The Neil Gaiman Perspective

Thursday, June 11, 2015
The other night, while watching Jeopardy!, the answer was something like, “He wrote The Ocean at The End of the Lane,” so I yelled, “Neil Gaiman!”

My husband ignored me, waiting for one of the “real” Jeopardy! players to answer. Seconds ticked by.

“I loved that book!” I shouted. “What’re you people, crazy? WHO IS NEIL GAIMAN?”

Time ran out, and Alex said, “That would be Neil Gaiman.”

“Ha!” I said, right in my husband’s face. And then I thought, huh. All three of those players missed Neil Gaiman.

I don’t know about you, but I found that sort of …comforting. I mean, those Jeopardy! people are smart—they know everything! But they didn’t know the multi-with-a-capital-M published author and amazing marketing machine that is Neil Gaiman.

Well, wait, you say. Maybe The Ocean at The End of the Lane was not one of Neil Gaiman’s best efforts. But it was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

Oh, so it was just a British sensation, you think. But it got all the way to #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in hardcover fiction.

Honestly, the man's spoken at packed venues all over the world, still finds time to post on his blog, and he has 2.24 million Twitter followers. And yet, three different people—and not just any people, mind you, these were brilliant Jeopardy! players, for cryin’ out loud—did not know Neil Gaiman, he of the mammoth marketing platform.

So, yeah, I don't feel so bad about my minuscule marketing platform. It's a work in progress, and I'll keep at it, as should you.

Maybe you’re no good at blogging or speaking in public, and maybe you really don’t like social media, and maybe you really don’t think you have time for any or all of what marketing entails.

Do it anyway. Because the sooner you start marketing and building that platform, the more you'll grow, in the business and with your readers. Just don’t make yourself crazy over it.

Don’t obsessively check rankings on Amazon, or engage publicly (or even privately) with someone who’s written a horrible review about your book. Don’t lose sleep because you forgot to send out your daily 20 tweets, and don’t drive your friends and family to distraction with your constant promotion.

Instead, be realistic in what you can achieve. Make meaningful connections with your readers, and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Grow a thick skin and always be polite. Hold a steady course and keep writing good books, and perhaps, most importantly, maintain a little perspective.

After all, even the amazing Neil Gaiman has his off days.

~Cathy C. Hall


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Brilliant and timely, as always. Did you have my picture next to your Precious while you typed or something? You know I suck at the whole marketing/self-promo requirement. I still haven't set up a launch party (it's too late now for June, and after the 4th of July it will be hotter than the hammers of you-know-where, making the park---which was a brilliant idea on your part, and perfect---no longer a great choice). Maybe the park in mid-October when the second book comes out. *sigh* Now I'm just rambling...but marketing/self-promo is so...uncomfortable. I wonder if it ever gets easier?

Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm thinking no, Lisa, it does not--whether you're just a lowly little writer like us or the mighty Neil Gaiman. He probably wakes up in the morning, too, and says, "Grrr. Another day, another gazillion tweets." :-)

Margo Dill said...

This makes me feel great! I mean first of all--I know who he is! :) And second--no matter what you do, there will still be people who do not notice you, so. . .we should be easier on ourselves. Love this post!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--I've heard the name but have not read anything of his. I guess I should?

And I so love Margo's comment. Even James Patterson is probably unknown to someone. Maybe?

Tina Cho said...

Good perspective on perspective! Thanks, Cathy.

Linda O'Connell said...

This great post makes me realize that even the top dogs get tired, aren't always recognized and this little pup has a long way to go, and that's okay.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, I'm so glad y'all feel better! I know I sure did. :-)

(P.S. My work here is done.)

Lynn said...

Now I feel smart because I know Neil Gaiman. Oh my gosh, Crazy Hair (children's book) is so awesome!

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