The first time you see a cow, you notice it. But after driving past dozens of brown cows, they cease to be exciting. If a purple cow shows up, though — now that’s remarkable.
Seth Godin’s 2003 book Purple Cow initiated me into the world of marketing. In it, he makes the case that in order to sell something it must be literally “remark-able.” The idea or product needs to be easy for people to talk about and share, and it has to be remarkable enough that people want to talk about and share it. Like a purple cow. If you saw one, wouldn’t you tell somebody?
Marketing has been a hobby of mine ever since reading Seth’s book. There are all kinds of marketing ideas out there, but the best ones boil down to one thing: focus on your audience.
And so, when I set out to write and publish my novel, Consumption, I set out to create a purple cow that will better the lives of the people who read it.
A novel is a brown cow in a field of brown cows. The first step toward creating a purple cow was to make my novel different, but I didn’t want it to stand out simply for the sake of standing out. I wanted to make my novel outstanding in a way that would benefit my readers. So instead of writing twenty-some normal chapters, I broke my novel up into eighty-one vignettes that are easy to read, even in our internet culture of short tweets and digital screens.
Now that I have written Consumption, I’m using “purple cow” concepts to guide how I publish it. Brown cow novels are published in their entirety as ebooks, paperbacks, or hardbacks. My purple cow novel will be published here on my website as a serial, one vignette at a time. The story takes place over the winter of 2016-17, so my audience can read the story as it unfolds, beginning tomorrow under the full moon on Karina’s 18th birthday.
Choosing to publish Consumption online for free this winter makes it easy for my readers to share it. If a vignette touches them, they can share it on social media. If they know someone who would enjoy the story, they can text them the link.
Consumption won’t be available for free forever. Eventually it will become an ebook and a paperback that people can buy in order to support my work. By then I will be on to creating my next purple cow as I come up with more ways to make the lives of my audience better. Because in the end, that’s the point of a purple cow: providing people with something that makes their own lives more remarkable.