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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September 3, 2008

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