Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marcus Sakey: Social Media Marketing in the New World of Publishing

Marcus Sakey was an award-winning copywriter on brands ranging from JCPenney to World Championship Wrestling until he left the business to write novels. His books have been translated into a dozen languages, labeled “nothing short of brilliant” by the Chicago Tribune, and chosen among Esquire Magazine’s Top 5 of the Year. His latest, THE AMATEURS, will be released on August 6th. Marcus approached ADMAVEN to tell his story and detail how he uses social media marketing to go above and beyond traditional publisher driven advertising. I found his story compelling, and I am not receiving compensation for allowing Marcus to guest post. With that being said, Marcus will detail his story in three posts that will appear on ADMAVEN weekly.

First off, I’d like to thank ADMAVEN for having me—it’s an honor and a privilege.

I worked in television, design, and advertising for about ten years, and by the end, I was starting to feel like Milton from Office Space, the character who walks around mumbling, “I…I…I could set the building on fire.”

Not that I didn’t love the work. I did. I loved the energy and the creativity and the people and especially those moments when a good idea became a great campaign. But for years I had been putting off something that tempts most advertising folks. I call them “sock-drawer dreams,” the idea being that most of us have a screenplay or a series of paintings or an album rotting away in our metaphorical sock drawer.

And so finally, my wife and I split a bottle of wine, talked through the options, and decided now was as good a time as any. So the next morning I went in to work intent on quitting my job.

True story: I was laid off before I could get a word in edgewise. Karma has a sense of humor.

But it worked nicely. I took my severance package, rolled up my sleeves, and started work. About 18 months later, I had a two-book deal. I’ve been incredibly fortunate since, landing a four-book deal for my next contract, and seeing my novels optioned for film by Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire. While there are things I miss about the business, I love my new career.

But as it turned out, I wasn’t switching professions nearly as much as I expected.

There’s a lot of talk these days about how every brand needs to be accessible. In a decade we’ve seen multinational corporations try to get up close and personal; seen websites grow from a curiosity to a necessity; seen newspapers languish while Twitter explodes. And while nobody has every detail worked out, one thing that is stunningly clear is that a new way of thinking is required. Nobody can hide in their garret these days. Not even authors.

My “products” are my novels. They’re the most important part of the equation, and nothing can replace that. Whether you’re selling paperbacks or Pampers or politicians, the best place to start is with a good product.

But a good product still needs to be sold. Which means there’s a brand to build. Next week I’ll talk a little about the ways I’ve built, and continue to build, my own. From signings to blogging to social networking to Twitter contests, while you can take the guy out of advertising, you can’t take—well, you know the rest.

Read ADMAVEN next week for the second of three posts in Marcus Sakey's series on social media from an author's perspective.

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