Book sales advice · Promotions for authors · Writing

Clever writing + clever marketing

To struggling authors everywhere.

A young Briton, W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965), who would go on to be arguably the best-known​ and highest-paid writer of his era, became dismayed by his publisher’s reluctance to invest in advertising his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897).

Great writing aside, how could he gain an audience without a publisher’s full backing?

Maugham’s remedy? He employed his creativity and writing skills by placing the following classified ad in daily newspapers:

“Young millionaire, lover of sports, cultivated, with good taste of music and a patient and empathetic character wishes to marry any young and beautiful girl that resembles the heroine of W.S. Maugham’s new novel.”

The first edition disappeared from booksellers’ shelves in weeks. Liza of Lambeth sold well for years and gained critical praise for the author.

Maugham, whose best-known​ novels included Of Human Bondage (1915) and The Razor’s Edge (1944), was a prolific writer of 20 novels, 33 plays, 21 short story collections and dozens of stories published in periodicals after successfully launching his career.

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