Publish to Prosper – Creating a Platform

How to use ugly ties to sell your book!

by Pete Ferguson

Several years back, I heard a neighbor talk about a book he had just written about men’s neckties entitled “What Knot to Wear.”

After getting over the obscurity of the topic, I asked him what inspired the idea and he told me of an intriguing story about President Obama having to “upgrade” the way he tied his tie from a basic to a more advanced knot. It got my attention.

When Russ first mentioned the idea, I started thinking about what I would do to promote the topic if it were my book. Here are some thoughts that came to mind:

A nice, safe, business picture

Father’s Day is THE day for ties – hold an “ugliest tie” contest with a local radio station and television early morning program. Give out free books to the top 5, and encourage others to post their fashion foible on a website or FaceBook page. Now that Father’s Day is past, host an ugly tie flea market where people can trade.

Create an interactive book. I recall a pull out section of GQ in my teens that had plastic overlays with different ties and shirts so you could see what went together. I picked it up often and mixed and matched various combinations. Get people to pick it up and play with it in the store and they are likely to throw it on their tab.

This gets noticed more

Create an interactive website. YouTube videos and senseless trivia on the history of the collar, tie, dress shirt, shoes, those funny things that people used to wear to keep up their socks, etc. should all be included.

Become the subject matter expert on all-things-ties. Wait for a royal wedding, celebrity wedding, or some other event where there is a wardrobe malfunction or fashion rule violation involving a tie. Then pound the pavement with local media and become the talking head.

Positioning: this is not a book that you sell at Barnes & Noble, it is a book you sell at the cash register at the Men’s Warehouse for $25, but with a 20% discount if the customer agrees to buy $100 or more in clothing.

This one sold millions – but would have excluded Russ’ target conservative, religious audience

Follow the genius of the Chicken Soup books, create an entire franchise of fashion to include instruction on what shoes to wear, pants, to suspender – or not to suspender, sock garters, etiquette and protocol, etc.

Blanket social media. If the target audience is the up and coming generation hitting Wall Street, frequent those blogs.

Know your audience. People want to dress up for job interviews, prom, dinners at cruises, holiday parties, etc. Be well positioned for each in social media circles. In Russ’ case, he is going after a conservative and religious base.

Be a guest speaker for etiquette and protocol nights hosted at local colleges. When I was a Communications major, we were required to attend at least one such dinner to be sure we didn’t embarrass ourselves in front of potential clients, bosses, spouse(s), etc.

I was amazed that once I started thinking about it, a topic that I originally thought had very little potential actually had multiple potential paths of success.

But like anything, the trick is to understand in this case you are not selling a book on ties – you are creating a platform to discuss your passion and connect with your audience. The book is one of many tactics. The overall strategy in my mind is to create a tribe of like-minded people.

What additional ideas can you come up with? Help Russ out!

Learn: What is your passion? Neck ties, pit bulls, pansies, UFOs – the process is the same, get to know everything you can about your subject. Reach out to any expert who will talk to you and find out what has gone well for them and what failed.

Act: Get in the circles that discuss your passionate topic. Online is great, in person creates long-term connections, a mixture of both is even better. You need to become the local subject matter expert and it will not happen over night, so start now.

Share: Talk to anyone who will listen. When you have your book, have a lot of people read it before you publish to get their feedback. Don’t be afraid of someone stealing your idea. Ideas are like belly buttons, everyone has one, most just collect lint. Your power is your ability to take action. Sure others may try to copy you, but you will have your own unique take and you will already have something printed and close to production.

Buy Russ’ book on Amazon or check out his website ( and help him out.


Photo Credits:

Credit: “thegroovegarden”


Use ugly ties to sell your book!


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