Jun 30

Reasons Why I Am Buying / Not Buying Your Book

book blue 300I’m buying your book because:

  • You are my close friend.
  • You are my former student or client.
  • The subject interests me.
  • I’ve read the first page and want to read more.
  • I’ve got the cash on me.
  • I want to encourage you to write more.
  • No one else is buying it and I’m embarrassed for you.
  • You’re selling it at a discount.
  • I was present at your reading and enjoyed the reading.
  • A pity purchase might put me in your good graces.

Jun 16

From "Complaining is Like Bad Breath" to Bestselling Author

This past week the St. Louis Publishers Association brought in best-selling self-help author Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister who started a 21-day "No Complaining" campaign at his church, handing out purple rubber bracelets. When the participants caught themselves complaining the bracelet had to switch arms. “Complaining is like bad breath,” he said. Word spread about this concept and before Bowen even wrote a book he'd been on Oprah Winfrey's show. Then he decided to write a book. He told us all about it.

After being turned down by one agent and then sucked into the scam "New York Literary Agency," he contacted the agent he wanted and got him. The book, A Complaint-Free World, became a monster bestseller--especially in China. Chinese book piracy is rampant, but Bowen's publisher undercut the six pirated editions by pricing the genuine book for less than the pirates charged, and bundling the bracelet with the book. The Chinese publishers also broadcast a weekly cartoon starring an animated Will Bowen on various positivity adventures, and booked him for a fashion shoot (he’s trim, bald and wears an earring) for Asian Harper’s Bazaar. “Now, those people are creative,” he said. “Most U.S. publishers try pretty hard but they really have no idea how to do it [marketing].” He went to Toastmasters to learn to speak, and arranges his own speaking engagements: one church per week. His intention for his new book is to sell 2.6 million copies.

Other things Will Bowen said:

  • The joke is that the Random House-Penguin merger will create a publisher called Random Penguin.
  • “Publishers want to build on the last big thing but are very conservative about the next big thing.”
  • Hard-copy books will become extinct.
  • “Everybody has doubts, but most people won’t face the doubts.”
  • “We judge a book by how well it’s edited. There is nothing more important.”
  • An author goes through three stages with an editor. 1) “I hate you.” 2) “You might have a point there.” 3) “Thank you.”
  • “The editor is always right.”
  • The formula for success: “Success equals consistency over time.”
  • He knew an author bent on making The New York Times bestseller list. This guy, who had money, went to every bookstore he could and bought up 25,000 copies of his own book, which got him on the bestseller list.


Bowen believes in writing down his goals each day, writing daily, and having a wish board. He wanted Maya Angelou to write a foreword for one of his books, but she is reclusive and doesn't do favors. He pasted a photo of Angelou on his wish board and told everyone he met that he wanted to meet Maya Angelou. One day he told an actual friend of Maya’s who arranged the meeting. I guess they spoke about positivity. Bowen tape-recorded what Angelou said and asked if that might become the foreword to the book, and she agreed. Thus, "foreword by Maya Angelou." That's a heck of an endorsement.

I’m skeptical about lists and wish boards, but they can’t hurt, and increasingly I’m becoming convinced that writing is becoming a spiritual rather than professional pursuit. I know I went home from Bowen’s talk inspired, and boldly did something I’d never imagined I’d do, which I’ll blog about next.

May 08

I'm Rich and Devoid of Common Sense

  • If sending out a mass e-mail to 5 million perfect strangers, at a cost to you of $2,359, sounds to you like an effective way to market your self-published book. . .
  • If you think establishing an author website or a book website* will make your book sales soar. . .
  • If it sounds like a good idea to spend $1,387 to submit the link from your website to 3,000 websites with no guarantees that any of them will post your link. . .
Marketing.YenchenSupport.com is for you. I'm in some sort of database of self-published authors. Yenchen phoned me this morning. When I expressed interest in their company, of which I had never heard, they passed my call up to a guy who spoke better English and told me all about their services for self-published authors. If I signed up today I'd get 30 percent off.

I wish at this time to let everyone know that "self-published" does not mean "rich" or "naive" or "devoid of common sense."

*All authors should have such a site, but such sites aren't sales tools. They are contact tools. When was the last time you bought a book through an author's website?