Sell Me This Pen: 5 Author Discovery tips learned from The Wolf of Wall Street


I have an admission to make. I love marketing and sales. Always have. There’s something magical about being able to identify or anticipate someone’s needs and then fulfill them in a wholly satisfactory fashion.  I know I am in the minority of most authors when it comes to this attribute. Most authors genuinely despise and even hate the idea of marketing and sales. Still, everyone likes seeing the numbers in their bank accounts rise, right?

Unfortunately, those numbers don’t rise without some level of intervention and action on the part of the author. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know that I have made it my personal mission to try literally everything available to boost my discovery by readers. I do this for 2 reasons: 1) I really like gaining more readers and 2) I really like helping others succeed as well. If I can save you time or give you a tip that makes your life easier, I consider it a job well done and a necessary sacrifice for the greater good.

I recently finished reading The Wolf of Wallstreet by Jordan Belfort, a book i discovered after seeing the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio last year. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Jordan Belfort is not the kind of person you necessarily want to emulate. In his heyday, he was so excessive, so brash, so out of control, and so cunning that it took the FBI nearly 15 years to bring him down. He still hasn’t paid back the $110 million of which he defrauded investors during his Stratton Oakmont days, and Steve Madden shoes is still in business, but that’s not why I’m writing this. What drew me to the book was not the character of Jordan Belfort or his deplorable sales tactics but a desire to better understand the financial system that permitted him to gain so much success. Just like I will read any book that sells a bagillion copies (see 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight as examples) to learn into what secret the author is tapping. Just like I will continue to invest my own time and money to try out different author discovery services and report back to you here. I am constantly learning and adapting my approach to reaching readers.

So what exactly did I learn from this crazy story that can be applied to Author Discovery?

Below, find 5 secrets (in no particular order of importance) I gleaned from the book that can be applied to helping more readers find you and your work:

  1. Believe in yourself and your writing: Belief is contagious and the first person who needs to become infected with overwhelming confidence is you. The one constant positive attribute Jordan Belfort exhibits in the book is self-confidence and conviction in his abilities to become a huge success – even when he was just starting out as “lower than pond scum”. His belief took him from this low position to the top of the pops as they say – and eventually he had thousands of rabid followers willing to do his bidding. Use self-affirmations, the power of positive thinking, meditation, vision boarding, visualization, and any other positive method to pump yourself up on a daily basis.
  2. Give as good as you get: Wolfie didn’t fully embody this principle, but in the beginning, he made sure that everyone associated with him became successful as well. Success begat more success. I take this to mean, give back early and often – to other authors who are coming in behind you, to readers, and to those who will help you along the journey (editors, cover designers, proofreaders, collaborators, etc).
  3. Work hard and play hard: Just not as hard as Jordan and his cronies. I was amazed at how productive this guy was able to be while under the influence of at least 20 illicit substances often simultaneously. But it must be said that the guy did more while high out of his mind then most of us do stone sober in a lifetime. So the lesson here is stay focused on your objectives and commit to knocking them out one by one and remember to celebrate your success along the way – just stay away from “ludes”.
  4. Build a strong team: Belfort surrounded himself with young hungry greedy individuals who wanted to be just like him one day. They were fiercely loyal and would do anything he asked – even lie under oath. How many people would do the same for you in your life? I’m not suggesting that you create a cult or something, but you do need to seek out and build strong relationships with professionals as committed to their cause as you are to yours. Then you take your team and build a skyscraper of literary success brick by brick.
  5. Make meaning: This piece comes from the movie – the whole “sell me this pen” gambit used at the beginning of the film and at the end. You can’t sell a pen (or a book) by focusing merely on describing the features and benefits. There are billions of pens in the world. Remember how his friend Brad did it – he created a sense of urgency and importance  for the pen just by taking the pen away and then saying, “write your name down”, transforming the pen into something valuable. Ultimately, the pen became a means to an end which was the ability for the user of the device to sign an important contract or get a pretty girls phone number. When reading your book becomes important and urgent to readers, trust me, it will get discovered (and purchased) by the boatload. If you can’t succinctly describe the benefit of reading your book to your readers then you will continuously struggle to achieve your goals on the financial side of the publishing business.

So, I leave you with a challenge – sell me your book in the comments.

Part owner of Independent Publishing Venture, The Pantheon Collective. Award-winning, bestselling author of One Blood (under pseudonym Qwantu Amaru). Book marketing expert and social media marketing consultant.

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5 comments on “Sell Me This Pen: 5 Author Discovery tips learned from The Wolf of Wall Street
  1. phyllomania says:

    What?! No takers? First, thanks for this post. I love your approach to learning. I write New Age/Inspirational nonfiction. I love connecting with what my customers want and need. But I’m very new at it. Luckily, I keep falling in love with my book Soul Messages: Lavish Love Notes for the Soul (, because it unfailingly delivers a positive, relevant, sometimes challenging, personal message to my readers. Part wise aunt, part crazy uncle, it’s an affirmation/oracle book for the spiritually adventuresome.

    • Hi Phyllis and thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I like your pitch but it could use some punch. How about, for readers who loved the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, my book – Soul Messages: Lavish Love Notes for the Soul is an affirmation/oracle book that will change readers lives and perceptions because it unfailingly delivers a positive, relevant, sometimes challenging, personal message.

  2. phyllomania says:

    Thanks, I like it. I checked out your Slideshare on developing a book discovery plan, and I have a lot of work to do….Do you recommend any book review/ promotion sites that feature nonfiction indies?

    How about “… will change readers lives with its uncannily personal messages that challenge them to expand their perceptions about who they are and how the Universe works.” ?

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