Some Marketing Notes
December 12, 2007 | Written by admin
I had several people write to me after explaining the cool marketing idea Chris Coppernoll is doing. Called "Providence Cares," Chris is teaming up with hospitals to help families raise money for those in need, while getting some great publicity for his new novel, Providence.
Ben wrote in to ask, "What exactly does the author do when ‘teaming up’ with a hospital?"
Instead of answering myself, I asked Chris this very question. His response: "Providence Cares helps families raise money for a child facing kidney and liver transplants. In my own life, I’ve watched friends as they grapple with the overwhelming costs of catastrophic illness in their children. Like many people, I believed health insurance or a state agency would cover treatment costs for organ transplants and life-sustaining medications needed in aftercare…but that’s not the case. Families are overwhelmed with the task of raising tens of thousands of dollars. So Providence Cares gives families another means of raising support for transplantation.
"Here’s how it works: Families host a Providence Cares event and invite their friends, family, co-workers, and faith community. I speak and sign books at the event, and 100% of the proceeds go toward the family’s health care expenses. The host family isn’t asked to pay for ANY expenses — books, my travel, or hotel costs. Books are distributed as a thank you for a donation of $20 or more (and some people give more). Providence Cares provides post card mailers for the family to invite guests to the event. Just 50 books signed at the event will raise $1000 in support. Families are welcome to promote the event by contacting their local newspaper, television and radio stations, or book clubs. Events can take place at a book store, church, community center, or hospital community room.
"Best of all, the response has been amazing. Families have been thrilled to have someone come along side, join hands, and help them in a very practical way. I see the Providence Cares ministry as a wonderful extension of my work as a writer. More than just telling stories, I hope my life can impact others."
A great response! And this is a practical idea authors can consider emulating. A great way to help people, get some media attention, and get people noticing your book.
On an entirely different track, I wanted to share a story with you from a fellow agent. Turns out one of the publishers she works with decided to bring in an author and have her meet the staff. They said they wanted her to "get to know the team," and told her she’d be signing books for everyone. Only one catch… The publisher wanted the author to BUY THE BOOKS before giving them away! That’s right — they asked the author to buy her own books to give away at the publisher’s event. I had to double-check this story, just to make sure I had heard it correctly. I’d never heard of a publisher expecting their author to purchase the books they were giving away at a signing…but NOW I’ve heard of it. Yikes. And you wonder why I think a lot of the people in marketing don’t know what they’re doing…
Here’s a true item: Bill Cosby has a new book out — Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors was released by Thomas Nelson in October. I hope it does well for them — Cosby’s message is much needed in our PC culture, and Nelson has proven itself to be a house willing to take a chance on a potentially non-PC projects. When I came across the book on Amazon, it reminded me of another marketing story.
Several years ago, I was sitting at a meeting of some top publishing professionals, and we were discussing a proposal that was being shopped by Mr. Cosby. He had been all the rage for years — a top-flight comic, a much-beloved spokesperson, and the star of the biggest TV show of his era. The guy was huge, and here we were discussing the merits of doing a book with him. In the midst of the discussion, a publicist spoke up. (Note: I swear I’m not making this up.) "Well," she said, "I just don’t know if I could get media for that book."
Silence around the room. Um…what? You can’t get media for Bill Cosby? You don’t think you can get TV and radio types to interview BILL FREAKIN’ COSBY? "No," she told us. "It wouldn’t be easy. There’s a lot of competition to get on the top shows."
Oh. It wouldn’t be "easy." That would certainly make me lie awake nights. I’m sure all those writers who are pouring their souls out onto pages are worried about their jobs being "easy." I’ve made my living for a decade as a literary agent, and for the life of me I can’t think of a time when it was easy — when the deals just lined up and all I had to do was make a phone call and deposit the check. As though working for a living is supposed to be "easy." So at that particular meeting, it was all I could do to keep from exploding. I told Miz Publicist that, right there, on the spot, I could set up some media for Bill Cosby using nothing but my stupid cel phone — and I’m not super-connected with the top media people. (I got interrupted before I could finish my thought — that if she couldn’t get media for Bill Cosby, she was probably in the wrong line of work. And an idiot.) Let it be a lesson: When you find a good publicist or marketing people, listen to them, do what they ask, and treat them well. The good ones are in the minority.