Saturday, July 2, 2011

Michelle Moran, the Queen of Marketing

I went to a panel with Michelle Moran and her editor, Heather Lazare, where they discussed the author/editor relationship. What stood out to me was how fiercely Michelle advertised her first book, Nefertiti. She spent $50,000 of her own money to get the book out there. Since it was a best-seller, she clearly did something right.
The craziest thing she did was post an advertisement on I Can Haz Cheeseburger. Heather gave her a funny look and Michelle shrugged. “People who like Egypt like cats.”
She also got the book cover painted on her car. She called it the Nefertiti Mobile. “I got a lot of attention from that car,” she said, “but I don’t know if it was the kind of attention I was looking for.”
The coolest thing she does is go on skype with book groups. Can you imagine being in a book group and actually talking to the author?  That’s a brilliant idea. I wonder how many other authors do that?
Michelle and Heather kept mentioning the Target Book Club. They made a huge deal about it. Finally, I asked, “This might be a stupid question, but… are we talking about the clothing store?” I didn’t even know they sold books.
They said the Trinity of Advertising is Target, Walmart, and Costco. If you can get any of those places to carry your book or include them in their book clubs, it will change your entire career. I never would have thought of Costco as a center of art.
These three stores are so important, in fact, that when Target decided they didn’t like the cover to Nefertiti, Crown Publishing changed it. Target even said what kind of cover they wanted, and that’s what they got.
They didn’t even mention the Oprah book club. Nathan Bransford once said getting in Oprah’s club is like an act of God.
Michelle told me blogging was a waste of time. It takes so much effort and doesn’t get many readers. I knew it! People keep saying, “You have to have a blog, you’ll never be famous if you don’t have a blog, blah blah blah,” but I never believed it. Look at it this way; most of us read roughly 25-50 books a year. How many of those authors do you follow?
I have a blog for the social networking, because it’s fun, and because I have nothing better to do.
My dream has always been to be on the front island at Barnes and Nobles. I thought that was the peak of prestige. Come to find out, publishers pay to get those spots. If the book sells well in two weeks, the book store kindly offers for them to buy another two weeks.
I told Michelle that I found Madame Tussaud the same way I find all my books: it was on lists at Goodreads, and when you click on historical books in Amazon, it was often posted under, “If you liked this book, you’ll enjoy these.”
She echoed what Denise Dietz said; in the end, the most effective advertising is just writing a good book. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well-done is better than well-said.”


  1. I had never heard that Franklin quote. EXCELLENT.

    This puts an interesting spin on my marketing attack. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Wow. Never thought of painting my car1 That would certainly cause a stir in the small village where I live!


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