Dostoevsky & Interruption Marketing

by Matthew Cavnar on

Turning an unknown author into a surprise bestseller is publishing at its finest—and a classic example of old fashioned interupption marketing.

The author toils in obscurity for years and emerges with a work that transfixes an audience that hadn’t previously existed.

That’s art. Great art, more often than not, finds an audience (even great-but-completely-insane art, a la Henry Darger). But it’s a hard task. You’re convincing people to pay attention to something new.

Stephen Elliot, who often reflects on art vs. commerce, being read vs. not being read, remarked that anyone is lucky their work’s read. No one owes you a reading.

Artists don’t build audiences. They make art. That art makes an audience, or it disappears. Or it disappears and returns a hundred years later, when its audience arrives.

But here’s the good news: Not everyone is an artist. Most people aren’t.

Which is excellent.

If you’re not an artist; if you’re a company or a Website or a person who works for a Website or runs a Website—if you’re anyone who has an audience: You’re already lucky.

You already have readers.

You don’t have to produce a stunning piece of art they never knew they needed.

You just have to give them what they come to you for — whether it be expertise on model train collecting or interior decorating— in an intelligent, thoughtful and well packaged format.

Give it to them in a digital book. That looks great. That reads cleanly. That shows what you do at your best.

Make it easy to buy on your Website. Offer the first one, two, three, even five eBooks for free.

More and more readers are carrying tablets — and tablets are just book covers that you can beam any kind of book into.

People want to beam in what they’re familiar with. If you’ve already done all the hard work of building a Website or a business or a brand, you're lucky.

Dostoevsky remembered being told his first novel was accepted for publication as the finest moment in his life. The world probably didn't know it wanted to read thousands of pages about the internal life of deeply troubled slavs. But apparently we did!

You don't have to suffer to share your vision with the world. If you've got a Website with traffic, you know what people want.

Now all you have to do is write the book.

Your audience is waiting.

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