Using Your Wits To Win!


NOTE: I’ve had eight books published. My techniques are offbeat but effective. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Persistence and patience are required!

1. When handsome Bob had submitted his first book manuscript to a dozen publishers, which they all rejected, he decided he wanted a major agent. The one he chose, a well -connected, attractive young lady, said she was too busy with published authors. And she told him not to call her again, please.

SOLUTION: I suggested he track the agent’s daily schedule and report back to me. Her lunch hour was 1 pm, returning to her office at 2:30. Bob’s roommate, Hugo, was a weightlifter and he agreed to participate in my charade. Briefly, Bob and Hugo waited until the agent entered her elevator, they followed and Hugo made an amorous advance on the agent; Bob knocked him out just as they arrived at her floor. She invited Bob to her office, thanked him profusely and decided to handle his book. He was not only published but, through her contacts, obtained a television commercial for Dunkin Doughnuts that ran more than a year.  Bob found his career as a MC in Atlantic City.

2. My first book manuscript was returned from Simon & Schuster with coffee stains, torn pages and someone balanced their checkbook on a page.

SOLUTION: I wrote Leon Shimkin, the CEO, a scathing two-page letter of protest. His secretary called me to arrange a lunch date with her boss. He apologized and then agreed to publish “The Great American Hoax!” The book was serialized in the NEW YORK POST, sold overseas and to Paramount Pictures for a film with Jack Lemmon.

3. When the Canadian publisher, McClelland & Stewart, considered my satire on advertising, “The Fallacy of Creative Thinking,” President Jack McClelland invited me for lunch in New York City. He handed over my manuscript and said his editors had voted not to publish. I was devastated.

SOLUTION: The waiter brought the check and handed it to me. Mr. McClelland insisted on paying. I refused, saying, “I’m sure you’ve taken hundreds of authors to lunch and none ever picked up the check.” He nodded yes. “Well, sir,” I replied, “When you return to Toronto you’ll always remember one author in your life who paid the check. Me.” He rolled his eyes, shook his head, smiling, and said, “And you are that one author who is also going to be published.” I was, including a $10,000 advance, network TV appearances and a book tour across Canada.

4. I submitted my manuscript to 40 publishers and received 40 rejections.

SOLUTION: At a national book convention in Washington, DC I hired several people to put 3,000 flyers, describing my book, under hotel room doors where publishers were staying. A week later I received two calls asking to read the manuscript, “Don’t Get Mad…Get Even,” involving humorous way to seek revenge when wronged. W.W. Norton offered a contract. The book became a best-seller, was published overseas and licensed to Books-On-Tape. (It was rented and sold from 1985 to 2005).

5. When Dr. Joe Vitale’s book, “There’s A Customer Born Every Minute,” required a promotional campaign, I was asked to design one. His book was a modern day version of P.T. Barnum’s ideas.

SOLUTION: I suggested he hold a Canine Concert in an Austin, TX park.  Only dogs were invited because the band played music on such a high frequency, only they could hear. Their handlers came too, along with media coverage, A ton of books were sold that day. And the book continues to sell.

6. Author Patricia Hamilton developed a book, “California Healthy,” that described all the healthy restaurants, health clubs and hiking paths in California. Self-published, she was unable to obtain distribution or shelf space in book stores.

SOLUTION: I suggested she target her audience, namely tourists, and solicit hotels and motels to place a copy of her book in rooms. Travelers could browse or buy. The Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood was the first to order 750 books, followed by others and negotiations began with the Marriott Hotel chain. Last year, Ms. Hamilton won the coveted IRWIN AWARD for the best marketing plan by the California Book Publicists Association.

7. Dr. Joe Vitale had another book about to be published, “The Attractor Factor,” that described ways to turn peoples’ lives around and become successful. He needed a dynamic publicity campaign that would promote his book nationally.

SOLUTION: Since the Powerball Lottery had reached $380 million without a winner, I decided to create a winner when the winning numbers were called. Then, my accomplice would immediately hold court in the city where they were called, and claim he chose the correct numbers by leafing through pages of “The Attractor Factor.” (There is no law against pretending to be a lottery winner, as long as you don’t try to claim the money.) My team staged this event in Lincoln, NE at the Village Inn Restaurant, soon overrun by the media, reported by Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, Good Morning America and others. “The Attractor Factor,” always held aloft, was Number One on for three straight days!

8. Neither Barnes & Noble nor Borders would stock Dick Elder’s fascinating autobiography telling how he went from rags to riches with a dude ranch (“Which Way Is West?”)

SOLUTION: So my team surreptitiously placed a dozen copies in the bio section of stores in New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The books soon sold out, much to the consternation of store managers . As customers ordered copies, the author was tracked down and he gladly supplied both chains. (Al Roker’s production company has optioned book for a TV movie.)

9. A dozen years ago I had my screenplay optioned at Disney with no response for many months. Nobody answered my letters or phone calls.

SOLUTION: I decided to have Michael Eisner, the Chairman, call me. He graduated from Denison University in Granville, OH and was an important alumnus. I wrote to the Registrar and requested a transcript of his college grades. A few days later Eisner called me at home and asked, “Who the hell are you and why the do you want my grades?” I explained I just wanted to learn the fate of my screenplay. He laughed at the ploy and two days later I had my answer. Eisner’s secretary said they had decided not to go forward with the movie, with apologies for the delay in responding.

10. A Buick agency on Broadway in Manhattan had a Piper Cub airplane in their huge show window. The owner complained to me this wasn’t helping business.

SOLUTION: I suggested we stage a marathon rehearsal for a new TV show…three days and nights…called “The Unstable Roundtable.” Two teams of six actors took turns improvising, under the leadership of Buck Henry (“The Graduate”). Crowds gathered outside to watch. People had to go inside to hear the zany talkfest. The sales people sold every car in stock!

11. Donald Trump owed me $900 and a year passed without payment, despite monthly bills to his office. Finally, I obtained a default judgment in Small Claims Court. But Donald kept hiding behind his many corporations.

SOLUTION: I ordered the sheriff in Atlantic City to auction his Taj Mahal Hotel. I would take the first $900 and give Trump the next $55 million. When this plan made news, I was offered $1,000 to forgive and forget the matter. An excellent idea.

12. A wealthy businessman in Philadelphia was secretly engaged to marry two different women. When they accidently met at a party and compared expensive diamond rings, they were horrified to learn the truth and wanted revenge.

SOLUTION: I advised them to salute him with a fake MAN OF THE YEAR award at a local country club. When he arrived in his limo, both women were waiting at the door to greet him. He was devastated by this deception and departed in a huff. Then they each sold their rings for $25,000.

13. Bob Wild had 500 JFK Rocking Chairs he couldn’t sell, even after advertising in airline magazines.

SOLUTION: I suggested he hire salesmen to target Grand Juries in southwest counties. They would each need 23 chairs and could meditate their decisions more accurately while rocking. It worked!

CONCLUSION: I’ve always found a way to sell any idea such as a book, film, product or person. All it takes is IMAGINATION and the desire to succeed. Also, a reasonable amount of money.

by Alan Abel ( © 2011 Alan Abel