Brenda Thomas Attracts Vast Media Attention
by Audra Shivers
When I last spoke with Philly writer Brenda Thomas, author of Threesome: Where Seduction, Power and Basketball Collide, she discussed her experience as a self-published author who had been discovered by a major New York publisher, Simon & Schuster. Now, nearly one year later, she discusses her current projects, and shares her thrilling experience of being sought after by the media.
’It has been a media blitz!’ Thomas says excitedly. One can surmise that her sudden exposure in the limelight could be attributed to diligent marketing, a clever storyline, and impeccable luck in timing. Threesome is the tale of Sasha Borianni, an attractive, thirty-something executive secretary who, among other things, is caught in the middle of the exciting, sexually charged underground of professional basketball.
Thomas says that the day news broke regarding Kobe Bryant's alleged sexual assault charges, she received a call the following morning from a Dateline producer to come to New York to be interviewed for their show. Dateline learned of Thomas and her book through the Internet.
’We were very easy to find’we weren’t hiding,’ says Earl Cox, referring to the flourish of phone calls he and Thomas received after the Bryant case broke. Cox has been working with Thomas to develop her literary career since the inception of her book. He is president and CEO of Writers and Poets.com, a New Jersey-based publishing and consulting firm. Cox says that heavy promotion on the Internet was one of the strategies he used to support Thomas's marketing efforts to get her name out as an emerging author.
In addition, Cox, a former sales associate with John Wiley & Sons, inc., published Thomas's book under his company's name to give it more leverage in the marketplace. ’I wanted to give her the framework of a publishing company,’ he says, explaining that had they published the book under her name, it may have been more challenging to get the book into certain bookstores and chains, especially at the wholesale level.
When the Bryant case hit, Cox says that Brenda was the first one the media called upon to get the scoop on the off-the-court play of NBA players, even though there were other authors with similar books.
Thomas says although Threesome is fiction, it was her experience as a former assistant to NBA All-Star Stephon X. Marbury that gave her credibility as a spokesperson for the off-the-court activities of NBA athletes. She believes that if she had written a novel about the sexual escapades of NBA players but had never worked closely with them, she would not have been approached by the media.
Cox adds that he and Thomas promoted her book a lot, giving away nearly 1,000 copies to get word-of-mouth promotion going. He says that early on, he and Thomas felt it would be important to position her as a credible NBA-insider who had written a book and was able to give insight on the lifestyle of professional basketball players.
After Thomas's Dateline interview, she says she ended up staying in New York for a week as other media began contacting her, ’They [media] even found my cell phone number,’ she adds in astonishment. Thomas subsequently appeared on CNN, Court TV, The Dan Abrams Report, Entertainment Tonight, E! True Hollywood Story’to name a few’as well as numerous radio and print media. ’When you put yourself out there, people will find you,’ she says, noting that one television appearance created a domino effect of media opportunities. The result, she happily admits, was more book sales. In fact, Cox says 50,000 copies of her book have sold since 2001.
Thomas has written a sequel to Threesome called Fourplay: Dance of Sensuality, which will continue the amorous escapades of Sasha, and is due to hit bookstores April 6, 2004. With the help of her family, Thomas sent a direct mailing to 2,500 people to notify of her book's debut. ’I didn't realize I had met so many people,’ she says, referring to the three years she spent promoting Threesome.
She says at first she thought her marketing effort for Fourplay was for naught until she began receiving feedback via e-mail. ’People are so excited about the book,’ Thomas says happily, admitting that the response she received helped fuel her energy and realize that her efforts didn't go unnoticed. ’I guess it's the same thing performers experience when they’re on stage,’ she says, adding that feedback lets writers know that there are people out there who are aware of their work and anticipate it.
Thomas has planned a fabulous launch party for Fourplay to be held March 31 in Philadelphia. She says she spent more than $300 on postage alone, not including the cost to design and print the invitations sent to 1,000 guests. Cox says there will be lots of industry insiders and possibly a few celebrities and media, ’It's going to be really exciting, she's on the map now.’
In addition, Thomas says Simon & Schuster is sending her on a 2 ’ month book tour. ’I think I'll only be home for about two weeks during that time. The good thing is they’re picking up the costs,’ she quips.
With all of her exposure, the literary agent of a very popular rap artist was also able to track Thomas down to offer her an appealing opportunity. ’I'm working with Lil’ Kim on her novel due to come out next February,’ she reveals. Thomas says that her meetings with the popular rap artist created much excitement among the younger relatives in her extended clan. ’Lil’ Kim is very nice,’ Thomas continues, adding that she finds her to be very down-to-earth and easy to work with.
With all of her fame, Thomas has not forgotten her loyal fans’the members of book clubs, ’They've all been invited to the launch party and I also sent them a galley of Fourplay.’ She says she is indebted to the book clubs for their loyalty and for fueling her energy as a writer, ’I should be bringing them food,’ she jokes, referring to their hospitality during her visits.
Among her other projects, Thomas has contributed a short story to an anthology titled Four Degrees of Heat, which will debut in July; she impishly describes the book as a compilation of sexy, summer escapades. She also is working on her book titled The Velvet Rope, which will debut this November. ’I've been writing like a madwoman!’ she exclaims.
In terms of Thomas's success, Cox says it is just what he had in mind for her. ’We really came up together,’ Thomas adds, since Cox had only recently left Wiley when she hired him as her consultant.
Thomas, writing and marketing go hand in hand, a partnership that has rendered
her much success in terms of book sales and attracting the media. When it comes
to promotions, she says, ’I feel that nudge that I've gotta do more’I've got
marketing in my blood.’
Publisher's note: On March 31st over 500 fans attended the launch party for Fourplay, The Dance of Sensuality at the Solefood Restaurant in Philadelphia. The place was packed and over 800 copies of both books were sold.
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