Thursday, July 9, 2009

Promotion in the form of Pizza

In 1981, my father, Carmello Scarlato, opened his own pizza place in Calumet city. As the years progressed, business was picking up. It picked up so much that he then owned three pizza places and maintained a bar while still working at a shampoo factory. I think my father invented multi-tasking.

The business closed in late '93 and it looked like that was that.

But it wasn't.

In July of 1996, my father once again opened up the Scarlato's Pizzeria. He remembers the first day like it was yesterday. The restaurant was between a convenience store and a dollar store. The first few hours, people would pass, occasionally looking in the windows. We were new to this town, which meant a wall was up. Total strangers were walking past. Only two or three actually came in for a slice. My father would have none of this slow business, not after he had worked so hard to setup the new restaurant, after making his mark in Calumet city. He feverishly started making jumbo size 20 inch pizza's. We set up tables outside and we'd put on top three separate toppings; cheese, sausage and pepperoni.

Now people were slowing down, taking time to come forward and ask what was going out. We were giving away free pizza the first day. My father was flipping dough through the windows and cooking up a storm. After making 20 free pizza's, the restaurant was packed with new customers. "People were coming out of the woodwork's," my father tells me.

So you might be asking why the hell am I talking about pizza all of a sudden.

Well, it's to illustrate a point when it comes to publishing.

My father received the original recipe for the pizza from his dad. He told me he was the only who was told the recipe. My father, as well as myself and others, knew, once you bit into that pizza, it was the best there is . . . period. Convincing people of that was half the battle.

My father took advantage of people's hunger and curiosity by satisfying it. He knew that the most powerful tool when it comes to promoting yourself and your work is word of mouth. Word of mouth is like a brush fire, it catches quickly. And, just like in publishing today, you have to promote some of your work for free. You have to give them a taste of it. One little taste goes a very long way.

The restaurant closed in 2000 but my father insists, "Business was great right up until the last day when we closed."

So, for those of you who are shy from promoting your work or feel that people wouldn't like it, let me give you a bit of advice. If you truly believe in your work, if you know that others would like it, put yourself out there. Many authors before you have promoted themselves in this fashion. They woke up one day, just like you, saying, "I'm tired of my dead end job. I'm tired of not leaving my mark. Damnit, I have stories to tell and I don't want them to be lost without even being found first."

In order to establish yourself, you must be proactive. You can't just let readers fall into your lap. You have to find them. They are out there.

For a writer, the hardest thing is to sum up your novel in 200 words or less. It will summarize it but it won't capture the feel of the novel. That's why it's so hard to get literary agents and publish houses to recognize you. You are not even a blip on their radar yet. You're a stranger with a story to tell, like billions of others. You have to find recognition before you can find publication.

Then, you'll not only find readers and a community of people telling you they like what you bring to the table, but it will encourage others as well.

As far as my father and the restaurant goes, (and if your asking, "where can I get this legendary pizza?") he's told me he plans to open up another restaurant within the year.

Has his customer base dropped since then?

I would say not.

To this day, people, friends and family are still telling me it was the best pizza they ever had.

So go out there, aspiring writers and readers alike. Work your ass off in making yourself a household name. Send out newsletters, get email addresses, setup up your own blog or website, create a buzz, update people. But the most important thing you can do is KEEP WRITING. Because believe me, if your stuff is good . . . it's a really good chance that, like the consumers that people are, they WILL be hungry for more.

The kid in orange is my brother Tony. Still have one more pic to upload.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss

1 comment:

Elisa said...

Excellent post! You've made me hungry... for both pizza and promotion. Care for a slice, anyone?