Saturday, December 05, 2009

10 Things Crime Writers Can Learn From Paris Hilton

That's the title to a blog post by author Brad Parks, and it's both serious (sort of) and hilarious.

Here's part of what he says:

She has even been, yes, a bestselling author. Her 2004 memoir “Confessions of an Heiress” debuted at No. 7 on the New York Times Bestseller List. And I suspect there are more than a few of us reading (and writing) this blog who would gladly trade their knucklebones for that.

So what can we learn from Paris Hilton? As Dave White would say, “Prepare for awesomeness.” Because I have done rigorous research – and I think we can all agree that ten minutes reading the free pages of her memoir posted on Google Books qualifies as “rigorous” – and come up with…


My reason for writing this is not just to link to the post or introduce you to the blog and suggest you subscribe although both are good things to do.

My reason is this: I'd never heard of Brad Parks before 10:30am today and now I both know who he is, and have bought his book. If you're a writer, you ll want to pay attention to how that happened because you really want total strangers to find you, think you're a good writer, and buy your book.

Here's how it worked:

First, he is pals with at least one of the writers who is a regular contributor to the blog Do Some Damage.
Second, Brad Parks bribed enticed finagled arranged to do a guest blog post about the same time his book is due to be published.

But I'd never heard of the blog, and I didn't read it regularly. The crucial middleman here is
Step three: Sophie Littlefield.

I do know Sophie, but more importantly I follow her on Twitter. This morning, as I drank coffee and checked twitter to see what fresh conspiracies were being hatched by the fabulosity of clients, I saw this tweet:
swlittlefield: "Oh, that Brad Parks is so funny - had no idea he was so tight with Paris"

And I clicked on the link.

Sophie may know Brad, or she may know Dave White. Knowing Sophie as I do, she probably knows both and they think she's the cat's pjs just like I do. Sophie is one of those people that can make things happen for people. How do you know who those people are? You don't. You just meet as many people as you can and hope that one of them is a Sophie Littlefield.

But to return to the clickage trail: I clicked on the link and I read the post. And I thought Brad Parks IS funny. But I also think he makes a good point.
So I clicked the link to see about his book.
And it had some good reviews.
So I bought it.

And then I bought another book so I could get free shipping (a book I saw mentioned on Erin McKean's blog A Dress A Day)

Book promotion isn't just guest blogging, or getting good reviews, or making friends with other authors. It's all of those things coming together. Doing just one wouldn't have gotten my one-click purchase. Brad Parks had to do ALL of them, and even then had to be one degree of separation from me, via Sophie Littlefield.

This is why you go to conferences, why you tweet, why you blog.
This is why you do it twenty minutes a day, every day.
There is no direct correlation between how much you do and how successful you'll be. There's a huge dollop of serendipity at work here.

But it worked today for Brad Parks. And it can work for you.


Lillian Robinson said...

Twenty minutes a day? How on earth do you keep up with blogs and tweets in twenty minutes a day?

Gwen Hernandez said...

Very insightful. I love your blog.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Oh my lordy, this is incredible, because just before I read *this* post, Brad and i were having an early-morning email exchange about serendipity....(early for me, late for him, but he's on you coast with 2 little kids and has probably been up since 4am or something) - -

Brad and I were fondly remembering, as we are wont to do, how we met at Bouchercon a year ago and became friends because we share an editor and have kept up that friendship through email and calls and the occasional cheer-up or encouragement session. We have a rule that we only hang out with nice people at conferences. No jerks. We laugh about our many faux pas and our most spectacular one of all - nope I'm not telling - led to a friendship with a person who later was far kinder to us than she ever needed to be.

Which brings me to *my* #1 rule of being a writer which is....ta-da: never be an, um, a#@hole. Put out good into the universe and you get good back.

(OMG can you believe I just said "put out" - which reminds me of this:

Joelle said...

I don't have a book buying budget, but I do get a lot of books this exact same way via the library. Someday I'll have cash to buy though!

Anne R. Allen said...

I definitely have bought books I first heard of via tweet. It seems random--and chaos theory is definitely in play--but there is an underlying guiding principle: as Sophie so eloquently puts it: "don't be an a#@hole." Send good into the universe and good comes back.

Now I'm going to go follow Sophie on Twitter.

Anonymous said...

First off: Thanks for buying my book Janet!

Your post reminds me of what has become my mantra for book promotion:

Nothing works. And everything works.

As to my sensational faux paus with Sophie -- I'm not telling either -- it has led to Sophie and I pinky-swearing that we will simply have to keep getting drunk together at conferences for as long as we both shall live.

It's a tough duty but, you know, sacrifices must be made for the good of the career...

Kyler said...

Thanks, Janet. You're always an inspiration. I don't follow Twitter much and maybe I should. I just went there and someone made 3 comments about me today! Good ones!I never would have known this if I hadn't read your post just now. Thanks!

dawt said...

...or as W Wheaton says, "Don't be a d**c!"

I am now stuck on an eternal link trail, thank you very much. ;-)

Anita said...

And now, because of your blog, I've ordered Parks' book...and since I'm a book recommendation columnist for a major newspaper, I may be recommending the book to thousands of readers in a matter of weeks. Yup.

Loretta Ross said...

Okay, I know what an a#@hole is, but what's a d**c?

therese patrick, author said...

For me, this post took me on a journey of links and reading that made me feel good. I don't follow celebrity stuff but have always felt Paris Hilton has the potential of being a "blond with a clue".

I like to think she'll continue to do good things in the years ahead to promote that - get a clue - message.

I also like the introduction to Brad Parks. I love "meeting" writers who understand story and make it happen. I may even buy his book... grin...

dawt said...

Loretta: Man, I really screwed that one up, and I wasn't even hung over or anything!

Link to Wil Wheaton's blog:

What I meant to write: "Don't be a di*k"


Rebecca Knight said...

I love stories like this!

Sophie's point is so true as well. I recently bought a book from an author I'd never heard of because she started following me on Twitter. I started following her blog because of a link she tweeted, thought she was a cool person, and then bought her book when I saw it in Borders :).

I LOVED it, and now I'm recommending IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT by Lisa Dale to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance (a genre I didn't even know I liked until I impulse bought her book.) And all because she is a genuinely nice person who followed my twitter account.

It's great to see how these connections come about!

lara said...

It would be easy to call this serendipity or good luck, but what I come away with is how important is it to be using the social media channels we have available to us as writers. You can't deny the power of a personal relationship (even if it only exists online) so thank you for leading me to both Sophie Littlefield and Brad Parks!