Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friends With Benefits...Marketing Continues...

Now is the nitty gritty time with Friends With Benefits. Over the next few days, you'll start seeing more and more book touring dates on the ledger. You'll also see less posts about my personal life and more about the upcoming book. No matter how urgent you want to make it, the planning you do months before your book comes out just don't seem too urgent. But a month before, things then seem to be ready to go. So you've got to focus.

I've adjusted the Atlanta date, and it looks like I will be spending at least a week in NYC.

Another part of my strategy is to do combination Divine Nine/Friends With Benefits signings. A LOT of my readers have the Divine Nine, but have never had it signed. That's mostly because I concentrated lectures/signings at college campuses for the past four years, rather than bookstore signings. But this is a great way to get my non-fiction readers to pick up my fiction.

I still haven't heard from Kensington about their publicity plans, but once I finish my book tour schedule, I can let them know where I'm going to be and then they can coordinate their interviews accordingly. My travel schedule is going to be hellish, particularly since I have to pack this all in with three weeks.

Another thing I'm doing for Friends With Benefits is create posters. I've never done that before, but I want posters in bookstores, college campus bookstores, and as give aways at signings. Remember, thousands of books on the shelves. You need guideposts so people will pick up your book.

I also have a new batch of galleys, so I'm going to send them to a list of radio stations and newspapers contacts I have.

For the past year, I've been collecting email addresses from potential readers, and last week I sent notes to about one thousand of them. I still have about five thousand more to send. My fraternity brother Barry Benson throws parties in the Los Angeles area, and he's sending an email blast to about 10,000 LA folks. That should pretty much guarantee a large initial signing at Eso Won and also that I make the Los Angeles Times bestsellers list. You only have to make it once to use it for marketing.

Also, I'm about to do a series of interviews with black newspapers and campus newspapers.

Things are starting to roll, and they should roll until around the end of September.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Me Book Tour Diet Plan No Go To Good...

All right. I was supposed to get in shape for the tour. As I said, no one wants to meet a fat author. Hell, I don't want to be a fat author on tour. Plus, when you're flying on an airplane all of the time, there's nothing worse than feeling that you're ten pounds overweight. So I was supposed to cut out all of the bad stuff.

But things were mad hectic folks. Selling the house was stressful. But now, as I finish eating a spicy tuna roll from Kabuki, and look at two milk chocolate Ms. Fields cookies, I am vowing to start anew. I can do this, like Brutus, cause I always knew this. My first book signing is September 8th, so I have plenty of time. Plus, I have the good fortune of being able to get in somewhat good shape with a minimum of effort. Now I'm going to do it. Beginning tomorrow. The goal is a simple one: Lose ten pounds in forty days. Let me know if I should put a weight progress bar on the blog.

BTW, I'm going to steal an idea from another blog. Every Wednesday, I'll open it up for questions. If you have any questions about books and publishing, feel free to ask. Alright, back to my last chocolate.


We've accepted an offer for our house and now we're in escrow. That's the good news. The bad news is that I'm now, for the first time, realizing that I have a ton of promotional work to do during the month of August, while also having to pack up for our move. That's going to be a headache extraordinaire. My strategy is to box up everything early. We are NOT going to wait until the last minute, even though my wife is a last minute person. We're also going to use this move as an opportunity to get rid of stuff we've accumulated over the years. You'd be amazed by how much stuff you've bought and stored, sometimes not even used. We're going to have an old fashioned garage sales in the coming weekends. Everything must go! But it feels nice to finally get the house out of the way. Hopefully, all will go well with escrow. Now, down with the pictures.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Real Copy...

So I decide to go outside to cool off and what do I see on my porch but a package from Kensington. Only in Inglewood do you get your mail at 6pm and STILL the postal worker doesn't ring your doorbell to let you know you have a package. Anyway, the package contained a pleasant surprise. They'd sent me a copy of my book. Not a bound galley, but a real book. Sweet. If the book is ready, then that means it should be shipping to the warehouse about now, and get on the shelves around mid August. So I need to get off my ass and get going with my promotions.

My Sponsorship...

I will finally receive my Suzuki this week. If anyone is looking to buy a bike, let me know!

As I promised, I started emailing people about my booksignings. I'm beginning with my Los Angeles and Oakland signings. These should be fun because I'll know a lot of the people who attend. I enjoy those the most. On Wednesday, I will see if I can complete the touring schedule with book stores. I still need to schedule my New York, Chicago, and other Midwest stores.

I still need to find out what Kensington is going to do for publicity. Once I find that out, I will fill in the holes.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Open House: Part I

We are having an open house today and tomorrow, and that means we must vamoose from the crib for a few hours. Yesterday, our broker needed to show the house for a client, so we went to McD's for about an hour. As it turns out, the client turned out to be a fraternity brother who I've known for about twenty years. Small world.

It is a strange phenomenon to have strangers go through your house. They look at your picture, ridicule (in my paranoid mind) your paint schemes, and instantly have likes and dislikes about a house that you love. Weird. But hell, as long as we sell it for a great price, I can get over it. LOL

Friday, July 22, 2005

Nothing to write...So EPMD...

I don't have anything to write about my writing, so I thought I'd post the lyrics to one of the greatest hip hop songs ever, by one of the great hip hop duos ever, EPMD. I'm still looking to rock a black EPMD t-shirt. If anyone has one in XL, holla!

[Pee MD]
You Gots to Chill...
Verse 1
[E Double E]
Relax your mind let your conscience be free
And get down to the sounds of EPMD
Oh you should keep quiet while the MC rap
But if you're tired then go take a nap
Or stay awake and watch the show I take
Because right now I'm 'bout to shake'n'bake
The E R I C K is my name I spell
Things to the clientele yo I rock well
I'm not an MC who' talkin' all that junk
About who can beat who, soundin' like a punk
I just get down and I go for mine
Say "Check 1-2" and run down a line
[Pee MD]
To the average MC I'm known as The Terminator
Funky beat maker, new jack exterminator
Destroyin' a ploy when your rhymes are not void
Never sweatin' your girl (Why P?) Cos she's a skeezoid
When I'm on the scene I always rock the spot
I grab the steel with the crown on the top
In the beginnin' I like to let my rhymes flow
And at twelve I press cruise control
Sit back and relax, let my rhymes tax
Maintain MC's while the Double E macks
Always calm under pressure, no need to act ill
Listen when I tell you boy, you gots to chill...
Verse 2
[E Double E]
I be the personal computer, information on rap
Like the B-I-Z Markie says, I'll make your toes tap
I format the rhymes step by step
Make 'em sound def to maintain my rep
Prepared to come off in case of a diss
Not worried about a thing, cos we can do this
I can turn the party out just by standin' still
Make the ladies scream and shout while the brothers act ill
Take total control of your body and soul
Pack a nine in my pants for when it's time to roll
[Pee MD]
I'm the P-double-E M-D-E-E
And one thing I hate is a bitin' MC
When I enter the party suckers always form a line
Then they ease their way up and try to bite my lines
I did thousands of shows, dissed many faces
And deal with new jacks on a one-to-one basis
But every now and then a sucker MC gets courageous
And like an epidemic it becomes contagious
But never the least they all R.I.P
For all those unaware it means Rest In Peace
Cos M.D stands for Microphone Doctor
And the capital P, capital M, capital D-E-E's no doubt the chief
Don't like to get ill, but if I have to I kill
So believe me boy, you gots to chill...
Verse 3
[E Double E]
Catch every word I'm sayin', no there's no delayin'
Don't hestitate to motivate the crowd, I'm not playin'
Seeing is believing, you catch my drift?
Don't try to adapt because I'm just too swift
(How swift?) I'm so swift and that's an actual fact
I'm like Zorro, I mark a E on your back
I don't swing on no ropes or no iron cords
The only weapon is my rappin' sword
[Pee MD]
Intimidate MC's with the tone of my vocal drone
When I'm pushin' on the microphone
Cos I'm the funky rhyme maker, MC undertaker
The one who likes to max and relax
And, when it's time, issue diggum-smacks
I keep their hands clappin', fingers snappin', feet tappin'
When it's time to roll Uzi patrol's packin'
The Pee MD, the mic's my only friend
And through the course of the party I kill again and again
So if you're thinkin' 'bout battlin' you better come prepared
Come wit' your shield and your armoured gear
You gots to chill...
[E Double E] DJ La Boss...
[Pee MD] ...takes no shorts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hot...but I need to get back to work...

It's hotter than hell in Los Angeles today. But I need to get back to work. Right now, I've got to finish the documentary proposal and send it to MK Asante. We're working on it together and hopefully we'll be able to shoot it next summer. It's a sports and race documentary and we're pretty excited about it.

But back to brass tacks. I will NOT be going to the Harlem Book Fair. We have our open house scheduled this weekend, and we need to be around. So that sucks. BlackCafeLit gets pushed back a little bit more. But it's still on my board.

I need to find out from my agent and editor how they liked Money Shot.

FWB, as I said before, is my concern next week. I will finish scheduling all of my book signings. I still need to get a report from Kensington on what they are going to do publicity wise. Also, I need to find out if my frat brother was able to consumate a sponsorship for my tour. If not, it's coming out of my pocket. Not a biggee, but I'd rather someone else pay for it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


That weekend off was great and now I feel incredibly refreshed. I'm still playing with writing forms different than books, and the latest is a thirty minute sitcom. I've had a bit of instruction and guidance from a friend, and I'm finding it to be a very fun process. I'm even laughing at things in the right spots. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

On the Sponsorship front: I get my bike from Suzuki next week. YEAH!!!

On FWB: I still need to finish setting up my tour, but not this week. I'll get going on that next week.

The house has now been listed, so we are on our way. We have a brokers open house on Thursday, and then on Saturday and Sunday, there's the open house for the public. Getting a house ready for selling was some hard, hard work, but we're very optimistic about having multiple bids. We have a pretty nice house.

We told our six year old son about moving last week, and he was cool with it, as long as he got his own computer. That was a pretty good deal.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Article in this month's Savoy Magazine...

If you pick up this month's Savoy magazine (John Singleton is on the cover), you'll find an article I wrote on black character actors in Hollywood. It's on page 50. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hire David Gregory...

For the past few months, I've been complaining about the sycophantic Chris Matthews, and his Hardball program. He's been skewing so overtly Republican that it is hard to watch. Fortunately, he's out this week and White House correspondent David Gregory is filling in for him and the difference is amazng. Here is a reporter who listens, knows what he's talking about and actually CORRECTS the propagandists who constantly spin lies. What a breath of fresh air. I hope someone at MSNBC is watching.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I've officially crashed. I had about three hours of sleep today, after basically flying across the country without rest. And now I'm exhausted. I think I'll give it all a rest until Monday. I'm going to get a six-pack of Heineken and watch Tiger beat the crap out of everyone at the British Open.

BTW, I'm listening to Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out over and over for some reason. I just can't stop listening to it. Also on the playlist is Jack Johnson. Speaking of rock, the brother on the INXS realtiy show (one of my favorite bands from the 80s) is REALLY good. Gotta see if he's going to win.

I Hate Flying...

I just got back from Columbus, and the Deltas gave me a wonderful reception. But flying nowadays is the worst. Over the past five years, I've flown about a thousand times, and I don't mind the actual act of flying. You could flip the plane upside down and it wouldn't faze me. But I HATE the layovers, the waiting, the expensive McDonalds combo meals, and buying magazines I wouldn't read any other time. Last night, I was coming back from Columbus on America West, otherwise known as America's Worst, and we didn't get into Los Angeles until 2:45am. I was supposed to get there around 12:45am. So I get about three hours of sleep, and then get up to finish up the last bit of the house before the realtors come by today. We're going to list the house tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


My painter went completely awol on me. He was supposed to finish up the outside, and then start fixing a small hole in my ceiling (making sure to not mess up my newly cleaned carpet). But after working for an hour, he cut out. Ghost. Gone. Adios. Not even a knock on the door. So I have realtors coming to assess the house on Friday, and my boy still has work to do. Making things worse, I leave for Columbus tomorrow for the Delta convention, so I have to trust that he's going to get things done right. Boy, do I hate contractors.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Whatever Happened To...

...Rick Famuyiwa? He wrote "The Wood" and "Brown Sugar" which were nice little films about black life that I recognize. According to IMDB, Brown Sugar was the last thing he'd done.

This Week...

Sorry about the lack of posts about writing, marketing books, or Friends With Benefits, but I'm under a hot deadline to get my house ready for sale. This past weekend, I spent it getting the backyard into shape. Over the past month, it seemed like my trees suddenly sprouted branches everywhere. So those had to be culled back. I've got to finish up today or tomorrow, and then travel to the Delta Midwest Convention. My painter has promised to get everything done by Thursday. Realtors are coming on Friday to make their pitches. So it is busy, busy, busy. And with a month and a half before Friends With Benefits comes out, I have a lot to do. But not this week.

Wrap up time:

1. I have a sponsorship with American Suzuki, but for some reason, there's been a glitch in getting things done. But I have faith they'll get it together.

2. Savoy Magazine: I think I'm in a long list of writers waiting for their checks.

3. BlackCafeLit: I'm working on the script for BCL this week, in anticipation of shooting at the Harlem Book Fair.

4. Documentary: I need to work on the documentary proposal this week. I think I'll do it while flying to Columbus and in my hotel.

5. Scripts, scripts, scripts: I'm writing three scripts right now, pretty much as practice. I'm also trying to practicing tag lines for my scripts. I need to become more precise and succinct in explaining my script ideas.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

G8 Conference...

The G8 Conference is over and Tony Blair is trumpeting the doubling of aid to Africa. According to him, they are going to increase aid to $50 billion dollars. That got me thinking. That seems like a lot of money. But is it really? Then I found this...

"Research and Markets: Strong Growth of Pet Industry Set to Continue with American Spending on Pets Nearly Doubling in Last Decade to $34.4 Billion"

According to this article, Americans spend nearly as much on their dogs and cats as the G8 is pledging to help African countries (whose raw resources have provided most of the wealth to those G8 countries). I'm guessing that dogs and cats will at some point pass Africans in amount spent...

Lack of posts...

Sorry about the lack of posts. We just had the carpets cleaned, and the painter is still doing work. I travel to the Delta conference this week, so my posts may be a little bit every other day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Freelance Writing for magazines...

Sucks. Big Time. You write the article and wait, and wait, and wait, to get paid. The editor is typically in a bad position because the publisher is waiting on that last ad to come in, while delegating the angry writers to her. I'm one of those angry writers. I'm owed a check that should have been here in June, and now it's July. I finally get the invoice, but do you think I'll get paid this month? Your guess is as good as mine. Grrr...

Today is the start...

Today is when I start getting in shape for the September tour. Goodbye chocolate. Goodbye ice cream. Goodbye refined bread. I'm feeling lumpy, mainly because I've been eating lumpy food. So here goes. My strategy? A modified vegetarian diet (fish allowed) along with four hours of playground basketball. It has always worked to get me in shape, and it should work this time. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Anchors Without Degrees...

Last week, I found myself buying an Esquire magazine at the infamous Wal-Mart in the Crenshaw Shopping Center. I say infamous because that Wal-Mart is the subject of a truly offensive commercial which depicts the neighborhood around the Wal-Mart as being impoverished ("We have hope!" the Wal-Mart paid shill cries into the camera). The last time I checked, the houses in the neighborhood across from that Wal-Mart (Leimert Park) were averaging over $500,000 a piece. And those are the cheap homes. The homes directly above that Wal-Mart (Baldwin Hills) go for one million plus. So much for accuracy in advertising. Anyway, I digress.

I'm getting the Esquire because I'm in line to pay my Internet bill. I thumb through the pages and begin reading an article on NBC anchor Brian Williams. The article is nice enough, until I get to one part. Brian didn't earn his degree. Now normally, that wouldn't mean anything to me. But the old database in my brain remembered a controversy Brian started a while back.

"NABJ Dismayed About Brian Williams' 'Perspective' On Diversity; Seeks Meeting With NBC Executives
WASHINGTON – The National Association of Black Journalists is disappointed and dismayed about comments attributed to Brian Williams, the new beacon for NBC News, regarding newsroom diversity and aims to meet with NBC executives to discuss the matter, NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Barbara Ciara said Wednesday.

Williams, who last week succeeded Tom Brokaw as primary anchor of NBC’s evening newscast, was asked in last month’s issue of United Airlines’ Hemisphere magazine: "There are few women and people of color in top jobs at news organizations. How do we address this lack of diversity?”

Williams replied: "We have bigger problems. There are no black members of the U.S. Senate. We should keep some perspective on this. Nevertheless, I am constantly interested to hear of examples in our coverage where viewers think we got it wrong in one way or another because of a skewed viewpoint.”

Now, I'm a member of the NABJ (although I need to pay this year's due asap) and I know what it is like to be the only black in a newsroom. So to hear diversity to be so flippantly disregarded is disturbing. But it's even MORE disturbing to hear that it's coming from someone who didn't get their degree in the first place. For many African Americans, there's a thought that you have to be OVERLY qualified to get the same job, and that means J-school, or Masters programs. So it's a kick in the teeth when someone without a degree has the audacity to say that diversity in the newsroom isn't important.

Then, as I tend to do, decided to do some more research. And guess what I found. ABC's Peter Jennings doesn't have one. And CNN's Aaron Brown doesn't have one either.

Don't get me wrong. Not having a degree is not a disqualifer for success. Hell, Bill Gates and Paul Allen don't have one either. And there are plenty of millionaires without having finished or even attending college. But in an industry where people decide what is news and what is not news (read: Natalie Holloway and the Summer of Missing White Women), it is important to have African American, Latino, women, and others in the newsroom giving opinions. And since "merit" and "most qualified" are terms which have been used as hammers against minorities in their efforts to integrate overly white institutions, I think it is only fair that we take a close look at whether the white guy without the degree is more qualified than the black one with. Or perhaps, what we're saying is that America considers the two to be equal? If so, that is truly illuminating.

The Network Matrix...

Okay, the network matrix is a made up term I use for marketing. But it basically works this way. Once you've identified your target demographic, you've got to study them so that you know everything about them. You need to know who they are, where they go to eat, what they like to watch, where they like to worship, etc. And then you have to make sure that your marketing is everywhere they are. Don't worry about them getting tired of seeing you, that doesn't matter. You should be in front of their faces so much that they are guided as by an unseen force to your book. Your target demo is moving from place to place, and constantly seeing your book. Your network is now in your marketing matrix. Escape is futile. lol

Now, this is the delicate part. I won't talk about what I'm going to do specifically to market Friends With Benefits, until the marketing is underway. My book is now in competition with other books for sales, so I'm not particularly interested in giving away my specific strategies. But even as vague as I'll be, any writers on here can use my general principles for their own books.

On another front, I am consolidating all of my stuff (writing/lectures/BlackCafeLit etc.) under one umbrella. In about a month, my company website RudeBoyMedia, will be up and running. I should have done this a while back because my accountant tells me there are certain tax benefits to doing it. But also, sometimes business won't write checks directly to individuals. That means I have to wait for payment as they get approvals, yada, yada. I hate waiting. So look for in a few more week.

Targeting Ones Markets Part II...

Below is a perfect example of why a writer has to target their market with precision.

My Double Life
By Tayari Jones

Publicity is a weird thing for writers. I’ve just come back from the second book tour of my career. The first time, in 2002, I went out on the road to promote Leaving Atlanta, a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the Atlanta Child Murders. My publisher, Warner Books, decided to package me as a “southern” writer. For the last couple of months, I’ve been on the road with The Untelling, another novel set in Atlanta. But this go round, I’m doing it as a “black” writer.

I know that we are a nation that strives for color-blindness, so it seems sort of inherently offensive to label a writer as “black”. But this is what happened to me, and I have to tell you that, for the most part, it wasn’t so bad. Especially when you compare it to my book tour as a “southern” writer.

As a southern writer, I was sent to all manner of small cities below the Mason-Dixon line. I made an appearance in Bylthesville, Arkansas. I stopped through Jackson, Mississippi and rolled through Oxford. I hit Birmingham and Montgomery. You get the idea. I was even sent to a trade show. I wasn’t invited to BEA, but I went to SEBA—the South Eastern Booksellers Association. My experience at SEBA was one of the worst since I have been in the publishing business. Although there are a great many black people in the southern United States, there were only three of us in attendance—Kentucky writer Crystal Wilkinson, me, and a woman who works for DC Comics. My publisher, Warner Books, sponsored the dinner where they would be featuring one of their new writers: the author of a magnificent work of art called Redneck Nation. As I sat there and listened to this guy crack tasteless joke after tasteless joke, I made a promise to myself: If he says the word “nigger” one more time, in any context, I am leaving. He said it. I left. I was later informed that I lacked irony. That I could not take a joke.

So this time, I have been packaged as a “black” writer. I have been assigned an African-American publicist who knows her market. Right out of the box, I was featured in Essence magazine, prompting about a zillion hits to my website. (With Leaving Atlanta I was reviewed in People and nobody cared.) Shortly after the piece was published, I gave a reading in Birmingham at Jefferson State Community College where I met an African American woman named Donna. After my reading, Donna took me more or less door to door at the university and announcing to every black woman on campus: “This is the author who was in Essence!” Each woman whipped out her checkbook and purchased at least one copy of each book, no questions asked.

This is not to say that I have only promoted my books at “black” events. Sometimes I feel like I went on two book tours at once. It’s almost like I am living a double life. I hired an independent publicist Lauren Cerand, an Anglo-American, who has done a fantastic job of booking me in a more “general” market. Here’s an example:

When planning my trip to New York City, Lauren booked me at Bluestockings on the Lower East Side, where I read with Maud Newton. There were about fifteen people in attendance. All white, except my good friend Doug and my student Eve. The next day, thanks to my African American publicist, I read at Chocolat martini lounge in Harlem. There were about thirty people there. All black except for Lauren. I sold a lot more books in Harlem. Even the waitresses bought copies since I agreed to wait until they had accumulated tips enough to make the purchase. Both were great events, but my experience on the road has really shown me that there are (at least) two Americas.

This is not to say that my experiences with the black book niche have been idyllic. There have been challenges which are specific to dealing with this market. Since many African American authors are self-published, a culture has emerged which assumes that books by black authors are printed on vanity presses. I occasionally (neurotically) go into bookstores and ask for my own book. More than once I have been told, “We don’t carry self-published books.” In Chicago this weekend, I went to an adorable independent bookstore and saw many novels by African American authors displayed behind the registers. What great placement! Then, the clerk whispered, “We keep them back here to discourage theft.” On several occasions, I have been asked by interviewers, “How did you make the leap from self-publishing to traditional publishing?” When I was in Phoenix, Arizona on my book tour, the escort called around and found out that none of the chains were carrying The Untelling. I asked my publisher why and was told flatly that since there was not much of a black population in Phoenix, we couldn’t expect (let alone demand!) that Borders and B&N in Phoenix order my book.

So what’s a writer to do? Of course I want to be universal. When well-meaning white people ask me “Is your book for everyone?” I assure them that it is and I believe that I am telling the truth. But since black readers and white readers seldom come to the same event, a writer and her publicity team usually end up selecting one audience to go for. I was lucky this time. I had money enough to hire a fabulous free-lance publicist who exposed me to audiences that are outside the niche-scope envisioned by my publisher. And since my publisher decided to acknowledge the fact of my race for this book, I was able to use their resources to reach the audience that probably loves me best.

And if I were even luckier, there would be no choice to make.

Tayari Jones is the author of The Untelling (Warner Books, April 2005) and Leaving Atlanta, which won the 2003 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. For more, please visit

The Real Name of Project X is...

Money Shot. Money Shot started off as a non-fiction book proposal on black porn, but editors were too scared that readers would be too embarassed actually buy it. I suggested that the book cover be a brown paper bag, but no go. However, they all said that the concept would make a great fiction novel, and so Money Shot the novel was born. Black non-fiction is a hard slog these days, so ya gotta adapt.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Battleplan Part II...

The guy to my left is Dale Carnegie and he wrote a little book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People". It's sold millions and millions since it was published in 1936. It's one of the first self-help books and is full of wit and clever phrases. At some point, everyone reads it. I read it back in high school and one thing always stuck with me. He had a little story where he talks about how he is a fisherman. And he also loves strawberries and cream. However, when he goes fishing, he doesn't try to catch fish with strawberries and cream. The point to this is that you have to understand your audience, hone in on your audience, and give them what they want.

That said, when I go about marketing Friends With Benefits, I must make sure that my efforts are narrow and my demographic is well defined. It isn't simply about marketing to black folks. That's too wide a net. It's not just about marketing to black women or black men. That's still too wide. I need to know the exact demographic I'm going after, and then hit that market HARD with marketing. And that means I need to create what I call a "network matrix". I'll talk about that later...

Friday, July 01, 2005

July 1st...Time for the Friends With Benefits Battleplan...

It's two months until the publication of Friends With Benefits, and it's time to start working my marketing plan. If you've noticed (or cared to check), the Amazon ranking of Friends With Benefits has fluxuated a lot. From a low of 1 mil to around 10k, it is going to continue to yo-yo as individuals begin buying books before it is released. Now it is time to start honing the FWB battleplan.

Here is my first goal:

I want to get Friends With Benefits on a few bestsellers lists. The immediate ones are:
Los Angeles Times & New York Times.

Since these two lists are weekly lists, you can get on those lists faster and then use that designation as a marketing tool for all of your promotions.

The Essence Magazine list is probably more important in the black community, but doesn't report until three months after FWB is published. Essence is a reliable list for black women to follow, and it might as well be a buyers guide. You want to be on that list month after month. My first book, The Divine Nine, was on that list over and over, and it definitely moved books.

As I've stated before, bestsellers lists are marketing tools. Nothing more, nothing less. They aren't as effective as word of mouth from friends you trust, but they can make your book a part of the conversation.

In order to get on these lists, you have to do booksigning at bookstores that report to these various lists. Sometimes you know which ones report, and sometimes you don't. Over the years, I've figured out many of them. Not all of the stores I sign in are reporting stores, however.

In a lot of ways, this is new for me. Cultivating the fiction reader is a lot different that going after the non-fiction reader. It is important to brand myself while forging a connection with readers who enjoy FWB. With non-fiction, your readers tend to buy the book for the topic. With fiction, the reader buys the topic, but also the writer and the writing style. They invest a lot in the writer and count on him/her to not let them down, book to book. My task is to get as many people as possible to make that investment.

Natalie Holloway...

If I were the family of Natalie Holloway, I would do all I could to find my daughter. That said, why is the American public subjected to around the clock coverage? Is her life more valuable than the fourteen year old Latino kid who died last night riding his bike? It's amazing how cynical the news cycle is and how they play up the sensational stories for all they are worth. Not just in the present day, but for all time.