Monday, March 26, 2012

Savvy Secrets of Success

Savvy Secrets of Success: What Do Charles Dickens and Lady Gaga Share?
by Jacqueline Seewald

Charles Dickens and Lady Gaga are examples of celebrities that respectively had and have the ability to build a platform, a brand, that’s hugely successful. Charles Dickens’s novels were vastly popular. Part of that had to do with knowing how to become a literary superstar. Modern day Lady Gaga is also a genius at self-promotion and creating publicity. So what are the secrets to their success? And how can that help the rest of us? What makes Dickens and Gaga so popular and therefore successful?

Dickens was born exactly 200 years ago. He didn’t come from wealth—quite the opposite. He drew upon his childhood experiences to write vivid, memorable scenes. In his youth he wanted to be an actor but worked as a reporter. Later on, he wrote wonderful books—however, he wrote for money. He also wrote for his audience. He cultivated a large readership by providing dramatic readings. And he knew how to merchandise as well, for example, timing “A Christmas Carol” for the holiday season.

As for Lady Gaga, she has also invented herself as a public persona. Her elaborate costumes may be a disguise of sorts but they are part of her creativity. People may want to hear her sing, but they also want to comment on each new outlandish costume creation. No problem for Gaga to write a bestseller if she chooses or call attention to bullying as she has done in launching the Born This Way Foundation.

So what can we learn from these two celebrities in launching our careers? Probably that we need to draw from our own experience of life, to be genuine, to embrace others, talk to people, let them know we exist. Key words are the three P’s: promotion, publicity, and platform.

Here’s a checklist of promotional tools intended to create publicity and build a platform for authors with a new novel:

l. Establish a website.

2. Create a blog.

3. Volunteer to guest blog.

4. Send out news releases.

5. Make public appearances (libraries, bookstores, etc)

6. Get involved in social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.)

We may need to think outside the box to be as creative in publicizing our work as Dickens and Gaga. My latest novel DEATH LEGACY, a romantic mystery thriller, is on the launch pad. I am currently offering a Goodreads giveaway of three advance review trade paperback size copies of my novel. (It’s a start!)

Any thoughts or comments are very welcome in this forum.


Susan Whitfield said...

Jacquie, we certainly do have to pull out the bells and whistles evermore now that over a million books are published yearly, and that will probably double with folks being able to create their own digital copies. Interesting comparison of Poe and Gaga.

Susan Whitfield

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Susan,

Thanks for dropping by. You're so right! At one time, all we had to do was write a book. The publisher took it from there. That's no longer the case. The world is changing at a break neck pace as is the publishing industry which is in a state of revolution.

Linda Lovely said...

Jacqueline--Good reminder that the basics of promotion never change, just the technology. We need to use new tools but remember that the purpose is to communicate, to reach potential readers

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Linda,

You're right. It is all about reaching out to readers. So important to communicate with them and inform them about our work.

Tara Manderino said...

Interesting comparison. Considering Dickens form of mass media when he was writing, he had done amazingly well.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Tara,

Dickens still sells lots of books.
But he sure knew how to get his name out there when it mattered most. Like I said, we can learn a lot from his example.

T.W. Fendley said...

Hi, Jacquie--Loved the comparison! What I'd love to know is how Lady Gaga (and Madonna, etc.)will stack up against others over time. Will they make the long-haul like Dickens? As you say, lots to learn from them today insofar as knowing their audience.

Unknown said...

Interesting blog, Jacquie. Like the comparison between Dickens and Lady Gaga. The publishing world is changing so dramatically and so many more authors are entering the field, it's become an important aspect of authorship to promote, promote, promote. Your list is excellent.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, T.W.,

Dickens probably is the better role model for us.

Betty Gordon said...

Jacquie, intersting blog and loved the comparison between Dickens and Lady Gaga. Lady Gagy certainly knows how to pull in the public in this crazy era of many, many singers, but she has a good voice to back her picturesque costumes, etc. The same oblligation as authors -- we have to present solid work to back up our publicity. It is always easier for me to tout someone else's work rather than my own.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Christy,

Thank you for your comment. I hope my list is helpful for other writers.

Nancy Means Wright said...

Excellent advice, Jacqueline. I try to do it all but sometimes lose my way: how much time for each? And what about my large extended family? The mewling cats? The unfinished novel? Time that is sweeping forward, hour by quick hour, and my life and work are unfinished?
Well, back to the work-in-progress--and then to Facebook.

D'Ann said...

This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, so thanks much!

Anita Page said...

Great advice, Jacqueline. As Nancy said so well, balancing our time isn't easy. Just to share my partial solution, I've given up dusting and weeding.

Pauline said...

I've become a huge fan of Kristen Lamb's social media ideas. The world has changed so much, but one thing hasn't change: how readers connect with a book. It's very personal. Charles Dickens certainly managed to do that, and do it in a time w/o internet. I guess we are lucky/unlucky that we have the net. LOL!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Nancy, Anita, D'Ann, Pauline,

Thank you all for your insightful comments. It really is hard to balance everything, the writing, the networking, and of course most important, time for family and friends. But we are all women of many talents!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Betty,

You are so right about writers needing a good product. All the promotion in the world won't help is the work isn't good. Hopefully, word of mouth will be good for all of us. Wishing us all many satisfied readers!

Eloise Hill said...


You are so right, especially about the branding, which both Dickens and Lady Gaga seemed to be born for.

All the best for Death Legacy:)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thank you for the good wishes, Eloise.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Great list, Jacqueline.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

What's hard is standing out in the crowd online. I am wondering what to do to spice up my Facebook author page. What can we do to keep our readers coming back time after time?

Maryannwrites said...

I do think the branding is easier for some people. I'm still trying to figure out mine. I have always been an eclectic writer, so I don't fit easily into a slot. Maybe I should focus on costume issues, but I'm not sure how I would look in a dress made out of meat. Nor am I sure what effect that would have on my animals. LOL

Polly Iyer said...

Both Dickens and Lady Gaga got/get off on the notoriety and exhibitionism. Some of us don't, which makes it harder to "sell" our wares, or more specifically, ourselves. I don't have a blog, guest when invited, and do participate in the social networking. But I sure wish I had some of Lady Gaga's chutzpah. Great blog post, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Thanks for dropping by and I'm glad the checklist seems useful to you.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


I think you do a great job of getting the word out. Of course, as has already been noted, the best way to promote a book is by writing a good one. That way readers spread the word. You've already accomplished that!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Maryann,

I'll say the same thing to you that I did to Nancy: you also write a fine book of quality. So I guess you don't have to wear a meat dress after all!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Polly,

Most writers are not exhibitionists. Of course, getting publicity certainly helps. It's a bit easier for nonfiction writers since they can be considered authorities in the area they write in.

Joyce Yarrow said...

Am late to the party Jacqueline but as usual I found your post to be well thought out and stimulating.

What came to mind is that one of Dickens' best strategies for building readership was serializing his stories - a practice that began ages ago with Scheherazade telling stories in the Arabian Nights. As we all know, many novels from the Victorian era first appeared as weekly installments in magazines or newspapers.

The New York Times Magazine serialized a Michael Connelly book a few years back and I wish there were more opportunities out there in this respect - maybe it's time for a revivial! Any ideas? :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

If only we didn't have to do that public appearance part...then I'd be so much happier.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joyce,

Serializing books is a great idea for getting readers. Wish our own age was as amenable to publicizing writers in newspapers and magazines.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Pat,

Yes, I'm a shy person too and get nervous when I have to do a presentation--stage fright. But it always seems to come together all right. Still, I haven't had any opportunities lately.

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