Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Would Goldie Hawn Do?

A couple of years ago, I was watching a “Biography” on Cher, who, let’s all say it together now, is pretty fucking awesome.  Anyway, no show about Cher would be complete without an examination of her Oscar-winning role in “Moonstruck.”  “Moonstruck” was distributed by the same studio that produced the Goldie Hawn rom-com, “Overboard.”  As the story was told in this “Biography” special, the studio released both films at the same time, but put its money and promotional push behind “Overboard,” because it didn’t think “Moonstruck had any commercial potential and would probably die a quick death.

Well…

“Moonstruck” became a sleeper hit, spurred by – you guessed it – word-of-mouth and went on to gross over $80 million at the box office, while “Overboard” earned $26 million.  “Moonstruck” was nominated for six Oscars and won three (including Cher as “Best Actress”) and is considered a classic movie, making numerous “Best Of” lists over the years. 

So why did “Moonstruck,” which got no support from the mothership, do so much better than “Overboard,” which did?  Obviously, “Moonstruck” just resonated with audiences in a way “Overboard” didn’t. 


Even when all things aren't equal,
what makes one movie succeed over another?
(Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia)

Did “Overboard’s” lack of commercial success keep Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell from making more movies?  Of course not.  If it had, it might have robbed us of her terrific performance in “The First Wives Club,” or his turn in “Breakdown,” a fantastic thriller with lots of mystery and heart-stopping moments.  They could have tucked tail and gone home after “Overboard,” meaning we would have missed out on the numerous other successful and critically-acclaimed movies they’ve made since.

Trying to forge a successful publishing career isn’t all that different than trying to make a successful movie—it’s hard.  You just never know what’s going to be a “hit.” I see a lot of indie authors get discouraged because their one book hasn’t scaled the bestseller lists.  So they give up.  Or it hasn’t brought publishers salivating to their door with six-figure contracts.  So they give up. They had a terrific KDP Select promotion and then their sales plummeted.  And so they give up.  The book isn’t getting reviews.  So they give up.

Whenever I hear and see these stories about an author ready to throw in the towel because none of the above have happened or wondering why nothing is moving the needle for their book, I always wonder 1) if they’re writing the next book and 2) what other promotional efforts they’re cultivating beyond total reliance on KDP Select Free Days.  Are they doing guest blog posts?  Building relationships with book bloggers for reviews?  Taking advantage of the countless opportunities offered by book blogs for free author interviews?  These are just a few things off the top of my head – there are certainly lots of other creative ways out there to help get you and your books noticed.

Publishing is hard –no one ever said it wasn’t.  It’s even harder when you’re going the road alone and are confined to a shoestring budget (or even a no-string budget) and have to do everything yourself.  What you can’t do is decide because your one book hasn’t made you the next publishing phenom, that you should give up.  If movie producers got discouraged because one movie didn’t do what they hoped, there would never be any movies.  Then what would we do when we’re supposed to be writing?

You have to keep writing and keep looking for ways to break through and find your readership.  It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight.  It might not happen until the third, fourth, fifth, even tenth book.   But keep at it and it will.

Speaking of, back to writing.

 

  

6 comments:

  1. Brilliant post, Bianca (and thanks to Katie Oliver for RTing so I saw it). Agree, agree, agree! It seems that so many publish a book, tweet it alot, then once the sales-and-reviews-from-friends have exhausted, chuck it out on free promotion immediately - then get understandably fed up when the free promotion doesn't have amazing results, like they've heard it has done for this and that person - but these people are the exception, these days, not the rule. Building a readership takes alot of effort and ingenuity - and, most of all, TIME. Apart from the few people who are still getting masses of success from a free promotion, they don't really work that well unless you have another book, or at least another one to be published soon; once everyone's downloaded your book for free they've got nowhere else to go! You're so right, it's patience, and hanging on in there, and working at making your next book better - also remembering that every time a complete stranger buys, reads and enjoys your book, you're on the right road. :)

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  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Terry (and as always thanks to the awesome Katie Oliver - I can't WAIT for her book to come out.) We can't pin everything on one book then when it doesn't pan out, mope about it. We can't all be overnight sucesses (and let's face it - most "overnight successes worked their asses off to be considered an "overnight success"). It's work, work, work. And then work some more.

    It's a marathon, not a sprint. :-)

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  3. AS I enter into the world of writing I needed to read this. Very insightful and give me the courage to keep writing!

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  4. Monique,
    I'm glad you found the post helpful! Don't give up - I'll look forward to hearing more about you in the future :)

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  5. I really connected with this post. I tell my family the same things all the time after they ask me about my sales numbers. I tell them the best marketing an author can do is putting another book out. And I'll you, the marketing side is a surprise boon, I love it! Thanks for the support!!

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  6. Robyn,
    The marketing CAN be fun - it's a chance to be creative and to connect with people! I love the relationships I've been forging and it wouldn't be happening if I stuck my head in the sand.

    And having a backlist is so crucial. As Terry said, when someone reads your book, they're looking for the next one (as a reader, I do this all the time). We should always have something in the hopper, ready to go.

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