So you can read my books

Friday, April 5, 2013

V as in Mark Twain's VALENTINE TO VIRTUE and VALUABLE lesssons in how to succeed as a writer

{Photo in public domain}
Ghost of Mark Twain back again.
Seeing as how I started out the week, it seems only fitting I end it.  so here is my

Now, I don’t claim to have all the virtues – only nine or ten of them. 

I just picked up M. de L.’s new French dictionary just published in Paris, and it defines virtue as

“a woman who has only one lover and don’t steal.”

And in that sense I have just fallen plumb in love with a new gal:

the Cinderella of tech, Sophia Amoruso.
Who’s she?’, you ask.  Why, she’s the slyest little thing that looks like a Goth princess but with a side order of Tom Sawyer wiles.

She started Nasty Gal, an eBay page that sold vintage women’s clothing.
Last year, Nasty Gal sold nearly $100 million of clothing and accessories — profitably.

That’s right, children: an eBay page –
an eBay page to sell some of the vintage designer items she found rummaging through Goodwill bins. She bought a Chanel jacket at a Salvation Army store for $8 and sold it for $1,000.

She found Yves Saint Laurent clothing online on the cheap by Googling misspellings of the designer’s name, reasoning that anyone who didn’t know how to spell Yves Saint Laurent probably didn’t realize his value.
She styled, photographed, captioned and shipped each product herself and sold about 25 items a week. She named the eBay page “Nasty Gal” after the 1975 album by Betty Davis —

not the whisky-throated film star Bette Davis, but the gleefully sexy singer and style icon Betty, whose brief marriage to the jazz legend Miles Davis inspired the song “Back Seat Betty.”
And if all that ain’t virtue, I surely do not know what is.

Now, don’t feel bad that you ain’t as virtuous as my new darling, Sophia Amoruso.  Most folks are as virtuous as they can muster, according to their lights.  But with many I guess their lights are a little dim.

Virtue has never been as respectable as money, but my new love has both, don’t you know?

Sophia, my new darling, has given you struggling writers
valuable lessons in how you can succeed in your own dreams.

What do you think are some of her lessons?

Here are some thoughts of my very own.  Don't laugh, children.  I get them every now and then:

It is important not to limit your perspective about what you are trying to create to the mere medium you are creating it for.

As a novelist you are not creating a book, filled with paper pages that have ink on them.

You are creating a media franchise.

Whether it is a successful one, intentionally, or unintentionally, is up to you.

How did Sophia do it?  How can you adapt her ways to your own?

Think arresting title ... perceived value versus real value ... desires draped as needs ... the psychology of the folks viewing.


  1. Nasty Gal is a great success story and a lessen in the value vs perceived value of things.

  2. Wow, that's a great idea! Congrats to Nasty Gal.

  3. Very cool -- marketing savvy has a lot to do with success, from what I hear. Wish I could just spend my time writing, though!

  4. Elise:
    Yes, Sophia has a true Tom Sawyer bent of mind!

    Sophia did give us motivation to think outside the box, didn't she?

    In this ePublishing age, just writing will not do sadly. :-(

  5. You must remember, she is marketing to a generation that has grown up with status symbols, designer clothes labels, overpriced purses, etc. (trended by the celebs)

    Marketing still has it's growth cycle, and these types of items will likely bloom and fade fast. A book is much more enduring, but is also subject to the tastes of the fickle public.

    Sounds a bit like Twain is a bit fickle too. (doesn't he always have a new love interest?)

  6. Very intelligent woman! Such strong verbal skills and astute observations. I may check this site out.

    Thanks for the gift of "The Last Shaman"! I am really enjoying it!!

  7. That's why I offer readers an armchair trip to Hawaii when marketing my novel, Penniless Hearts. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to escape....

  8. D.G.:
    Sadly, books will never be status symbols. Twain is not fickle; he's just over-committed! :-)

    Clever and thinking out of the box, too!

    I hope you like THE LAST SHAMAN. Sophia certainly has a head on her!!

    The Desert Rocks:
    It's hard sometimes to understand what our readers want and that is for sure!

  9. That is one heck of a success story. Sophia is clearly savvy with a genius for marketing we could all learn from. That said, she got her start dealing in merchandise that is best described as what you see is what you get—famous brand names. Not sure how to apply that approach when it comes to books. Books are never what you see is what you get. Even selling pristine first-edition Hemingway novels probably wouldn't work as a lead in to selling our own work. :)

  10. VR:
    Isn't Sophia's story a stirring success tale? Her company's name, NASTY GAL, is a hook (like our titles to our books) that grabs your attention.

    She thought outside the box (misspelling brand names on eBay to get cut-rate prices on hot brands.

    Just as we must think outside the box to find "novel" ways to sell our books -- whether by serial or by making them into audio books on our own to take advantage of audible.

    Have a great weekend. I, of course, will be working -- I have to stock as many hours up before the ax falls!! Ouch!