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Posts Tagged ‘Academy Awards’

7 things authors can learn from watching the Oscars

Perhaps you were one of the tens of millions who tuned in to watch Hollywood’s biggest night — the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Oscar parties aren’t just for the Hollywood elite; some average folks do it up big, with red carpet events, replete with voting and awards for most correct guesses. Whether you attended a private Oscar gala or watched from the comfort of your couch in an old pair of sweats, Savvy Book Marketers can take a few lessons from watching the Academy Awards.

  1. There’s no accounting for taste. My father used to repeat this phrase again and again, usually with the not-so-thinly veiled intention of letting me know he didn’t like what I was wearing, reading, writing, watching, etc. Well, I saw five of the nine films nominated for Best Picture and liked two of them, but even those didn’t seem strong enough to receive Best Picture nods. So it’s true. There is no accounting for why one person loves a movie  or a book  and another hates it. That’s great news for authors, because it means there’s probably an audience for your book somewhere. If you’re writing a business book, it might help to know what the audience wants first. If you’re writing fiction, you may have to go out and find your audience. Either way, your audience is out there waiting for you to connect with them.
  2. The best nominee doesn’t always win. A friend of mine feels Viola Davis was robbed last night. That’s not mine to say. Sometimes, the Academy coalesces around an actor you don’t think deserves to win. The same can be true of books. Ever wonder why a certain middling writer becomes popular? (A) They’re in the right place at the right time. (B) It’s who they know. (C) A little luck goes a long way. (D) All of the above. Create your own luck by leveraging all or your resources to position yourself to your own best advantage.
  3. You’re never too old. With nearly 200 acting credits to his name  some of them truly outstanding performances  one would have thought Christopher Plummer might have won an Oscar before now. Not only did it take till this year for him to earn the honor of oldest Oscar winner ever at age 82, but he was not even nominated until 2009. If you’ve been telling yourself you can’t write this book because you’re too old, throw that excuse out the window. Age is just a number, and it has no impact on your ability to write, publish, market, and sell a great book.
  4. Don’t do it for the glory. With 17 Oscar nominations, Meryl Streep was lauded last night as the actor with the most nominations of all time. Yet it was 30 years between last night’s win for her role in The Iron Lady and her prior win for Sophie’s Choice. But who would argue that she has made anything but amazing films in those last 30 years? While it may be true that it’s just an honor to be nominated, had she been motivated by the glory alone, she might have given up a long time ago. If you write with passion, your audience will feel that passion and connect with you much better than if you write for the paycheck or the glory.
  5. Make it long enough, but no longer. Did you notice that the awards program ended at 9:38 last night? Yes, they’ve shortened things up a bit by having one presenter hand out multiple awards, but this show felt uncharacteristically short. Additionally, I saw only one winner go over time with their acceptance speech. One of the first questions new authors often ask me is “How long should my book be?” Like the Academy Awards, it should be long enough, but no longer. Of course, if it’s 50 pages, it’s more like a booklet than a book, but there’s a new trend toward short works, so that may be a good thing. Write long enough to thoroughly cover your topic  then stop.
  6. Hire an entertaining host for your event. What would the Oscars be without the host? A circus with no ringmaster, essentially. But as we saw last year, the experience and skill of the host makes a big difference. Fame and beauty aren’t enough to carry the job. Having a host for your book launch event enables you to be fully present without worrying over all the details. You’re there to read, talk, answer questions, and sign books. You don’t have to greet the guests, serve the food, coordinate the seating, or bother about any of those details. Whether it’s one helper or a team, get others involved in your book launch.
  7. Rehearse your speech ahead of time. After watching about a half-dozen people fumble through their acceptance speeches, my husband turned to me and asked, “If you knew you were nominated, wouldn’t you prepare a few words, just in case you won?” Yes. Yes I would. And authors, you never know who you’re going to  meet, so make sure you’ve rehearsed a brief description of your book well enough that when the time comes, you can say it without fumbling or going on and on till the other person walks away out of boredom. Rehearse your book pitch till it rolls off your tongue fluidly!

Happy movie watching!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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The Art of Captivation: What makes us LOVE that book, movie, song…?

You probably have one of your own. That CD or MP3 you’ve listened to 1,000 times. For me, it’s the first 3 songs from U2’s Joshua Tree (Side A for you old-school vinyl enthusiasts). I’m not sure what it is about The Edge’s primal guitar beat that is so captivating, but it is as intoxicating to me as any drink. I hear the intro to “The Streets Have No Name” and I want to climb inside the music. Add an open car window on the freeway at midnight, and I’m in heaven.

Right now, you might be relating, or thinking I have terrible taste in that overblown Irish quartet. The point isn’t that you agree with my taste, but that you can relate to the concept of music you absolutely love.

 

These passionate responses are not exclusive to music. What about that movie you’ve watched dozens of times? The painting that mesmerizes you? The book that’s falling apart, you’ve read it so many times?

What makes them so special? Although there are general success indicators, the answer to that question is personal to each of us.

For example, the music industry has distilled the prediction of hit records (primarily from new artists) down to a science. Ever wondered why so many hits have such a similar sound? It might be related to the fact that music researchers in labs hook up test subjects to electrodes and measure their responses to numbers of beats, rhythms, and tones. The studios then generally take risks only on those artists whose music meets the standards predicted by the research.

Similarly, a guy decided to research what makes an Academy Award-winning movie. He got copies of 25 years’ worth of Oscar winners, watched them, and dissected and recorded the similarities between them. Then, he turned his research into a screenwriting class for which he charges thousands of dollars. Not surprisingly, many of his students sell their scripts and see them made into films.

Even with these behind-the-scenes “manipulations,” not every song the studios release becomes a hit, nor does every screenplay from this man’s class become a movie. They are indicators, though.

One thing I’ve observed about most popular art forms is that they’re usually of decent quality. Of course, every now and then a lousy book or movie finds a cult following, but more often than not, the things we like as a culture are pretty good. However, even the most popular books, movies, and music will never appeal to everyone.

As a personal example, it’s just in the last 15 years that I’ve begun to like the Beatles. And to this day, I’m still not a fan of one of the most popular bands of all time, The Rolling Stones. Both inarguably quality artists, but one appeals to me much more than the other, and even that one took some time to grow on me.

What does all of this have to do with you and marketing your book? A few quick reminders:

  • If you want to sell books, make the best book you can.
  • There are success formulas; one of them may work for you.
  • When it comes right down to it, taste is individual. Some readers will resonate with you; those are the ones you want to find and cultivate.
  • Even if you hit a home run with your book, there will be some people who don’t like it.

Study the movies, music, and books you love; pay attention to what about them captivates you. Are there hints you can glean about developing and capturing a similar passion in your readers?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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