Why you need to be famous

November 1, 2009

The following is my column from my November Inspirer newsletter, now in its seventh year. To subscribe and pick up a copy of ’50 Steps to a Book in Your Hand’ please go to my website www.joparfitt.com

I often tell my students and clients that they need to be Googleable if they are to impress a publisher. I recommend that they start a blog, give talks, use social media tools and go the extra mile towards growing their network. Publishers are interested in authors with a following. If you self-publish you need an even bigger network if you are to sell your book once you have written it. You need to be famous in your field. A bit of a celebrity. Whichever route you take to market it is clear that the bigger your network the more chance there is that your contacts will buy your books. Let me tell you about two people who do this brilliantly.

Andrea Martins, founder of the fabulous free website ExpatWomen.com, flew here to the Netherlands this week from Kuala Lumpur. A long haul in many senses of the word, but one that she felt was worth the effort. Andrea came to attend, have a stand and present a workshop at the Expatica, I Am Not a Tourist fair in Amsterdam. I went along to present a workshop of my own and to help out on her stand. The fair was attended by thousands and we talked ourselves hoarse, and yes, it was worth it. As a result, hundreds of people signed up to Expatwomen, a website that supports and inspires women overseas with its success stories, features, reviews and its hugely popular confessions section. Andrea also keeps an active blog that she uses simply to ‘shout out’ about people she meets or things she learns along the way that she knows will interest her thousands of subscribers.

I only went to the fair to help out, but Andrea allowed me to take my marketing materials along and so I made some pretty decent connections myself. One of whom was the hugely inspiring Melody Biringer, who runs The Crave Company and publishes books about the things women crave in the major cities of the world. She came to Amsterdam from her usual home in Seattle, to bring the concept here. Melody attended my workshop on writing life stories and within minutes had taken out her iphone and sent a tweet to her followers about me. Melody has sent over 6000 tweets to her 2000 followers since she joined Twitter just over a year ago. But in addition, within hours she had posted a blog about what she learned at my workshop too. And tweeted about that, of course.

Sorry, have I lost you? Are you wondering what the point of this may be? It’s simple . . . Andrea and Melody are role models. They want to promote their businesses to as many people as possible, use every means they can and their effort pays dividends. As a result both are well known in their fields. Let me just remind you what it is they do to deserve such status:

Ten Steps to Celebrity Status

1. Attend an expo or conference
2. Run a workshop at said expo or conference
3. Find places to hand out marketing materials
4. Have a website
5. Keep a blog
6. Use Twitter and other social media tools and share stuff regularly
7. Network like crazy both on and offline, talk yourself hoarse
8. Travel if you have to
9. Offer something that people want to sign up to
10. Share what you have with others

But do you really need to be famous if you want to write a book? Isn’t that a bit over the top? No, it isn’t. You see, two days ago I was sitting drinking a rather overstrong coffee in the office of a major UK publisher, in London, talking about the ‘front list’ – the books that are in the front of bookshops, newly published and being promoted like crazy.

’95 per cent of the front list is written by celebrities,’ he said, laying both hands on the table and looking me in the eye.

‘Seriously?’ I said. ‘You are exaggerating, right?’

‘Hum,’ he pondered for a split second. ‘Actually, this time of year, it’s closer to 100 per cent.’ He leaned back in his chair and I blanched. If bookshops favour the front list then publishers favour the front list ergo we need to be famous if we are to stand a chance.

So, there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. If you want to get published you need to become a celebrity, or failing that, just famous in your field. I hope my ten tips above will help to get you started.

Warmly

Jo

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I have just had a great meeting with Bea Stanford, who found herself as an expat in a part of The Netherlands that has no existing infrastructure for expats like her. So, realising that there was a need to network with other expats she started Inside Twente. This neat site has blogs and forums and is a kind of Facebook for Twente dwellers. It is also a really good place to get yourself know. Being a big fish in a small pond means you are more likely to get noticed. So, if you have a book that might interest these hungry Twente expats, or would like to meet some inspiring folk. Drop by Inside Twente. I’ve just joined the club and am thrilled by Bea’s wonderful initiative. I am glad to be part of Inside Twente.

In need of an inspiration injection? Then check out the American School Fall brochure. Workshops range from learning to massage, do Reiki or become more spiritual, to golf, bellydance, language, cookery, arts and crafts and even day trips of Dutch cities.

Download the brochure, here. You’ll find it just below the PTA Services headline. Oh, and by the way, deadline for registrations is 10th September – so hurry.

YOu will also find details of my workshops there too:

Break into Writing 23rd SEpt
Write from Life 30th Sept
Release the book within 7th Oct
Definite Articles 28th Oct
Career in Your Suitcase 6th Nov
How to get your book published 13 Nov
How to make the perfect pitch 20th Nov
Growing Global Networks 27th Nov
Powertools for Publicity 4th Dec

I have just joined a site just for those with global minds. Expats, people who live abroad. Check it out at Internations.

I belong to a great networking group here in The Hague, called Connecting Women. This year is our 10th anniversary and to celebrate we are collecting stories from our members old and new. These stories are available online for everyone to see and be inspired by. Do take a look. As soon as we have 100 we are going to produce a print book. If you want to see what kind of a bunch we are – and see me too (I am in the red dress) then take a look at the photos we have posted from our anniversary dinner at Madurodam.

I have always believed that belonging to a group like Connecting Women is key to my settling in somewhere new. In fact, joining a group that shares my own interests is the first thing I do when I arrive. The next thing I do is to try to get a position on the board. After six months here, I joined CW in charge of workshops.

Despite my own passion for networking, it seems others do not share my enthusiasm. This is why I am now offering a new workshop called Networking Know-How, designed to dispel all those myths and fears and have you all clamouring to network too!