Friday, October 7, 2011

Sadly, bad news may mean good business

You've probably heard that "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good." It's an ancient proverb that has come to mean that a wind that is bad for many people, can be good for others. The same windstorm that drives a boat off its course and onto the rocks might also help a becalmed sailing ship to reach home swiftly and safely -- and can power the windmills on the land. A wind that is no good for someone is unusual and ill indeed. Probably nothing is bad for everyone.


When I was in college in the 60s, I operated a slightly profitable business distributing anti-war pins. One said, "War is Good Business. Invest Your Son." Apparently 58,212 Americans were killed and 153,452 were wounded in the War in Vietnam -- plus about 2 million Vietnamese. Nevertheless, the war was good for arms makers, and for college kids who sold anti-war pins and bumper stickers.
 
As you probably know, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died this week. According to The Associated Press, "As macabre as it might seem, Jobs' death Wednesday will only add to the Apple mystique - and profit. The iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac will, no doubt, get a sales boost as consumers pay the ultimate tribute to one of America's creative geniuses. That could be especially true for the latest iPhone, scheduled to go on sale Oct. 14. The lines were going to be long anyway, but now there are bound to be even more people clambering for the iPhone 4S - the last device to be unveiled while Jobs was alive. It's a commercial phenomenon that has happened many times before, most recently when Michael Jackson's album and song sales rocketed after the pop singer died in 2009."
Simon & Schuster has  moved up the publication date of its forthcoming biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson from November 21 to October 24. As of this morning, the book is ranked #1 on Amazon's overall bestseller list and #1 on three other Amazon bestseller lists because of pre-orders (including my order).


In my Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide, I wrote, "Remember that the mere publication of your book is not usually sufficiently newsworthy to impress editors and writers. Only the most desperate small-town weekly would publish an article with the headline: 'Local Woman Writes Book.' Your news release needs a news hook. The hook is the main point of your release. It can be a theme, state­ment, trend or event on which you “hang” your news release.  If an important person just got married, promoted, fired, elected or killed, a book about that person should be newsworthy . . . ."

I certainly don't recommend that you murder someone you wrote about. But, if that person should die without your intervention, be prepared to take advantage of the promotional possibilities, like Simon & Schuster. You can be sure that biographer Walter Isaacson will be interviewed a great many times, and sell a great many books.

(top photo from "Gilligan's Island" TV show.)


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