month I reconnected with Mark Effinger, a friend from junior high. I
had moved away after eighth grade and lost touch, but I’ve thought of
him often through the years. I loved his mantra, with which he signed
my yearbook: GO CRAZY!
It’s good advice, especially
when it comes to marketing. Crazy gets noticed. Mundane is forgotten.
Crazy creates buzz. The norm is swept away like dust. Crazy keeps you
in the mind of readers, editors, and agents.
Last fall I went a little crazy.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting
here in Indianapolis when one of my all-time favorite authors is doing
a book signing ten minutes from my home,” I said to Allen Arnold one
night at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in
“Yep. I’ve been wanting to meet
him for decades.”
I started reading Stephen
Lawhead’s books in the mid ’80s. When I read Empyrion
and then Dream Thief, I was captivated. I’d been
searching for an author like him for years. He’s one of the few
novelists of whom I’ve said, “I would love to write books like him.”
After I finished my lament,
Allen smiled and cocked his head slightly to the side. “I have an
“Come meet him.”
“What?” I shifted forward in my
“Come meet him.” The smiled
stay on Allen’s face. “After ACFW is over, I’m flying to Dallas to join
Stephen on his book tour. Why not jump on a plane, come to Dallas, and
hang out with us? He’s flying back to England after the tour, so it
will be your last chance for at least two years. We’ll have dinner
together then you can come to his book signing. If you’re up for it,
I’ll ask him if that’d be okay.”
My immediate reaction?
Impossible. I couldn’t do it. I’d been away from home for five days
already. I had work to do. The deadline for my third novel, The
Chair, was looming. I had Barefoot Marketing stuff to do. I’d
been away from my family for too long. I was supposed to return home
for two days, then turn around and jump on a plane for Dallas?
It was crazy. I didn’t have the
time to do it. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have any place to stay
But I wanted to meet Stephen.
And the crazy feeling was dancing in my brain.
I got home I told Darci (my wife) about the idea. She smiled the same
smile as Allen’s. “Do you want to go?”
“Are you kidding?”
Why not? When will
you get another chance?”
I called Mary and Patrick
DeMuth. “Can I crash at your house for a night?”
I checked my frequent flier
miles. Yes! Enough for a round trip ticket to Dallas. Three days later
I winged my way to Dallas to meet one of my heroes.
He didn’t disappoint. Stephen
was engaging, bright, playful, and we hit it off.
As I think about the trip nine
months later, I’ve somehow forgotten all the things I had to get done
that week, things that should have stopped me from going.
I don’t have to explain the
marketing lesson buried in this experience. You get it. Sometimes you
have step out and do something crazy. Something that makes no sense.
Did my trip benefit my career?
Yes. I didn’t do it for that reason, but it made an impact. But let’s
save that story for a future column. In the meantime I’d love to hear
from you about a time you went a mite insane, and what came from it.
Talk to me. Let’s go crazy
It’s good marketing advice.
How did you go crazy lately? It
might be as simple as or getting on a plane to Dallas.