Thursday, January 11, 2007

5000 COACHES: A NEW WAY TO SELL BOOKS


grassroots man, originally uploaded by chillhiro.

I loved a lot of things about the movie, Akeelah and the Bee, but one thing that stayed in my mind was the concept of 5000 coaches. When Akeelah's spelling coach quits on her just before the National Spelling Bee, he tells her to go home and look in her own family, her own neighborhood, her own school. There, he says, she will find 5000 coaches. And in them, she will find her victory.

Akeelah's school doesn't have the most rudimentary educational supplies; and her family is too distracted by their struggle to survive the hazards of their vibrant, but blighted neighborhood to pay much attentions to Akeelah's aspirations.

But what her coach teaches her is that sometimes all you have to do is be clear and strong about your dream--and then ask for help. The 5000 coaches, like the proverbial zen teacher, will appear. And they do.

In a lot of ways, the blogosphere has been for a lot of us, the land of 5000 coaches. Whether we're dropping in daily to support a blog friend whose son was recently in a devastating car accident, or sharing stimulus with the marvelous Melba who recently invited C.Delia Scarpitti to interview me for Create a Connection, or taking time to contemplate our magnificent planet, the energy of the ideas and passion shared in the sphere is a force to be reckoned with.

These days, book promotion has become not just the business of publishing companies or highly paid outside publicists. These days authors get to join in the fun, too. After all, who cares more about the success of our books than we do? At first, I was a little intimidated. What did I know about marketing? And did it mean I'd have to leave my little writing room?

Then I went out and looked for my 5000 coaches. The first one was MJ Rose, and her class Buzz Your Book. In that class, MJ taught that you need at least one signature idea to market your book. Like a good zen master, she couldn't tell us what it was; she could only teach us how to search for it.

Almost by accident, I stumbled upon a group of dynamic debut novelists known as Killer Year. The knowledge and encouragement, not to mention, the laugh out loud humor, they share in daily emails, has taught me more than I can say.

Since then, the coaches have proliferated. One example? This week my incredible literary agent and her family will be digging into their own rolodexes, then addressing and sending out 1,000 postcards--all to get the word out about The Liar's Diary. Needless to say, no agent contract in the world covers that kind of grassroots effort.

If I began to name my own band of 5000 coaches, I would quickly run out of space: Tess Gerritsen, Tish Cohen, Karen DeGroot Carter, Dan Wickett, Susan Henderson, Amy MacKinnon, Jacquelyn Mitchcard, Susan Messer, Jordan Rosenfeld, Myfanwy Collins, Laini Taylor DiBartolo...to name a very few. Then there are the many of YOU who pre-ordered the novel even before my mother did, or wrote about it on your blogs. Do you have any idea how great and wide my gratitude is?

More about my new way of selling books, my big, revolutionary idea tomorrow. Right now it's one a.m., and this marketing maven is going to bed.

36 comments:

melba said...

It is 1:09 AM right this minute, can I come over for some tea?

How funny we are both up. and we both need to go to bed.
I actually really need to do my on-line banking, but I have been away from the computer most of the day and was missing my connecting.

I am excited to hear more of your marketing ideas. The whole process is really so exciting for you!

I admit that I am a busy Mama, but seriously if there is anything I can do to help let me know. and let me know if you are "appearing" anywhere I will be the first one there!

XO,
Melba

Avus said...

I like the 5000 coaches idea and the zen connection (When the pupil is ready the master will appear). I agree that the blogsphere is very valuable for this, too.

Ivy said...

Can't wait to read what you have to say, Patry! :-)

Amy MacKinnon said...

Patry, to read my name alongside such literati is an honor. The fact that you have so much support speaks to the quality of your writing and your nature. We're inspired.

Marilyn said...

We enjoyed Akilah and the Bee...but I hadn't connected the 5,000 coaches idea to the blogosphere. You're absolutely right! If there's one important lesson I learned last year in my blogging life it's to not think ONE person can't make a difference. One leads to two, leads to... Sometimes we get overwhelmed with just taking that ONE small action. But take it we must! Can't wait to hear your idea... ;)

Patry Francis said...

melba: I think I went to bed 2 minutes before you commented! Thanks for your kind offer to help. Don't be surprised if I take you up on it! xxx

avus: Did you see the movie?

ivy: You never know; could work for poets, too...

amy: Clearly, your name will be listed among the literati everywhere--and very soon. Thanks again for your coaching!

marilyn: You've just described how I've been dealing with my recent personal "overwhelm". One action at a time.

robin andrea said...

I haven't heard of this movie or the 5000 coaches idea. I do love the zen-ness of it. Yes, we are all coaches for each other. What a wonderful way to describe blogging.

Laini Taylor said...

Wonderful post, Patry! I'm so excited about your book, too, and I certainly want to hear more about your marketing ideas! The Killer Year idea is great -- it certainly has been for me, both in the "surfer speak" sense of "killer" and the dark sense. It certainly hasn't been what I expected. Now that the release date nears, I'm beginning to have such anxieties! I don't want to do a lot of the promotion stuff, whatever that is, but I really really want the book to succeed and not disappear from shelves in a year. And, I haven't seen ""Akeelah" yet but speaking of buzz -- did you happen to go into a Starbucks before that movie opened? They had spelling cards stacked on all the counters for promotion! I want Starbucks to promote MY book! Can you IMAGINE?? Good luck with your 5000 friends, Patry -- of which I am definitely one -- and your agent sounds great. Mine, too, totally goes above and beyond!

Anonymous said...

Patry, you're definitely in my 5000 coaches. For everything from your brilliant marketing ideas, to your unwavering support and your perilous methods of curing a sore throat.

Tish Cohen (whose throat is much better)

mikaelah said...

congratulations on your success! I saw the movie and love how you have taken the 5,000 coaches and brought it into your life. I have a similar story about being supported in the world and your 5,000 coaches image supported me to take my own support images to the next level. I just started reading your blog a few months ago (via the waitress poems) and love your writing.

Left-handed Trees... said...

I was thrilled for the chance to interview you, Patry. I learned so much from your willingness to share about creativity and process. I will keep on pushing for your book's success (I'll have to get a review going now for the magazine--don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!) This next one might sound silly to you--but, if everyone who reads your blog did the same, who knows? My dear sweetheart teacher asked anyone who was so inclined to visit their favorite bookstores (and especially bookstore chains), head over to the shelves where her book was, and turn it face OUT (rather than spine out) as they browsed. Might seem pointless, but I watched with my own two eyes as a man picked her book up and then BOUGHT it while I sat nearby, reading. (Maybe he was looking for her book and it was just chance, but he had pulled out at least three other books and put them back prior, so I'd like to take credit for that one sale anyway.) Lots of luck to you...
--Delia--

paris parfait said...

I like the analogy of 5000 coaches and how so many have appeared in your path and/or cheering from the sidelines. Your book is going to be a big success!

sarala said...

You must be pretty excited about your book launch.
Best of luck. I read the Amazon blurb and it sounds like a great read.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm looking forward to your book, Patry. But I haven't pre-ordered it. Preordering scares me.

KG said...

Never saw the movie, but your description of it and the 5000 coaches comment is inspiring me to rent it this weekend.

How amazing that we can all help each other in such small and large ways! I get chills when I think of how many major and minor "miracles" have happened because of blogging.

Holly Kennedy said...

I loved Akeelah and the Bee, too. Good luck with THE LIAR'S DIARY when it comes out! All the best from a fellow author.

Tinker said...

What a great analogy - the encouragement and connections made here on the blogosphere really IS like having 5000 coaches! And how wonderful that your agent truly invests herself in the authors she represents. Can't wait to hear more about your big, revolutionary idea!

Laini Taylor said...

Just saw what Delia said about "face-outs" and it's NOT silly. I worked in a bookstore for years, and face-out "real estate" is hot property. We all know we judge a book by its cover! And Patry, your cover is awesome.

sink sink socks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
floots said...

doubt if you'll be doing any signings on skye
but looking forward to the book
and you're so right about blogging
good luck

colleen said...

That's wonderful, Patry! Will you be doing a book tour signings amywhere near my part of the world? And will I be able to get your book at Barnes and Noble and such?

Natalie said...

Patry, I'm all ears. I could use some of those tips for my own book's promotion. Have been lazy about going pre-ordering but am going to Amazon you pronto. Great days ahead for you, m'dear.

ORION said...

Jackie has been instrumental in my career too... This is such a great blog - I found you through Holly.
(my book is being released by Putnam August 2007)

gerry rosser said...

I just had a brilliant thought: Maybe I could read Patry's book (maybe I do want to be a french fry--is "french" fry supposed to be capitalized because it refers to a country?).

How do I get an autographed copy?

chosha said...

It's such a cool concept, that collective wisdom and willingness to help. I soooo want to see that movie, but it didn't play here in Australia. I saw the trailer about ten times.

Pearl said...

Sounds like a wonderful rewarding head space. Making a social network that sport is a key skill in any situation.

Glad to hear your book is coming along.

btw, The link to the connection interview is broken.

Coll said...

This sounds all so exciting for you. Isn't it grand when we get to live our passions.

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

Your journey has shown me what life can be like when it's time to market my own novel. Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to take an active role in marketing like you.

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

Your journey has shown me what life can be like when it's time to market my own novel. Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to take an active role in marketing like you.

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

Your journey has shown me what life can be like when it's time to market my own novel. Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to take an active role in marketing like you.

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry.

Your journey has shown me what life can be like when it's time to market my own novel. Thanks for this. I'm definitely going to take an active role in marketing like you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
P. A. Moed said...

What a wonderful idea to form a community of grass roots readers. You've helped me envision what I can do to advertise and sell my book. Thanks!

MJ said...

Patry, can you email me at mjroseAuthor@aol.com - I can't find your email.

K-Oh said...

Oh, I love this post. So encouraging.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

徵信,徵信,徵信,徵信,徵信,徵信社,徵信社,徵信社,徵信社,徵信社,