Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Lessons (for every day)

A usually reliable source told me that Target was offering my choice of either a one-terabyte internal hard drive or a half-terabyte external hard drive for $60 as a door-buster limited-stock special today. I arrived at my nearby Target at 4:50 a.m. and was told they were sold-out.

Next stop was Sam's Club, which was advertising an amazing deal on an HP laptop with Windows 7, 17.3" LED-lit screen, Blu-ray player and sundry bells and whistles for just $499, about 4-500 bucks less than a "normal price."

Alas, I was told these were sold-out, too. I asked a second person and got the same bad news. I asked a third person and she offered to check in the back.

She found two, and I bought one. It's WONDERFUL. It's MAGNIFICENT. I LOVE it. HURRAY for HP.

Thinking that my luck might have changed, I went to a second Target.

The drives I found on the shelf were external only. I asked one bearer-of-the-coveted-red-shirt, who said the internal drives were sold-out. A second scarlet-clad "guest advisor" advised me of the same situation. A third person with a bullseye on his belly said that the cashier had some behind the counter, and I should get on line.

After 15 minutes I reached the head of the line. I asked the cashier if there were any internal drives left and she said, "yes, but just a few."

Smiling, I decided to push my luck and I asked if there was any limit on the quantity I could buy. I started salivating when she said there was no limit, and I asked for four.

She bent down below the counter and came back up with a stack of four boxes, clearly marked "EXTERNAL."

I told her that I wanted INTERNAL.

She asked me what the difference is between internal and external.

I told her to ask her gynecologist.

Another red-shirted Targeteer who had observed our interaction checked the ad and determined that for $60 I could have my choice of either a half-gig or full-gig EXTERNAL hard drive. Target did not have any special deals on internal drives. (In retrospect, internal drives are much too geeky for a store like Target to sell and I should have been suspicions of my reliable source and checked the ad myself.)

So, I got a nice laptop, a 42" TV for the guest room, a bunch of Blu-ray movies and a free breakfast (at Sam's), some more Blu-rays and an external hard drive (at Target), a couple of pairs of pants and an inexpensive video camera to keep in my briefcase (at Kohl's), and a ton of drill bits and about a dozen flashlights (at Lowes).

I also learned three important lessons: (1) A reliable source is not always reliable, (2) Don't trust anyone wearing a red T-shirt with a bullseye on it, and (3) Never take "no" for an answer.



  1. On 11/13 you blogged about buying a new HP desktop PC, and today you bought a new HP laptop.

    You bought two PCs in two weeks.

    You most be selling tons of books.

    What's your secret?

  2. To Sharon:

    The secrets are in my book about self-publishing. (grin)

  3. Hey Michael-- I'm curious too, Mr. Bestseller! Actually, good for you-- I'm jealous that you know what to do with an internal hard drive. So you're a computer guru, bestselling author... great cook, perhaps?

  4. Hi Christy...

    The basic strategy was to start putting material online as early as possible to increase the number of Google links to mentions of my title, as well as to my websites.

    I followed the corrupt Chicago advice to "Vote Early and Often."

    I also used a paid PR-release blast about two weeks after the pub date, and I pay for Google AdWords pointing at the book on Amazon.

    Back on 11/6, there were 971 links to my title, and links were growing by 20-30 per day. Lately they've been increasing by a hundred or more per day, and today's total is over 5000 -- an increase of over 4,000 links in three weeks.

    The links to my book from searches for my book title are less important than links to my book from searches for key phrases.

    A search for "self-publisher" shows two links to my book (on Amazon & B&N) on the first Google page, which I think is prety amazing, since Google has about 86,000 links for the phrase.

    The book also has the two top positions in a search for "self publisher" in Google Shopping and in Google Books (which seem to have recently merged).

    A search for the probably better "self-publish" has the book at #44.

    It's not hard to install a hard drive. All it takes is a screwdriver and a few minutes (as an add-on) or a few hours (as a replacement).

    Great cook? No. But good enough, and an enthusiastic eater. See