A writer who had taken one of my courses recently reported something incredible:
“Kathie Lee Gifford just shared my first children’s book as her Favorite Thing on TODAY!”
Here is a photo:
The author is Teri Case, and her book is I’m Going to the Doctor. Teri and I met when she took my online course called Get Read, and when she messaged me about this new development, she was very generous in crediting the course with helping her get to this exciting new place — where Kathie Lee would mention her book on the Today show. In Teri’s words:
“Moral of the story: Taking Dan’s class, preparing my goals, sticking to them, sharing my work made me the LUCKIEST FIRST TIME SELF-PUBLISHER in the world! 🙂 Pure luck founded on Get Read.”
So today, I would like to explore exactly what happened here — how Teri’s book became featured on TODAY. Let’s dig in…
How Kathie Lee Found Teri’s Book
Some authors reading this may be thinking, “What did Teri do that I can replicate to get my book into Kathie Lee’s hands?!”
What if I told you there is a little known trick that Teri used? That it involved targeting big media celebrities via a free online publicity service, and that it greatly increases your chance of getting your book featured on TV?
Well, if I told you that, I would be lying. Sorry.
In truth, Teri’s book landed in Kathie Lee’s hands in the way that much of marketing has always worked, and in the way that I try to make the embodiment of what I teach in my courses. It happened through clarity of messaging, relationships, and gumption.
Here is the real story from Teri:
“We had sold our house, and wanted to thank our wonderful neighbors. They were first-time grandparents. Their grandson had been born a few weeks prior. So I took a signed copy of my book over to my neighbor and sat and chatted with her.”
“She loved the book and was asking me how I came about it — I spilled my guts. She wanted to know what my goals were and I shared how I didn’t expect to make any money as I self-published it, and I was primarily donating copies.”
“She asked who I had chosen to donate to, and if I was interested in suggestions. ‘Absolutely,’ I said. She told me about a few organizations her family was involved in that treated special needs Pre-K thru Kindergarten children — primarily children born with addictions, AIDS, or deformities due to parents’ choices.”
“Now, this totally tugged at my heart, so I said, yes, yes, yes. I went home and looked up the organizations, contacted their development offices, and sent a copy of the book for each classroom.”
“Where does it come together? My neighbor’s sister is Kathie Lee Gifford. I had heard a rumor two years ago when I first moved there, but had dismissed it and forgotten. Anyway, my neighbor had a ceremony for her grandson in May and apparently Kathie Lee was there. She saw the book, asked about it, and her sister told her about our visit, my goals and that I had sent copies to her charities.”
Then one day this happened:
“So there I was, driving from Seattle to Idaho, when I got a text from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while, “UM…Kathie Lee Gifford just showed your book and said your name on TODAY.”
Teri handled this news as any professional author would — by screaming. She sent me a photo of what she looked like at that exact moment:
The Lessons We Can Take From Teri’s Story
One of my favorite quotes is this one, by Scott Johnson:
“Caring is a powerful business advantage.”
That is a foundation I teach in the Get Read course, and this is how Teri implemented it:
“As part of your class, Dan, I decided part of my goals in writing, or one of my benchmarks of success, would be thanking subscribers and donating or contributing to a charity with each book. So even though a children’s picture book was my first book, I wanted to keep to my overall objectives. I ordered 200 copies for myself as giveaways. First, I sent signed copies to subscribers and to anyone who had something to do with the book being published. Next, I sent over 100 copies to St. Jude Children’s Hospital; book banks in MD, CT, and OR; the New Orleans Library, Washoe County (NV) Library, Children’s Aid Society…”
Pretty cool, right?
Does she want book sales and to earn revenue as an author as well? Sure. Does she expect that every book needs to be purchased in order to be meaningful to others? Nope.
The Results of Being Featured on TODAY
So has this catapulted Teri’s book onto the bestseller lists? Here is another big lesson from Teri’s experience… the short answer is no. She describes the immediate reaction from friends and family:
“I started getting texts and private messages, all from non-writers:”
- Have you sold out?
- How quick did you sell all your books?
- You’re going to be rich!
- How much did you make?
- Have you ordered a reprint yet?
On the business side of it, what was the result? She sold about 20 additional copies.
But of course, she also tells me:
“Now my family thinks I’m filthy rich. HA HA HA HA.”
But it does go deeper than that:
“The response from friends and family was immediate–mostly because I publicized my excitement on Facebook. I was overwhelmed by the supportive and enthusiastic comments and LIKES. I think I received more LIKES on this post, and shares from my website than ever. I felt so honored and blessed any time anyone shared a post.”
“In the end, I was more fascinated by the shares and reviews than I was about books sold.”
For that last piece, she referenced the article I recently shared about Buzzfeed, and their obsession with why and how people share content.
The Step-by-Step Guide
So if you want a step-by-step guide to do exactly what Teri did, here it is:
- Move to a house next door to the sibling of a celebrity. Ignore them for two years while you create your masterpiece.
- In the meantime, write books you find deeply meaningful, and be honest about the result you want them to have in the world. For Teri, publishing her book was about donating to charities and helping kids.
- When you do meet the sibling of the celebrity, be kind and generous and connect with things they care about deeply.
- Then leave with zero expectations and drive to Idaho.
That, my dear author, is how you get your book featured on the TODAY show.
Seriously though, the main point here is that Teri had established clarity around her goals and messaging, which led her to publish the book. Even that seemingly tiny action of bringing a signed copy of the book to a neighbor’s house can’t be overlooked. This takes forethought, and dare I say a little bit of bravery. And clearly it paid off for her. She put it this way:
“I jumped into the Get Read course where I explored my audience and goals. Your class gave me permission to experiment with ways to network and express myself and reach the goals I established in Get Read. As a bonus to the class, I made new friends and gained a few subscribers from the start.”
If any of this resonates with you, please consider joining me in the next session of Get Read. We cover four key lessons:
- Develop your voice.
- Find your ideal audience.
- Create moments of connection.
- Construct your marketing plan.
Plus so much more. Deadline for registration is Monday June 22nd.
Congratulations to Teri on finding momentum in her writing!