On a recent episode of Mad Men, “The Monolith,” a huge IBM computer is being installed in the offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Don Draper, reduced to hack work as some sort of vindictive punishment, watches from his office.
A character named Lloyd is overseeing the installation. Taking a smoke break, Lloyd asks Don if advertising really works.
Don says, “It helps if you have a good product.”
Boom. All advertising wisdom and marketing strategy must ultimately be filtered through this one non-negotiable. You’ve gotta have a good product, a quality thing to sell.
This is as true for books as it is for Brylcreem. You can pour all the time and money you want into getting the word out, but that only gets you an introduction. To succeed people have to like your product enough to become a repeat customer.
So how do you know when you have a quality book? Here’s one way: