StoryCorps, the independent oral history project that airs on National Public Radio, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The organization’s mission is simple, “provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” These are not stories about famous people. It’s the powerful stories of everyday folk that the producers at StoryCorps want told.
If you’re going to listen to StoryCorps, get out the tissues. These stories – which can be sad, inspirational, uplifting, frightening, brutally honest, unsettling, heart wrenching, etc. – almost always evoke strong reactions from listeners. The segment is famous for making people cry. Even NPR Host Steve Inskeep confesses to turning down the volume before he has to wrap up the segment. “If I listen, I know I’m going to lose it,” he admits.
So what does StoryCorps have to do with book promotion? More than you might think. What StoryCorps demonstrates so effectively is the ability of emotion to cut through the noise of today’s modern world. And with $6.5 million in revenue last year, StoryCorps is certainly onto a successful formula. What’s the takeaway for authors? Don’t be afraid to put a little heart in your book promotion. It will help you stand out in today’s crowded book marketplace. Here’s why emotion works:
- Emotion creates memorable moments – Our brains are wired to recall emotions. Studies show that if a brand (think your author brand) is connected with a certain emotion, people will experience that emotion every time they encounter your brand. For those of you who are neuroscience geeks like I am, read “Rethinking Emotions in Marketing.” An informative piece about how our brains process and store emotional messages.
- Emotion compels connection – Have you every shared a frightening experience with a stranger? I have, and I can tell you I will NEVER forget that person’s face. His kindness during a terrifying plane ride is etched in my memory. Emotions connect us as human beings, so don’t be afraid to be there for your fellow humans. Even if you only know someone through social media, you can still lend a hand, share a smile or offer a show of support.
- Emotion provokes reaction – Despite its ten year of success, not everyone likes StoryCorps. There are plenty of negative reactions to their radio segments. What’s interesting is people take the time to comment even when they don’t like a story. Emotions wake us up and encourage us to respond, whether negatively or positively. In today’s media-saturated world, where millions of messages compete for our attention, even a negative reaction is better than silence.
- Emotion is shared – We share what we care about, and typically we care about people and things to which we feel connected. Research shows that people rarely keep emotional experiences to themselves. If you’re only shouting at readers, “buy my book,” you’re just contributing to the noise in the system. Instead, share a bit of yourself. Let readers know who you are and why you write.
I’m not advocating that you bombard readers with emotional tales while promoting your book. What I am suggesting is keep it real. We are emotional beings and it is okay to share your daily stories – your struggles and triumphs, your ups and downs, your passions and dislikes – as well as authentically respond to other people’s emotional messages and stories. So put a little heart into your book promotion and see what happens.
Kathy Meis (@katmeis) is founder of the award-winning social book discovery and commerce platform, Bublish (@BublishMe). She is also a professional writer, editor and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries. She has worked for such prestigious editorial brands as CBS and Forbes. Kathy is a frequent blogger on the subject of book promotion, author branding and discoverability.