Back in 2007, TVWriter™’s People’s Pilot Competition declared John Adcox’s spec pilot script, CHALLENGERS OF MYSTERY the overall contest winner. Since then, John’s veered off the TV writing path and become a highly regarded writer of books and short stories. Recently, John gave the following highly informative interview about writing, marketing, and everything in between:
5 Questions with Fantasy Author John Adcox
by Will Bly
I interview John Adcox and receive some of the most-detailed answers to date. We explore John’s varied background, relate his marketing background to writing, and ask him to predict the future.
he first impression I have of you is that you are a man who wears many hats – publisher, author, and screenwriter for starters. You also boast a solid background in marketing and communications, and have helped some notable companies develop their brand. As a writerly person how important is it to be flexible in the age of the internet?
Well, with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves. The publishers, even the larger ones, really don’t do that anymore … at all. Even when they did, they never did it well. By and large, publishers have always marketed directly to booksellers, not book readers. That means, out of all the people in the world who might fall in love with your story, publishers are, at best, marketing to the few who happen to wander into bookstores.
In marketing, we call that “white hart” marketing. That’s a term that comes from mythology — the white hart is the object of the quest, a sort of walking Holy Grail. It grants wishes. The point is, they are (at best!) few, and they’re really, really hard to find.
The better way is to concentrate on all the other harts, the plain old brown ones. There’s lots of those, and no one is after them.
In this case, think of white harts as the people who frequent bookstores, and buy two or three books a week … pretty much every week. That sounds like the ideal audience, right?
The thing is, there are hundreds of new books published every week, and this white hart is buying three.
Books like, say, The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter series reach way, way beyond the audiences that usually buy books. Those people are hungry for stories, too. They are the brown harts. Go after them. Of course, the publishers will never do that.
So it’s pretty much up to writers. That’s not something we’re necessarily comfortable with, but I think it’s easier if you think in terms of building genuine relationships with audiences, or potential audiences, rather than selling.
Technology gives you amazing tools for communicating, and participating in the kind of communities that develop around stories. When you write, you’re writing for an audience. As much as we all like to think of ourselves as writing for the entire world, we’re actually writing for a smaller, specific audience — at least to start with. You might every well grow beyond that base, but you have to start someone.
The people in this audience share things in common … interests, passions, hobbies. There’s something in most of us, I think, that yearns to meet people “like us,” people who understand. C.S. Lewis put it like this in The Four Loves: “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” So those people tend to congregate somewhere.
For example, my agent is shopping a book of mine that’s set at a Renaissance fair. At least five million people go to a fair somewhere in the US every year … twice. Now then. Count the ones who go once a year, or every other year, and you have a fairly significant audience. You can use, say, Facebook to find people who love Renaissance fairs and, again for example, fantasy and/or paranormal romance, and you start to have a group that you can start interacting with.
You’ll find that most of them will say, “wow, here’s someone like me!” And they’re eager to help. Treat them with genuine respect and gratitude, and pretty soon you’ll have an audience. Just be sure to give back.
Your bio mentions that you are now focusing on storytelling, how do you bring everything together and streamline your efforts?
Mostly, that was a case of eliminating all the things that weren’t focused on storytelling. Sounds simple, right?
My company, Gramarye Media was lucky enough to be accepted into a business accelerator, Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint program. That program is designed to eliminate years of startup mistakes (and literally millions of dollars of wasted money). As a result, we were able to attract the attention of major investors….