A Creative Idea Which Took Off
As much as I read magazines, newspapers and books plus follow other types of media, I completely missed PostSecret—until yesterday when it was featured in an article on the front page of USA Today. If you haven’t heard, blogger Frank Warren started PostSecret and individuals anonymously mail them to his Washington, D.C. home. To date, they’ve mailed over 30,000 postcards.
These Secret-Tellers have earned Warren what his publisher, Judith Regan, calls the title of “the most trusted stranger in America..” Some of these secrets are sad and some of them are funny. Warren reads every postcard then selects 10 to 20 each week which are posted to his blog—and millions of people are eagerly waiting to read these postcards with secrets.
Some of these postcards are admittedly “adult” rated in their content but I want to use the story to point out several things about the writing world.
First, Warren had a creative idea which took off in terms of popularity and audience. Millions of people wanted to read these postcards and even lined up for an art exhibit. Because of the growing audience (which doesn’t hurt if you are on the front page of USA Today), a book publisher (Regan Books) brought out his first book in December. In three months, the sales for PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives have been brisk so they are planning four more. The book is a compilation of 400 postcards. To validate the sales number, his Amazon.com number was #29 this morning.
Notice the book title is more than PostSecret—but has some extra words in the subtitle to draw you to the book. Also I noticed the reader reviews for this book which has been on the market three months—over 100 of them.
To me, Frank Warren’s blog, his book and other aspects like the art exhibit, point out how a niche market can take off and be successful. Some days you may feel like there is nothing else to be written or proposed to an editor. Can you tap a felt need for readers and put it into a magazine article or a book proposal? Can you go ahead and begin to reach those readers through a website or a blog or some other mechanism (other than a postcard) which will collectively show the publisher that a ready-made audience exists?
The opportunities are there simply waiting to be created.