Many creative types working at advertising agencies have a book-in-the-works, stashed away in their desk drawers. (Hey, Don DeLillo was a copywriter!) Huge Labs’ creative director Andrew Kessler recently joined the slim list of those who see theirs published. Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission, Kessler’s story about the 90 days he spent in NASA’s mission control center for a Mars exploration, was published last year by Pegasus Books. Adman Kessler knew how to generate a media buzz (he even converted a vacant storefront in Brooklyn into a bookstore that sold only his book!) but the press didn’t lead to sales, it led to speaking events, which did (eventually) lead to sales.
Here’s how: Kessler’s first speaking events were a disaster; attendance averaged three. So with his colleagues at Huge Labs, he designed an online platform to better beggar success for authors at such events, i.e., books sales, number of attendees, and/or an honorarium for the author. His Togather.com allows any interested party (bibliophiles, librarians, bookstore owners) to propose, schedule and manage events (if the author signs on), and helps to promote the event through email and social media. This isn’t a pro bono initiative, Huge is owned by the giant advertising conglomerate Interpublic Group, which encourages employees to build products that other companies can use even if there is no client to buy the product yet. As sole angel investor, Interpublic clearly believes in working Togather; the initiative currently has eight employees in its New York office ready for countdown.