Monday, June 23, 2014

Marketing Advice From a Queen

No, not me, although Her Royal Highness, the Queen Jane, Ruler of all She Surveys has a really lovely ring to it.

The queen in question is Esther, from her eponymous book in the Bible.

If you've never read the book of Esther, stop everything and do it right now. It is one of my very favorite Bible stories and the framework for any number of rewrites and tributes.  Esther also turns out to have been a very clever marketer.

Queen Esther by artist Edwin Long
Marketing, at its core, is reframing a problem you have in such a way that the person in power is moved to provide a solution that benefits both of you. As an author, my problem is how do I get my book in front of the audience I wrote it for. Esther had a problem with genocide.

Ok. So Esther's problem had more gravitas. Still makes a great case study.

Some background. Esther recently become queen after winning the Babylonian beauty contest, but the honeymoon was over. King Xerxes hadn't called her to his chambers in months. Now she hears that her cousin, who had adopted and raised her, is mourning like someone died. She sends a messenger to find out why.

He informs her that her own people have been set up for slaughter by the king's shifty first in command, a man named Haman who is carrying a 600-year-old grudge because his people's nation was wiped off the map by King Saul.

See, Esther is a Jew, one of the many minority cultures living in Babylon. As a general rule, the Jews kept their heads down and work hard - and they are broadsided by Haman's hatred. Haman has made it law that on a certain date all Persians and other people living in Persia turn on the Jews, kill them, and take all their stuff.

Here's where the marketing brilliance happens.

  1. Esther prays. She gathers up her entourage, and everyone else she can enlist, and they fast, seeking God's favor and will.
  2. Esther acts bravely. After all, what's the worst that can happen? She dies? That's going to happen anyway. Might as well face death while doing something proactive.
  3. Esther greases the wheels. She asks a question the King does not want to refuse by inviting him to dinner. Who turns down dinner? Who turns down an opportunity to gain something they desire?
  4. Esther asks big. She asks that the Jews be spared from the slaughter that had been written into law. This is a HUGE deal because the king's edict cannot be revoked. And even if it could, why would the king want to lose face by appearing to change his mind? Yet, that's almost what Xerxes does for Esther. He has another edict written allowing the Jews to defend themselves, and to plunder the property of their enemies.

All of this is on my mind as I prepare to ask big. I am praying about a national marketing opportunity for Bird On Fire that would put me and my book in front of hundreds of thousands of people I can't reach right now. It is the kind of request that could kill the book - or, with God's grace, change many, many lives. Please pray for me. Let me know how I can pray for you. 

Let's be bold, and ask big - because if there's anything I've learned, it's that God loves to tell a good story. And his favorite way of telling them is through people who are willing to be characters for him.

Jane Wells has always gravitated toward reading material that pushed other people’s buttons. In 2nd grade it was a dinosaur book that upset her teacher at a Baptist school. Now it’s vampires and dystopias that catch her imagination. In them she finds parables and allegories illustrating God’s ancient plan in a language that is uniquely modern – and easily understood by people who may have never set foot inside a church. Glitter in the Sun and Bird on Fire are the results.
Always a writer, Jane’s “real jobs” have included newspaper journalism, youth ministry, sewing machine sales and marketing for a publishing house. Currently she is back to “just a writer” again, while juggling all the typical domestic duties of wife and mother, homeschooling two boys, managing two needy Golden Retrievers and answering to two very demanding cats.

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