The book in question is the autobiography of Bill Veeck, Veeck as in Wreck.
Clients ask me for marketing tips all the time. Of course, a cynic might think: “If he were that good at marketing, he’d probably be writing and pushing his own books.” Most authors hate marketing and think it’s icky; they just want to write, publish, and let their work rise on its merits. Well, it is icky. It’s like picking up after your dog icky. However, if you do not pick up after your dog, your back yard is not a fun place.
Other than how to approach Amazon reviewers, there is not a lot of useful stuff I can tell people about marketing books. The cynic above? S/he is quite correct about me.
The author who refuses to embrace marketing, and who insists that it’s a commercial rather than a vanity book, should be writing fantasy. That’s because that stance is indicative of a very active and fertile imagination, an ability to suspend disbelief in the face of obvious evidence. This should enable him or her to come up with some amazing alternate realities.
I believe that all projects should begin with a fundamental mindset. Winston Churchill knew it. His six-volume WWII memoirs, which are some of my favorite reading, began with a Moral of the Work:
“In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.”
One may debate the moral, its applicability to the telling of history, or whether Churchill lived up to it in life. He did establish a mindset, and one supposes it guided him. Thus it is with writing, or the marketing of writing. If the mindset toward marketing is that it’s icky, I see a high probability that the result will reflect the mindset. That means the author doesn’t sell very many books, and perhaps even takes a net loss after all the initial expenses are considered.
So; mindset before all. And that’s why authors seeking marketing tips must read Veeck’s book.
- It is about growing up around and operating baseball teams.
- It is about breaking attendance records, even with lousy teams.
- It is about one’s approach to the public.
- It is about just enough chicanery.
- It is about an unconventional mentality.
- It is about marketing without fear, shame, or guilt.
- It is about how to treat those with whom one works.
- It is about having fun, and plenty of laughter, while practicing all of the above.
If authors let some healthy portion of Veeck’s rollicking, fun-loving, generous, brass-balled, loyalty-building, establishment-defying, disability-defying, fiscally savvy, opportunistic mindset sink into their marketing approach, there is further point in discussing strategies. They will have a mindset, a guiding attitude, and will thus be able to carry out those strategies without feeling like they are picking up dog turds.
If they decline to read it, or read it and decide that marketing is still icky and they just want to write, I will be delighted to serve as their editor and will not bother them any more about reading Veeck’s book. However, they should know that I’ve already given them my best marketing advice, from my limited storehouse of same, and that I may not have much else of use to tell them about how to get people to buy books.
*I can’t finish a discussion of a book written with Ed Linn without a shoutout to his efforts as co-author. I have read several sports books written ‘with Ed Linn.’ Mr. Linn has passed on in recent years, but he happens to be one of my best examples of voice. All of Veeck’s books with Mr. Linn sound consistently Veecky. Others, with other autobiographists, sound like those persons. When I edit multiple POV first person fiction, I remind myself that those voices must, must, must differ, must match to the developed characters, and must further the speaker’s development.