Mark Levy's website is http://www.levyinnovation.com .
Mark was born in Flushing, Queens in 1962, and lived in spitting distance of Shea Stadium. He was frightened of public school, loved playing baseball and football, ran home to watch ape films on the 4:30 Movie, listened to The Jam and The Buzzcocks, and read magic trick books.
At 18, he went to Queens College -- a school whose most notable scholar is Jerry Seinfeld. Mark enjoyed college, because he got to pick his own subjects. Instead of Math, he took a course in which he analyzed monster pictures. Not surprisingly, Mark received excellent grades, and graduated with a Magna Cum Laude writing degree in 1985.
Outside of college, no one cared that he could analyze monster pictures, so he became a bookstore clerk. That started his long affiliation with the book industry. He moved from retail to publishing, and from publishing to wholesaling.
Along the way, he was steadily promoted, and became a sales manager, a director of special projects, and helped his companies sell over one billion dollars worth of books. He was nominated three times for The Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year Award.
Why was Mark so successful at selling? One of his colleagues said it best (and she didn't mean it as a compliment): "When you think a particular book is important, you're messianic about it. You won't stop."
In 1997, Mark was having dinner with his friend David Pogue, author of Macs for Dummies, when David said it might be fun to work on a book together. Since Mark knew nothing about computers, they settled on writing a book about the only subject they had in common: magic. Both Mark and David were amateur magicians. They created Magic for Dummies, and Mark got the bug for bookwriting.
Mark's next effort was solo: Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing. Lots of luminaries loved it: Tom Peters, Ray Bradbury, Al Ries, Jay Conrad Levinson, and Ace Greenberg. Mark did a publicity stunt for the book, which did wonders for its sales. To date, it's been translated into six languages: Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, and Japanese.
(Did you know that certain American phrases don't translate well into other languages? It's true. None of the translators could make sense of the phrase "Accidental Genius." The Spanish changed the book's title to "Writing and Creativity." The Germans called it "Genius Moments." But the Japanese version is Mark's favorite: "Everything Will Go Well As You Write And Think.")
Mark started writing for magazines and newspapers (including The New York Times). One such gig led to his next co-authored book. He was interviewing NBC-TV magician Mac King for an article about Las Vegas magic. During a break, Mac reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a dozen stapled sheets, and handed them to Mark. Those sheets were the beginnings of what would eventually become, Tricks With Your Head -- a book in which the human head is the central prop in each trick. Readers learn how to safely stab a fork in their eye, suck a French Fry up their nose, and read a person's mind with a drinking straw.
About this time, Mark started pursuing other business interests, particularly on the magic front. A New York City magician, Steve Cohen, met Mark, appreciated his business savvy, and hired him to do positioning work. The upshot of their association? Steve became "The Millionaires' Magician," began staring in his own off-Broadway show, Chamber Magic, and made Mark the show's Creative Director. Mark began to see life outside the book industry.
In February of 2002, Mark made the decision to leave books, and use his business, writing, and magic talents to make companies memorable. He started his positioning and branding firm, Levy Innovation. Even early on, Mark's marketing solutions were unconventional. An example? Says Mark:
"A famous e-book author phoned me and said, 'One of my old paperback books went out of print. I bought the final 2,000 copies for a buck a piece. How do I sell them?'
"I said, 'Selling them is a waste of time. Here's what you do. Take 1,800 copies, shred them, put them in a bathtub, sit in the tub so that just your head sticks out, have a photo taken, and put it on a news release that says, 'Author Takes A Bath In His Own Books.' Use the body of the release to talk about how you went from a near-destitute paperback author, to a six figure a year e-book author. That way, the white elephant of your paperbacks supports the profitable side of your business, e-books.
"'What do I do with the 200 copies I didn't shred?' he asked.
"They become valuable collectibles. Sell them at triple the cover price."
Mark's latest book, How to Persuade People Who Don't Want To Be Persuaded, was published by Wiley in June of 2004. He wrote it with legendary tradeshow pitchman, Joel Bauer. The book has been as high as #6 on BN.com and #71 on Amazon.
He has also contributed chapters to two other books:
The E-Code: 33 Internet Superstars Reveal 43 Ways to Make Money Online Almost Instantly - Using Only E-Mail!, by Joe Vitale and Jo Han Mok (Wiley, 2005)
Positively M.A.D.: Making a Difference in Your Organizations, Communities, & the World. Stories and Ideas From 50 of Today's Leading Experts, Edited by Bill Treasurer (Berrett-Koehler, 2004)
Recently, Mark returned to school; this time, as an instructor. He now teaches "Writing for Businesses and Professionals" at Rutgers University.
He lives in Clinton, New Jersey with his lovely wife, Stella; his Shiba Inus, Jofu and Bea; his cats,Tiger and Jinx; and Betsy the parakeet.