Book Marketing and Celebrity

Writing a book is just the beginning. Then you market the book. A lot of this can be fun–a blog tour, giveaways, meeting new people. A lot of it is not so much fun–lots of rejection (again) from bookstores, editors, and places you think are perfect for events. After the writing was done, I felt I had completed something, come to a good place. But it’s just the beginning. In fact, every rest stop in the journey has a great view of the future. But the road to that future is another steep path.

The bright promise of celebrity can feel a little dry and prickly.

I felt elated when I got a book contract, then terrified that I actually had to write the book. I felt elated when it was done, thinking I had stepped up a notch, but my rosy idea that book stores would welcome me, smile, and suggest a book signing was really way off. You have to struggle with book signings. It seems that book stores are busy doing not-signings, and you are a giant bother to them. As usual, it helps if you are already famous.

Which is where I ran into the snag. I subscribe to several marketing-idea blogs and newsletters, and last week was hit with several on the topic, “Marketing isn’t enough, you must turn yourself into a celebrity,” and “Unless you are a celebrity, your book isn’t moving.” Oh.

I am not sure what a celebrity is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a rock star, sweat-lodge emerging, champagne drinking,  talk-show-tour celebrity.  I’m a creativity coach, I run workshops. I’m happy doing that. Am I supposed to want a line of products, a TV show, people recognizing me on the street?

Actually, what I really want, if I had a magic wand, is my book reaching people who feel they are not enough, not good enough, not smart enough to be creative. Those who have journals with one or two pages filled up, and more pages torn out in disappointment. Those who want to journal but don’t feel complete enough to be themselves, even in a journal.

In my magic-wand world, I’d be celebrity enough if there were some people who pick up kits and do them so very well, and still feel empty read the book and realized that there is a life beyond kits. Beyond a project class that has you assemble a cute object and give it as a present. There is a satisfying life of sloppy experimentation and doing stuff that doesn’t work that makes you feel connected to creativity, to a bigger sense of yourself. In that life, making meaning is the point, and trying out ideas is exciting because you are learning about yourself and your ideas and how you connect to a huge web of ideas and, well, healing. Healing your own pain, growing into and beyond your own “not enough-ness,” connecting to another’s feeling of ‘not-enough’ and being OK with that, too.

I wrote the book for those people. People like me. People who yearn to have some sort of creative spark fanned into a flame. I want to share that joy, that incredible flood of gratitude that comes from creativity. The startling realization that an hour in a studio or workshop creates a life more satisfying than any “real housewife” has ever dreamed of. And you can have that life without wearing an underwire, pushup bra or stilettos or photographing yourself in your underwear and sending it to fans. I believe the pursuit of happiness is interesting and engaging and may be what happiness really is. That’s why I wrote the book. That’s why I teach. That’s my kind of celebrity.

–Quinn McDonald’s book, “Raw Art Jouraling: Making Meaning, Making Art,” is being shipped at this very moment, and will be available in July, 2011. It’s not too shabby that it has broken Amazon’s top 5 in Mixed Media, top 30 in Creativity and top 75 in Crafts and Hobbies. Maybe it’s a celebrity!

20 thoughts on “Book Marketing and Celebrity

    • After reading all those serious bios about people’s schooling and achievements, I knew it just wasn’t me. My schooling was important for the skills it gave me, but I’ve always fallen short of my own expectations of myself.

    • Most people thing that some step in the distance is the “achievement.” When we get there, the horizon has moved and we don’t have the success or joy we thought we would have. This is, of course, why the journey itself is important, and not the goal. But living it is harder than saying it.

  1. While I know you have to market your book for it be successful, maybe you need to let it also take its own course. Word of mouth can be mighty powerful. You reach one person who is inspired–they reach ten more. I hope it takes off like wildfire because as great a writer, teacher, and coach you are, that book has just got to be filled with greatness. I can hardly wait for my copy to arrive.

  2. Quinn, it’s so funny that I’m reading this post from you today. I went to Borders for a cup of coffee this afternoon, and flipped through a copy of Somerset Studio, where I’ve been seeing your column for so many years. And I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve corresponded with HER, and she’s famous!” with a little smile in my head. So, if it matters, you’re kind of a celebrity to ME! 🙂

    • I’ll accept that! It depends on how you define celebrity–and I like your definition!
      About two years ago, I was in a paper arts store, and handed over my credit card to pay for my purchases. The woman at the counter said, “Are you THE Quinn McDonald?” I automatically said, “No, you must be thinking of someone else.” She said “Are you famous?” I smiled and said, “No, seriously, I”m a writer.” That usually discourages people who are expecting an actor or a singer. She wasn’t giving up. “Don’t you write for Somerset Studio?’ she persisted. I was really surprised. “Yes, I do,” I said, and she yelled out loud, “This is THE Quinn McDonald who writes for Somerset!” and about five people who were taking a class asked me to sign their magazines or class notes. It was a lot of fun, and for about two minutes, I felt famous.

  3. For some reason, Quinn, I am connecting with your most recent postings and this one really gives me some hope. I’ve ordered the book from Amazon and look forward to the day when they finally ship it. I know there are lots of others like me who are waiting impatiently, or patiently, for the book. It’s Saturday morning in Flagstaff, AZ, and it’s cool. It will get warm today but not as warm as Phoenix. For that I’m grateful. And maybe I’ll take some time to do ONE art journal page in the many blank journals I have around the house. Your message today gives me the nudge I need. Thank you.

    • Oh, Marrianna, Flag does sound lovely today. One page is all you need to do. Keep it simple. If you want to have a theme, try this one: Set a timer and write for three minutes about the kitchen table at home when you were a child. Everything you can remember about it. Then, to add color, try to remember the color in your kitchen, and draw in some swatches. Have fun! In any case, let us know what happens! I’d love to come to Flag and teach!

    • Yep, Pete, that’s my page and I wrote the bio! It was hard, too. I am an amazon associate, but can’t put the link on a blog. So it’s on my website: under “About my book” Why no link here? Because I’m merging my two websites and while rawartjournaling will still work, the specific pages to the book won’t. And while I’m bragging, I’ve been in the top 10 of Mixed Media for almost a whole week! Pre-release!

  4. What would it be like if we didn’t buy into the idea of the scarcity of competition and allowed ourselves to bask in who we are? I LOVED what you wrote. I have seen your book. I have no doubt it will do well and reach the right people. Keep up the humor, you lighten my day.

    • Competition drives me nuts. I’m sure it works for some people, and it’s fine as long as it is motivational. When we start to move from “I win!” to “You have to lose so I can win!” it just gets dangerous.

  5. I’ve got my thinking cap on for you, Quinn. I’m sure we can find some great ways to get the word out about your book! You know I’ve always got about a bazillion ideas percolating!
    Congrats on the stats for the book on amazon! I pre-ordered and can’t wait to get my copies! (I’m giving your book as gifts to some friends)

    • You DO always have a bazillion ideas percolating. And thanks for ordering the book! I’m just amazed at the need for “celebrity” to validate ideas. Don’t good ideas stand on their own anymore?

  6. What a great post – I know just what you mean. I queried a collection of illustrated short stories last year, and quickly found out that short story collections don’t sell unless you’re a well-known writer or – yep, you guessed it – a celebrity.

    During my publishing research my eyes were opened to the whole “writing the book is just the beginning” thing, and wish you well. I know you’ll come up with some innovative ways to get your book out there, and wish you much success – however YOU define it. :o)

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