You don’t have to be the first to make a creative idea work
Here are three different, but related, definitions of creativity:*
“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one… What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
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“Creativity is generating new ideas and concepts, or making connections between ideas where none previously existed.” – Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer, SmartStorming
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“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” – Einstein, quoted in Creativity, Design and Business Performance
My favorite part about these definitions is the idea that creativity is the ability to create something new that did not previously exist OR the ability to see something that has existed before in a new way or with a new purpose.
I think this is a very healthy way to approach book marketing. Sometimes it feels like all the good ideas have already been taken, that there really is nothing new. That doesn’t have to be a hindrance. Henry Ford is often – incorrectly – credited for creating the assembly line. In actuality, he didn’t create the assembly line; he repurposed it from a meat packing plant. But it was his use that caught the world’s attention, because it meant fabricating cars at a speed previously unimagined. And the idea soon caught on in all of manufacturing.
Where can you use what you’ve seen another author do to generate an idea for your own book marketing? One of the most creative ideas I’ve ever seen – and yet the most obvious – was by a gal who wrote a murder mystery that took place in a hair salon. She scheduled a series of book signings in hair salons! How perfect is that? First, it complements her theme. Second, what do women sitting for long sessions have time to do? READ!
So I’m willing to bet that your novel doesn’t take place in a hair salon. But it takes place somewhere. And it has characters with careers and hobbies and interests. Where are the natural venues for your book events?
Say you wrote a nonfiction book that doesn’t have characters. What is your book about? My husband is a guitar instructor who’s writing a book about learning the guitar. Natural venues for his book events are music stores and bars/restaurants that feature musical acts. What if he could schedule his book event during the intermission between two acts at a concert venue? Think he’d get any attention? Regardless of your topic, there are more than likely at least several places – or kinds of places – that are perfect for you and your book.
And don’t limit yourself to brick-and-mortar locations. What about the possibility of a non-book online retailer selling your book? If yours is the only book they sell, do you think you’d stand out and get attention? One of my clients has written a novel called The Audacious Ladies of La Gran Sorellanza, about group of mob wives who get together to help stop child trafficking in the sex trades. It’s set in the 1950s, before there were as many safeguards and groups teaching awareness as there are today. Yet this vile crime still persists. So we’re working to reach out to contemporary anti-trafficking and parenting organizations to create partnerships. One option is to encourage them to use the book as a fundraising tool. The author will discount the book so that the groups can make money, but she’ll still make a profit, too. And because the book is self-published, she even has the option to offer each group a personalized page in the book!
Again, you don’t have to be the first author to employ a creative idea. Saturday’s Arizona Republic newspaper featured a story about a group of elite hotels in Vail, Colorado, that hosted its own Housekeeping Olympics to celebrate International Housekeepers Week for their staffs. This annual recognition week is 33 years old, begun in 1981 by the International Executive Housekeeping Association to “focus attention and recognition on the professional housekeepers working in facilities such as hospitals, hotels, state facilities, colleges/schools, and many others who maintain a cleaner, safer, healthier environment for us all each and every day.”*
And the Housekeeping Olympics have been going on for at least 25 years in the U.S. However, reading Saturday’s paper was the first time I ever recall learning about this longstanding tradition. Was the Colorado event an original idea? Not at all. So what made it newsworthy? The fact that a different caliber of hotels created their own private event.
Here’s my challenge – you knew it was coming, didn’t you? Let go of the thought, “There are no new ideas” and replace it with, “How can I revamp or revitalize that old idea?“
Here’s to implementing your awesome, creative marketing ideas!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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