Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Author Marketing Lessons from Grumpy Cat

There always seems to be something new that's gone "viral," that everyone's seeing across multiple social media platforms. Even those not online much seem to hear about certain things almost through cultural osmosis. When we're marketing and trying to spread the word about our books, what better thing could happen?

There's no key or formula for "going viral." A video or blog post that someone works weeks on will languor in relative obscurity while the thing they whipped up in one day will get all the crazy buzz. So yes, it's hard, almost impossible to gauge. However there are certain things that help, certain lessons to learn. Today I thought it would be fun to look at some of the lessons learned from one of those viral sensations, Grumpy Cat.

Be Consistent. Everybody knows what to expect with Grumpy Cat, even when the hilarious and awesome owners are taking pictures of Grumpy at Disneyland. Because its so pervasive, when anybody wants to express frustration and just plain grumpiness, Grumpy Cat is one of the first things they turn to.

Now, I'm probably going to have some trouble with this, because I hope to write in multiple genres. However, I am going to try and be consistent wherever I can: in terms of voice, style, etc. You can also be consistent across your various social media platforms. Even consistent scheduling can help. I follow many, many blogs that I read regularly, but for example, I actively wait for and seek out blog posts on Anne R. Allen's blog because I know there will be a fabulous and helpful post waiting for me every Sunday. I know that every Tuesday and Friday I'm going to get a YouTube video from John and Hank Green.

Be Genuine. Grumpy Cat is huge because everyone can immediately understand and sympathize with that fabulous expression. We know exactly what that face means, and have felt it ourselves. People like it when you get real, past the fluffy niceties and superficial pleasantries. We're not Victorian England anymore. We know we're all imperfect and often hilariously fallible and human and we as a culture would most often rather talk about it than gloss over things and pretend there are no issues. In fact, its this sense of humor that is often exactly what's needed to help deal with the issues and problems, even if its just on an emotional level. So be real. We're all here to connect with each other.

Be Shareable. Part of the reason Grumpy Cat succeeds is because its so simple and easy and convenient to spread it. You can quickly find and post a Grumpy Cat picture on Facebook or Twitter or a Blog or Pinterest or anything. People can easily "read" the image, have a good laugh, and quickly move on. That's what the internet is about these days, and though things like long and in depth are still wonderful things in their own right, they're not as easily shareable. People like bullet points and numbered lists and humor and, especially, images. If it takes more than point and click to spread your news, more often than not, people are going to move on rather than expend the effort.

Hopefully these principles can be applied to all types of book marketing. What other marketing lessons do you think we could take from Grumpy Cat?

Sarah Allen


  1. Grumpy Cat and author advice ... two things that I NEVER thought could be put together in the same post, but you totally did it! Now I'll be smiling all day (cause it makes Grumpy Cat grumpy). :)

  2. Grumpy Cat reminds me on my son when he about 20. What a pain. May I send this to him (now 34)?

  3. So one of the tips isn't to Be Grumpy? Dang, I knew I was doing something wrong.

  4. The Vlog Brothers (Green) are funny, smart, and informative. I find Grumpy Cat depressive.

  5. Love Grumpy Cat. Love your perspective.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  6. Love Grumpy Cat. Think you mean languish by the way.

  7. Have I ever told you that I love your posts? :) And I love grumpy cat. Life goal: Sell a book, drop out of school, and settle down in California with a cat with that exact same expression. I feel like he'd totally understand me.

  8. Hey Sarah,

    I really love the Grumpy Cat example. Branding is really important and goes a long way. It's a good thing to remember.

    Thanks for sharing =)

  9. Awwwwww Grumpy Cat is wise as he is grumpy! :-)

    I guess what I've learnt from Grumpy Cat are these: "be yourself, embrace yourself and erm... smile and the world smiles with you!". Take care


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