Monday, August 1, 2016

Are Authors Willing To Share Secrets To Sell Books?

I recently had the fortunate experience to walk through a nude beach while on vacation in St. Martin. No, my wife and I did not do the Full Monty but we did find a casual stroll through the clothes-optional site to be quite revealing.  It was a good reminder that in order to get attention, all you need to do is be willing to share yourself in an honest and open way.

Now, I’m not suggesting authors need to bare their body parts to get media coverage – though that likely would work – but I do believe that authors who are willing to really share secrets or speak candidly on the matters they write on will see an interested media.

For instance, tell us of a time that your advice or strategies failed miserably.  No one wants an expert to come off as if they have a fool-proof method that works perfectly all the time.  Temper this advice with a few examples of how things can still go wrong even when you tried to do everything right.  Expose yourself to readers in a way that appears genuine.

Another lesson I learned on the beach – next to the nudist colony – was that you can reveal layers of yourself and still get attention.  The visiting Europeans went topless while wearing a thong bottom.  They show us that you can still turn heads your way without being fully exposed.

Authors should look at what they potentially have to say and share to the media and public and to be prepared to release this information in stages or at the appropriate time.  You have to also determine what your greatest assets are and determine how willing you are to exploit your experiences for media attention and book sales.

Some things rightfully remain hidden or unsaid.  They may involve others who expect their privacy respected.  Perhaps there are legal constraints on what you can say.  Or perhaps you just aren’t ready to handle the reaction you anticipate getting once you tell all.  But where you can find a way to talk candidly and insightfully – if not emotionally and passionately – about events, issues, or ideas that would no doubt interest others, push yourself a little further down that confessional path.

Society today is more open, transparent, and outspoken than ever before. Whether it be social media admissions or new-styled corporations or open government laws, it seems that fewer secrets exist, fewer secrets surprise us, and pushing the envelope has gotten harder.  So one’s public outing or exposing of things, so personal, so conflicting to the speaker, and so controversial may be met with mere indifference or even acceptance.  Give thought to what you want to share and in what tone you’ll present it.  Are you going for shock value, seeking to become an advocate, or looking for justice? Maybe all of the above?

Writers often reveal many pieces of themselves, but some cloak their reality in fiction.  It’s easier for them to express themselves through the vehicle of a novel – and it’s more palpable for readers to digest a story vs. reality.  Novelists may be the ones with the most to reveal about themselves.  But I understand why they sometimes choose to be silent.  They don’t want to be defined by a singular incident or statement.  They want their craft discussed, not their personal life. They want to be able to escape into their writings and never have the dark shadows step beyond the pages of their books.

Confessing is not for everyone.  Some people, if they truly revealed what’s on their mind, would be shunned.  Some writers, if they shared their crimes or ethical lapses or rule violations would suffer significant jail time, lawsuits, or broken relationships.  But when writers can move a level or two beyond the normal discussions of their art, when they can go off course just a little, when they can step outside their restrictive role, they will find readers and media ready to lap up their exposed and naked thoughts, their radical ideas, their adventurous experiences, and their raw humanity.

Writers usually take the route of revealing stages of victimhood – dad was a drunk, my wife cheated on me, a priest touched me.  Or they discuss transgressions that mainly hurt themselves – addictions, bad career choices, mistakes made.  What would be new is to hear someone talk of their crimes, ones that went unprosecuted, where no justice was meted out to make the situation whole.  But who will put themselves in such jeopardy?

You may ask:  Why is it obligatory to speak about one’s personal life, to share the negative, the crazy, the immoral?  Why does one have to reveal their secrets, their soul, their past just to sell a book? The answer is this:  You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to.  Let your craft speak for itself.  But today’s consumer interests and media demands almost require the writer to not only inform and entertain, but to shock and lead.

If you have something to say, pour it into your writings. If you want those writings to be read and sold, be ready to turn your life inside out and to publicly speak about the very things you thought you never would dare touch.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.

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