So, this is something I haven’t actually done before, but have been thinking about starting for the past few months — having guest posts.
Today, I would like to welcome the author of No Return, Zachary Jernigan… He’ll be speaking about his rather unusual promotional tool — Space unicorns.
On the day I discovered that I’d sold my debut novel, No Return, I began thinking of promotion ideas. Maybe that seems a little too calculating, a little too market-minded — y’know, for an ARTIST — but I was excited about getting my book in as many hands as possible. For me, the whole point of writing the novel was to communicate something to people, and how could I do that if no one knew it existed?
Now… I’m not an Amanda Palmer fan. At all. But I do like her emphasis on creating a personal connection with fans, of letting them into your life. I’m not a private person even slightly; nor am I someone who takes himself all that seriously; and so when I think of promotion I tend to arrive at odd solutions that many might consider goofy, unclassy, or even embarrassing.
This is how I arrived at the idea of drawing space unicorns. I was on Facebook one day and inspiration simply struck. I’d just gotten a sheaf of art paper and some art pens from my sister for Christmas, and it just seemed right.
If you pre-order my book, I posted, I’ll send you your own SPACE UNICORN drawing.
My rationale was this:
- People like space stuff.
- People also like unicorns.
- People will buy my book for a chance to see those two things combined.
(And it went no farther than that, honestly. My book has nothing to do with anything even remotely space unicornish.)
The reception my offer got was immense and wonderful. At one point, I was drawing four or five space unicorns a day! I was loathe to part with a few of them, yet I knew they were going to good homes.
I know the enterprise wasn’t a sound investment monetarily — I’ve spent far more on mailing this stuff out than I’d imagined when I started — but then again I never looked at it as a money-maker. It was so much fun, I didn’t care that I was losing money. People got to see me in all my goofy enthusiasm, and I got to see them receive something truly weird from a hugely appreciative author.
Every time someone posted a picture of their drawing on Facebook, it made my day — yes, just as much as when people started posting pictures of themselves with my book. It meant, I think, I hope, that I’d proven just how grateful I was to people for spending their hard-fought-for wages on something in which I’d invested so much of myself.
I made friends through a few of those drawings — which is the coolest outcome of all.
Sometimes, I get people asking me how sustainable my vision of promotion is, and all I can say is that it isn’t. But then again they’re speaking from a standpoint of wanting to be a career author, while I’m speaking from the standpoint of someone who writes rarely and has a day job. Having a book out is great, easily the accomplishment I’m the most proud of, and in a couple or few years I hope to have another come out…
But in the meantime? Well, I’m gonna draw a space unicorn for anybody who’s kind enough to buy my debut or post a review or just ask really kindly.
Why? Because a person doesn’t need a space unicorn, just as I don’t need a reader, but having space unicorns and readers makes the world a little more lovely for both parties.
Zachary Jernigan is a resident of the US state of Arizona. He can be found at www.zacharyjernigan.com and Facebook and such.