A Creative Idea Which Took Off

As much as I read magazines, newspapers and books plus follow other types of media, I completely missed PostSecret—until yesterday when it was featured in an article on the front page of USA Today. If you haven’t heard, blogger Frank Warren started PostSecret and individuals anonymously mail them to his Washington, D.C. home. To date, they’ve mailed over 30,000 postcards.

These Secret-Tellers have earned Warren what his publisher, Judith Regan, calls the title of “the most trusted stranger in America..” Some of these secrets are sad and some of them are funny. Warren reads every postcard then selects 10 to 20 each week which are posted to his blog—and millions of people are eagerly waiting to read these postcards with secrets. Postsecrets

Some of these postcards are admittedly “adult” rated in their content but I want to use the story to point out several things about the writing world.

First, Warren had a creative idea which took off in terms of popularity and audience. Millions of people wanted to read these postcards and even lined up for an art exhibit.  Because of the growing audience (which doesn’t hurt if you are on the front page of USA Today), a book publisher (Regan Books) brought out his first book in December. In three months, the sales for PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives have been brisk so they are planning four more. The book is a compilation of 400 postcards.  To validate the sales number, his Amazon.com number was #29 this morning.

Notice the book title is more than PostSecret—but has some extra words in the subtitle to draw you to the book.  Also I noticed the reader reviews for this book which has been on the market three months—over 100 of them.

To me, Frank Warren’s blog, his book and other aspects like the art exhibit, point out how a niche market can take off and be successful. Some days you may feel like there is nothing else to be written or proposed to an editor.  Can you tap a felt need for readers and put it into a magazine article or a book proposal? Can you go ahead and begin to reach those readers through a website or a blog or some other mechanism (other than a postcard) which will collectively show the publisher that a ready-made audience exists?

The opportunities are there simply waiting to be created.

4 Responses to “A Creative Idea Which Took Off”

  1. Gina Holmes Says:

    You have such a great marketing mind. That postcard idea, huh, I would never have thought of somethinglike that. Very interesting.

  2. Terry Whalin Says:


    I didn’t think of it either–but Frank Warren did and it’s taken off like a rocket. I believe there are many other ideas out there which could do the same for others. With the large number of books that are being published each year, the author is forced to do something to stand out from the competition. Each of us have to be pushed into this area–some are more willing than others to go there.

    The Writing Life

  3. Sandy Cathcart Says:


    Think, think, think.

    What new thing can I do?


    This could actually be fun!


  4. Heather Ivester Says:

    Wow — talk about marketing! Did you know the McDonald’s bags this week have Vonetta Flowers’ picture on them? I think I’m going to blog this tomorrow since she’s a mom. (And I like blogging about successful moms.)

    Here’s what the bag says: “I push myself harder than I push my blobsled. I can hit 80 mph in less than a minute. I’m faster than any woman alive. I am Vonetta Flowers. I am golden.” Next to her picture, it says: “Vonetta Flowers. Olympic Bobsledder. Mom.”

    You may have already seen this since you wrote about her — but as far as great marketing ideas: I’m lovin’ it!

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