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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Passion, Not Paper

I am beginning to wonder if I'm ever going to get well. It's not like me to be under the weather for this long, but I guess with all the moving and stress it's bound to chip away at my immune system. The real downside is that here I am at home and I'm too sick to do any work. Bummer.

But I can talk a little more about promotion and how to do it without being obnoxious.

Many years ago, I knew a salesman who sold advertising space. You and I both know sales people have a reputation for being ruthless when it comes to making a sale. We dread running into someone who just wants to separate you from your money.

But this particular salesman was different. Yes, he had a product to sell, but his delivery was so smooth, so genial and warm that he regularly reached his sales quota. The secret to his success was that he never tried to ram his message down your throat.

Jesse asked about your family, your interests, and you. He talked to you as a person. Jesse was also a great story teller, intricately weaving whatever topic you and he were discussing and slowly immersing you in the story. He made you feel like you were an integral part of the process.

Perhaps what made him more likable is that he was fallible, and he didn't mind if you knew it. In short, he was just like you.

A few years ago on OWW, I met someone else who was a lot like Jesse. Mike Keyton and I reviewed each other's work from time to time and I began to realize what a keen eye he had for detail. I credit him for really smoothing out my rough edges. (Not that his work is finished yet. lol) When I decided to create a private crit circle he was one of the first people I asked to join.

Since then, I've read quite a few of Mike's stories. But the stories I love most are his true stories from his childhood and post war England. I've never been to the UK and our backgrounds are as different as night and day, but every time I read one of his blog posts he pings a memory of mine. Different people, different worlds, but oh, so similar memories.

It's that tug on my synapses that makes me think Mike is very clever. Not only is he leaving behind a journal of his life for his kids, but he's creating a cache of ideas to mine from.

Mike's doing one more thing. He's building a platform. Read him long enough and you get an inkling of the man and the writer. Although his stories have nothing to do with his posts, he pulls from a wealth of experience: heroic adventures in places as exotic as Marrakesh or as mundane as the local pub. He tells stories about great friendships and old regrets, of learning and leaving and starting over.

Do these themes sound familiar? They should. These are the themes of our books. Mike is talking about life. He's describing universal truths, things we understand and can relate to.

And that's the magic word when it comes to promotion. You have to be able to relate to people. Infuse your audience with excitement for your book. The rest is up to them.

The next time you do an interview or a promo spot, share the passion, not the paper.


This post sparked another thought about the book publishing industry and all the hysteria currently surrounding a 'dying' market. Watch for it on my next post.


Mike Keyton said...

Bloody hell, I blush. Thank you, Maria

Maria Zannini said...


Sometimes it takes an outsider to see what's inside.