This came to a friend of mine in the media who was attending the Book Expo America this past weekend:
Authorpreneurs Seek Desperate Measures at Javits’ Book Expo this Wkend – testament to the economy
Due to the current economic climate, it’s becoming clear that many authors are having to come up with creative, gimmicky marketing tactics to nab the attention of publishers.
… check out one author’s zany way of getting media attention: Author, Connie Bennett (SUGAR SHOCK!), will be walking around with a sandwich board which appears to be something like that of a personal ad (but in search of a publisher), which asks, “Are You the One?”
But Bennett is not hunting for a husband – rather she’s in search of a publisher for her second book. She even facetiously offers to “put out on the first date” to the publisher of choice. (Meaning she’ll share the scoop about her new book/put out sales from the start).
…Even yesterday… a couple at Publisher’s University at the Roosevelt Hotel wearing crazy outfits which depicted the title and scene from their book.
Economy my Aunt Mabel. Every year the BEA attracts more than its fair share of those unencumbered with dignity and professionalism. I remember seeing the gent who wandered around with a toilet seat on his head in years past. Made me wince every time I passed him. The guy who wore a giant question mark came in a close second. Painful stuff.
These types always collect a variety of opinions ranging from “ooo la la, can she ever promote!” to “please, how do I unsee this travesty?” Yes, the publishing industry is in a time of evolution due to the economy, but good gogly mogly, how ridiculous must it get? Personally, I’m not attracted to these showboaters because I’m never quite sure where they draw the line. Obviously I adore authors who are eager to promote their book, but do I want to read in the front page that one of my darlings paraded outside a courtroom wearing nothing more than a mop on their head and a smile? Not unless I have them already fitted for a designer straight jacket.
To date, I have yet to see where the showboating didn’t exceed the author’s literary attempts. I have no idea if Ms. I’ll Put Out is a good writer or not. She’s well published with her first book, and her theatrics have me asking a couple questions; why didn’t her editor take this book; and why does she need to resort to this in order to attract attention? Is there something wrong with her writing? It’s like Derek Schultz in high school; he was good looking, loud, brash, Mr. It on campus. But we all discovered that his loud mouth made up for the fact that he had no personality and kissed like a marmoset. Someone in need of that kind of attention always has me suspicious that they are lacking where it counts.
This idea of “authorpreneurs” is an interesting notion because fewer marketing dollars are being spent by publishers, and authors are looking for a way to stand out. Attracting an audience is one thing. Attracting a publisher is quite another, and these authorpreneurs need to understand both audiences. Editors aren’t easily swayed by the gee-wizardry of someone willing to wear a toilet seat on their head. Sure, we’ll laugh and call them brave. But will we sign them? Who knows? It comes down to the writing.
A willingness to wear a giant question mark doesn’t make for a good writer. I have to sell the damn book, remember? My authors don’t accompany every ARC that I send out to reviewers, librarians, and genre buyers, so they can’t perform their shtick. It comes down to what’s resting on the pages, and no amount of “hey look at me” will divert a professional’s attention away from the book.
So authors, if you think donning a giant shoe hat and sandwich board will get your foot in the door with an editor, please rethink the strategy. Maintain your dignity and concentrate on your writing. It would be a shame to whup out all the bells and whistles only to discover you kiss like a marmoset.