Inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock

Last night, I watched the recent movie, Hitchcock. Don’t worry: I won’t spoil the plot for you.

In this movie, I saw many parallels with the art and business of self-publishing:

  • The name Alfred Hitchcock was very well branded. The movie, while it may have a little more Hollywood style and a little less reality, provided some insight into his character as a movie maker. You can guess how his distinctive personality and specific talents helped with his branding.
  • The silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock was also very well branded. It wasn’t just a logo. Remember how he used to walk into the position where the silhouette would form? This technique really helped brand his image.
  • The movie revealed a few marketing tactics. He was not only renowned for creating suspense, but he was even effective at utilizing suspense in his marketing tactics.
  • At a stage where he may have been expected to retire, he dared to take a new direction with his filmmaking. He didn’t have the backing of the film industry (i.e. the big money) – at least, not to exercise his creativity and pursue this new direction his own way. So he was very much like an indie filmmaker. Of course, he had financial resources of his own, but he took a huge risk.
  • He abandoned the rules of what works and pursued his own ideals. Authors have long had traditional publishers telling us what works, not wishing to deviate more than about 10% from this established path. We now have the opportunity to pursue something different on our own. There is a great risk, as very often these new paths don’t succeed. But the door is now open.
  • Back in his day, censorship was fairly heavy. We have a great deal of freedom to write as we please these days, but a few authors still push the boundaries further. There will always be critics and lawmakers strongly involved in this.
  • Hitchcock didn’t just film a movie. You could get a sense for how much editing and formatting was involved afterward, and how important this was for the movie’s success. Similarly, there is much more to selling books than just writing them. The importance of editing and formatting cannot be overlooked.
  • In making a movie, there is a large production team involved with many people working on different tasks. These days, there are many indie authors trying to do the writing, editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, and public relations all on their own. At least, collaborating with others to share skills or ideas would help a little with teamwork.
  • It wasn’t just the movie idea that led to its success. You could see how the marketing ingenuity and seemingly little things like sound effects could play a very significant role. People skills and developing contacts are important, too. The same is true with publishing books.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers (Volume 2 now available)