From Zero To Hero


May 05, 2017

This story starts with an author.

You won’t know his name but you are likely to know his book: Diary of an Oxygen Thief. And what follows is a self-publishing marketing masterclass from someone who got everyone talking while staying anonymous.

In 2006, a writer was getting frustrated with publishing house rejections and decided to self-publish. Running off 1,000 hardcover copies, he approached bookstores and asked them to stock it. Independent bookstores, the sort frequented by his target audience of hip young things. Pretty soon he was being asked for more copies.

Then he started to approach bigger independent bookstores (the sort that had their own following of hip young things). This time he made some YouTube clips to market the book. The bigger independent bookstores agreed to stock it.

Then he made some posters. Funny, risqué, maybe shocking, with the book’s title on them. Some posters just showed the book’s cover (a snowman whose carrot nose has been …repositioned). He even began to get people to take pictures of themselves with the book – including any passing celebs in downtown New York. It became a ‘thing’ with its own Instagram account and 2,000 followers, thank you very much. He also signed up to a dating site with a fake profile and did some work promoting the book (it deals with love and obsession; actually just obsession) to get people interested.

When the book became one of Amazon’s top-60 sellers, publishing houses started to notice. The book was selling 1,000 copies a day either as trade paperback or eBook versions. Then Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books acquired the rights and began selling it. In its first three weeks, it sold 14,000 copies. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Except that’s not the end, or at least it’s not the point of this story.

When it is distilled like this, it seems like this process took no time at all and that it was easy.  Especially when you discover that the author is a trained marketing and advertising agent – of course the book’s publicity would be good – he knew what he was doing! But let’s not be so hasty to dismiss his achievements. He spent 10 years (10 years!) promoting his work in innovative ways on social media and good, old- fashioned pounding-the-pavements publicity. Oh and he just happened to write a great book too.

In our blog Marketing for Dummies, we discussed the fact that self-publishers need to master the art of marketing to give their work a chance. And that they need to be patient, spending time building strong links to the book’s target audience on social media sites. We also mentioned that this would take time and that self-publishers should be prepared to put as much work into this as they did writing the book in the first place. But even we are astounded by the dedication of the Diary of an Oxygen Thief’s author. Ten years of piquing people’s interest, cultivating a following, getting people talking, each time thinking what he could do next. This wasn’t so much a marketing campaign as a labor of love. It’s enough to take your breath away.

If you would like to explore self-publishing possibilities and see what support Amnet can offer, then get in touch today.