Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm Not Famous ... Why Would Anyone Read My Book?

People have long had a fascination with the famous among us. From the early days of moving pictures, broadway shows, and sold-out baseball games or concerts, the “regular” people -- meaning those who paid to see others perform -- have always wondered what it would be like to be famous. You remember how the popular TV show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” gave us a glimpse into the daily activities of celebrities. That morphed into “Cribs,” “Real Housewives,” and other shows we now call “Reality TV,” where we get to see how famous folks live. 

Often, these celebrities write tell-all books that become bestsellers. And that causes would-be authors -- the regular people -- to believe that if they aren’t famous, their book will be a flop and end up on the shelves of their local Goodwill store with a $.25 cent price sticker. Bummer! Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be famous to be a successful author. What you need is a story, a hook, a platform, and a plan. 

Fame doesn’t guarantee the success of your book. Many a celebrity book has met with less than enthusiastic reception. HuffingtonPost has a roundup of some of the recent flops ... and trust me, there have been many, many more. So how does fame figure into your book project? Think about it this way, if writing a book was critical to being famous, the book would come first, right. We all knew of Paris Hilton before she wrote her tell-all flop, “Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peak Behind the Pose.” I bet you’ve never heard of her book. Celebrities don’t become famous because they write a book. They’re famous first, and then they write the book in hopes of staying in the spotlight. 

Of course there are many famous authors. For real authors like Dean Koonz, Amy Tan, David Baldacci, Alice Walker, Anne Rice, Deepak Chopra, or John Grisham, fame came as a result of their books, not the other way around.  

People don’t buy your book because you’re famous. People buy your book because you can help them solve a problem, feel better, escape from reality, be more efficient, get rid of their “baggage,” live healthier, envision a better life, become more successful, learn something, get outside their comfort zone, etc. You get the picture. Your book is the answer to the question some people have asked themselves for years, or the answer to the question many never thought to ask, but now that you’ve brought it up in your book, hmmmm, that’s pretty interesting!

Although people are drawn to books by famous authors and celebrities, remember that bookshelves in libraries and bookstores, and listings on the websites of online booksellers are filled with books by lesser-known authors. And these are some great books! Well-known authors may have the advantage of name and fame, but there’s always room for more good books. 

So what’s my point? Get over the idea that you have to be famous to be a successful author. Get over the idea that your book will make you famous. If you want to be famous, learn to twist your body into a weird pose and then go on “America’s Got Talent.” If you want to be a great author, write ... don’t whine! 

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