Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
In THE TAVERNIER STONES, Stephen married his love of foreign travel –- he currently lives abroad in Germany -– with cryptology, cartography, and gemology. And to promote his book launch, Stephen incorporated those elements into an online, armchair Treasure Hunt… with the Grand Prize of a real life 1-carat diamond.
Back to our chat!
Stephen, if your publisher suddenly came up with $50K to support your next release, how would you want it spent?
Dramatically reduce the price of the book, or at least the first few thousand copies. Price is the greatest obstacle to impulse buying. I want my Kindle version, when it becomes available, to sell for $2.99. Less, if possible. I also want the Cubs to win the World Series.
I don't think my overseas residence has hampered me at all, because I'm as close to potential readers as anyone else with an internet connection. I keep hearing from friends who do book signings and spend three hours selling four copies. Nevertheless yes, I would go on tour, all over the country, coast to coast, in a camper van, for the sheer joy of it. I just wouldn't expect to finish the expedition in the black.
Valuable AND time suck, all of it. I spend about two hours a day online, or preparing something to post online. It gets in the way, no doubt about it. But my online friends, none of whom I've met face-to-face, came through for me when my book launched. And not just by purchasing copies. One example is author Mark Terry, who I'm sure you know. If not for him you wouldn't be interviewing me right now, if not for him I wouldn't have gotten my most recent review (at Bookgasm), if not for him I wouldn't even be published. And that's just Mark Terry. Social networking most certainly pays off.
Earlier I mentioned planting seeds. A pop star once told me her story (all right, there were 9,999 others present in the audience when she told it, but I felt as though she were speaking to me). She was a grade school teacher who wanted to be a singer. She made demo tapes (on cassette back then) and sent them everywhere. Naturally to record companies first, but eventually to anyone in the entertainment industry. Even Clint Eastwood.
Turns out Eastwood was making a movie and needed some background
music for a particular scene. The
movie was "Play Misty For Me" and the song on the cassette was
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Roberta Flack went on to become one of the most popular
recording artists of the seventies.
And no, I don't buy the argument that such events are extraordinary and rare. I think they're commonplace. We might not know what the mechanism was, but every success story in the entertainment industry, publishing included, contains at least one instance of a seed finding its way to fertile ground.
You have a blog and a microsite around your contest, but not a traditional author homepage. Is that something you plan to create in the future? Or for your next book release, do you plan to create another unique, themed microsite?
I don't know what the answer to the second question is. As for the first, oh yes, once I can afford it I'd like a website people talk about. Something that would qualify as a "single, bold stroke." Remember Miranda July's site, in which she used the top of her refrigerator like a white board? Suddenly everyone knew who Miranda July was.
Do you feel like the Internet – and blogs like “Newbie’s Guide To Publishing” – gave you a leg up before you ever got published? Any big surprises in the process after becoming a first time author? Do you feel like you now have an honorary marketing degree?
Joe Konrath should be nominated for sainthood. Miss Snark too. Both lent me a virtual hand when I was floundering. The big surprise after becoming a first-time author was the depression I had to overcome in the weeks following publication. I wonder if others experience it and just don't talk about it.
Something I'd like to suggest, before we close, is that a good cover is more important than the industry seems to realize. We don't like to admit that we judge books by their covers, but we do. A striking cover will make a reader pluck the book off the shelf, read the jacket copy, maybe sample a page or two. A striking cover will place a book at the head of the line. If publishers are looking for ways to increase sales, I suggest they hire very talented graphic designers and give them a single mandate: "Make it breathtaking."
As for the honorary marketing degree, no, I feel dumber than ever. And ready to make even more mistakes than before.
Thanks again for the time, Stephen! Now where did you say I could find that hidden diamond??
Gregory Huffstutter has been punching Ad Agency timecards for over a dozen years, working on accounts like McDonald's, KIA Motors, Suzuki Automotive, AAA, and the San Diego Padres. His first mystery, KATZ CRADLE is on submission while he's working on the sequel. The first 100 pages of his novel are linked here. For general advertising questions, leave a comment or send e-mail to katz @ gregoryhuffstutter dot com with 'Ask The Ad Man' in the subject line.