Saturday, August 20, 2011

What "The Help" has to say about marketing

My husband and I saw "The Help" yesterday. I'd read the book and was curious about the movie version.

I'd also read enough reviews so that I knew most comments were along the lines of How Far We Have Come, It Wasn't Like That With MY Family, or Thank Goodness That Can't Happen in This Day and Tine.

I wsn't thinking that at all. I was thinking of how Kathryn Stockett's book shot to the top of the best seller list and garnered a film contract. I'm pretty sure she wasn't Tweeting back in 2009, when the book was published. I checked her website and it was copyrighted in 2010, so that came after the fact also. As for a blog, she may write one, but I haven't found it.

No, her primary marketing tool was word of mouth.

You could see it working in the movie as the camera panned over scenes of women reading the book, cover prominently displayed. There were scenes of women talking about the book, face to face or over the telephone. People told people about the book and they bought it and told other people.

Isn't that the phenomonen we all wish for ourselves? That somehow our book would be talked about, praised, and finally pushed to the top of the Times best-seller list -- and stay there for weeks on end?

Last week a woman stopped me while I was walking. "I'm reading your book right now," she said and went on to flatter both the book and me to the point that I stopped her with a gesture. "My head is getting too big," I apologized. I thanked her for the kind words and said how much I appreciated hearing them.

In retrospect, I should have asked her to tell all her friends and relations the same things she had told me, and asked them to tell their friend and relations.

Facebook, websites, blogs and Twitter can do only so much. Ads are expensive. There are only so many book clubs in the area. In the end, it's whether or not people like your book well enough to tell their friends that will get the word out there.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed ...

Because it really is a good book!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My work partner and I have decided to phase out our little business. He and his wife are moving, and I would rather spend my time writing and promoting my own work. One of the services our business offered was developing and maintaining simple Web sites.

I say simple, because when I first started an image slide show and a mouse-over were considered about the height of technology. Things have progressed until I am not just bewildered by the advances made in the past 10 years, but realize I have no desire to learn. Frankly, my brain won't absorb any more technology.

But one customer asked me to please help him out and I agreed because he is a friend and because I really do enjoy the challenge. This is for a hospital in Liberia, so you can see why I was hooked at doing something a little different.

When I started playing with the overall design, I was struck by the similarities to writing a novel.

1) What is your site/book trying to sell/say.

2) What is the hook on the home/first page that will make visitors/readers click on/turn to the next page?

3) Is it easy to navigate/does the plot flow smoothly?

4) Do the illustrations/scenes add to the information/story?

5) After viewing the site/reading the book, does the visitor/reader know something he didn't know before?

6) Will the visitor/reader return/buy your next book?

I could probably think of more if I didn't need to be actually doing the work. Oh, there is one more:

7) Is the design/plotting so much fun that hours go by before you realize it?

I hope you are enjoying your writing. I know I am.