, too.

What we don’t see are the people who work hard and keep striving despite seeing any visible signs of progress. We don’t see the little things they have to stick to, day in and day out, to reach their goals. So we get lulled into that belief that we can get those miracle finishes without much difficulty.

Promoting a book certainly falls in the ‘difficult’ category, especially when I don’t have $3,000 a month to spend on promotion. Yes, several PR companies specializing in book promotion quoted a price of over three grand per month to promote my book. Maybe if I had that kind of money, I wouldn’t need to worry about promoting my book to increase sales. So when my optimistic friends and readers tell me to call Oprah, I smile, say ‘sure!’, and keep it moving. Like most authors out there, I have to do this the hard way.

That’s not to say I won’t break Olympic records running to my phone if Oprah’s name pops up on my caller ID. I just won’t expect it to be that easy. I need to keep things simple and start with easier tasks before I get that invite to Chicago. Like writing five or six bestsellers first. Easy enough, right?

Then I won’t have to worry about Oprah and get upset because she hasn’t called me yet…

(yes, borrowed from Dave Chappelle and Comedy Central)

Will Write for Food (but if you’ve got extra publicity, I’ll take that, too)

Before I published my first book last month, every published author told me that writing the novel is the easy part. The hard part is promoting it. It hasn’t taken me long to see that. And it wasn’t a surprise; I knew that going in.

Although my non-writer friends say I can be discovered by Oprah or a big-time Hollywood producer (“you just never know”, they tell me), I don’t expect to get that phone call anytime soon. There are a million books published each year. Behind every one of those books is a writer like me, fighting to be noticed. We’re like addicts, searching for reviews, referrals, and publicity to give us that next high. So when I hear my friends’ optimistic musings, I just smile, thank them for their positive attitude, and go back to working on my promotions platform and continuing to build awareness one reader at a time. That’s the journey facing every writer or entrepreneur starting a business. We just want to get noticed.

But there is a powerful force that drowns out our voices. It’s insatiable. It’s unstoppable. And it’s intensifying every day. What is it?

It’s the proliferation of silliness, stupidity, scandalous behavior, and “rachetness” (or whatever you want to call it) in traditional and social media. People are now famous just for being famous or stupid. Broken English, talking ‘country’, or crazy slang has become the default way of speaking for people who should know better. Outrageous behavior is glorified. And when everyone is inundated with things screaming for attention, absurdity is what gets noticed.

We writers and entrepreneurs know it can take years of constant work to gain traction for our publicity efforts. We know this is a marathon, not a sprint. But when a silly video or Facebook meme goes viral in 15 minutes, I start wondering how we can make this unstoppable force work for us.

How about I post a video of someone in a thong, twerking with my book and reading my blog at the same time? That will get some publicity! Or what if a business owner creates a Facebook meme that shows someone screaming obscenities while using his product? Better yet, if he takes a screen shot of a real celebrity or a child actor and attributes some silly and obviously untrue quote to the person, people will toss and share that baby around like a Frisbee! Instant viral publicity!  

Luckily, I have a friend who is also trying to drum up awareness for her business. She is a voice of reason and talked me off the ledge. That’s why she’s good at what she does. I had to remind myself that we can’t forget our niche audience for the sake of getting fast eyeballs on our books or products. Good things are built over the long haul, not in 15 minutes. So I commit to building my platform the legitimate way, one reader at a time. No twerking, obscenities, or silly stuff for me.

I just tell myself to be patient and keep the faith over time.

Even if Oprah doesn’t call me in the next 10 minutes…