Monday, February 6, 2012

How To Win The Superbowl and Sell More Books

"The first ever, Tushdown! Or, the touchdown that wasn't supposed to happen."

If you're like me you like football. Good old, hard-hitting, American football. And if that's the case you probably caught the Superbowl last night. I'm a New Yorker so my favorite home team was playing in the game. The New York Football Giants. Having spent the weekend in New York with my new sig other and our daughter, I was particularly pumped up to catch the last big game of the season. With the New England Patriots and the dangerous quaterbacking of Tom Brady being our opponent, the game promised to be a high scoring scorcher.

It turned out to be anything but that.

Instead the game seemed at times, to be a like a carefully choreographed dance fueled more by what could happen than what would happen. Instead of the Giants utilizing their signature rough and tumble defense to maul Brady, they more or less stood back and allowed him to play his short game while at the same time, preventing him from making any big plays. Kind of the same strategy boxers use when they stand back against the ropes and allow their opponents to hit their arms and foreheads, but not give them the chance to land anything big.

The Patriots played the same kind of game. They allowed the Giants to complete short passes and runs, but prevented any real high scoring. It was a weird game in which the Giant's running back was told not to score. Huh? Time had run down to nearly the last minute and the Giant coaches, who no doubt consulted with their computers, decided that their odds of winning would be greater of they decided not to score a touchdown than if they scored and allowed Tom Brady to march back down the field with one minute on the clock. Instead, the odds would be better for the Giants if they stayed out of the end zone, allowed the clock to wind down to just a few seconds, then took their chances on a game winning field goal.

The Patriots were aware of this strategy also, and in turn ordered their defense to allow the Giants to score a touchdown...In the Superbowl...With one minute to go. What resulted was a Giant running back who bolted to the end-zone only to realize at the very last second that the Patriot defense wasn't trying to tackle him. He tried to pull back, but momentum forced him past the goal, tushy first.

It all turned out OK for the Giants, so I guess the Big Blue coaches, or their computers anyway, were right. But not right for the Patriots. Well, whether you're following me here or not, the whole thing just feels strange to me. It's not just football that's changing. Times are changing, and life as we knew it even five years ago is changing. Never before in my life have things seemed so different. I mean, sure, I wake up and write everyday like always, but it's the way I now conduct my life, my business, my relationships and my thoughts that seems so bassackwards, if you'll allow me to coin a phrase.

For instance: this past weekend, one of my indie publishers, StoneGate Ink, decided to run a promo of the special uncut edition of Moonlight Falls. In terms of changing times, this novel epitomizes the type of thing readers will see in the future in that's its a novel that features additional never before seen chapters and points of view than its originally published form. It's really quite the reading experience. But here's the thing, instead of lowering the price for consumers, they have offered it up for FREE for a limited time only. In turn, the book has shot to the No. 1 spot for Hardboiled Thrillers in the Free category and hit the top ten overall. It's moved something like 13000 copies in 24 hours. That's awesome, I guess. But as writers, aren't we supposed to want to sell our books for profit?

I guess the reasoning behind it all is that if readers enjoy the free copies of my work, they will then be willing to spend a little on the other books. That's what the computer program indicates anyway. I'll check my Amazon rankings for my other books like The Innocent and The Remains and see how they're doing today. Maybe my pub's strategy has paid off and the sales of those former Kindle bestsellers will be on the increase. Maybe not. Computers have been known to be wrong too, you know. Just ask the Patriots.

My newest major publisher is also far different from the publishing houses I knew only ten years ago. They're not even really a publishing house so much as a store. In fact, their computer-generated matrix marketing program virtually assures stellar sales via the Internet. And get this: as authors, we aren't discouraged from doing traditional book signings, but we aren't encouraged to do them either. With sales being fueled by the digital marketplace and the dominant form of reading being the e-Book, book signings are about to become an old fashioned method of selling your books. Book sales today are more about tagging, algirithms, social media pushes, limited-time freebies, blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, and just generally having little or no contact with real people. You just need a computer or a handheld Droid.

In a few weeks I'll speak to some young student writers enrolled in an International Journalism class at the state university. I'll talk a little about how to go about filing stories the traditional way to news agencies around the world while living or spending an extended length of time in a foreign land. But I'll rely heavily on the online opportunities and even then, I'll suggest that they not rely on getting "paid" work, but instead start their own blog in order to post their own stories in their own digital format. They can then monetize the blog while attracting a base of followers who will come to rely on them for newsworthy material, videos and photos. If they are good enough, they might get the stories out far quicker than the major media. If they are really savvy, they can Tweet their stories and U-Tube them with their Smart Phones as they happen. So you see, I'll be talking about becoming a foreign correspondent for a traditional news service, but then, this job really doesn't exist anymore. Because times are changing. The fact that you are reading this blog proves it.

Like I said at the beginning of this piece, I spent the weekend in New York with my new sig other and our daughter. Did you catch that one? "Our  daughter?" My new sig other is my old sig other, or my ex-wife. We are giving things a second chance because we still have strong feelings for one another, and hey, this is the modern world. There are numerous websites dedicated to rekindling things with the ex, and how to go about it so the odds are stacked in your favor. In short, you learn to allow your partner to play their short game so that you don't give up the big play. Or, said in another way, if you want your relationship to work this time, you no longer sweat the small things in order that you preserve the long-term goal. That is, being in love forever.

And the computer is right. We're doing fine and discovering new and great things about one another while we laugh about those small things that would have annoyed us even five years ago. Life is weird. Used to be, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But that notion doesn't exactly hold true anymore. Now I believe that the more things change, the the more things change.  

Get more Zandri novels: WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM



1 comment:

  1. Well - I guess I am unAmerican to admit that I didn't watch the Superbowl until my hubby made me watch the last minute and a half. As for your new/old sig - glad to hear things are going good--

    As for indie publishing? The world is changing fast and sometimes promotion like that works and sometimes it doesn't. And, don't let your publisher lose sight of the fact that money is important to keep you in the writing seat. You need it for those pesky essentials.

    Hugs - and all that jazz -

    Yours, Cyn