“Authorpreneurs” my stinky foot

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.

13 Responses to “Authorpreneurs” my stinky foot

  1. I’m tempted to ask my wife if I kiss like a marmoset, but I don’t want to find out that she knows how a marmoset kisses.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Back on form, Lynn – good to have you back with a typically trenchant and necessary post.

    David – have more faith in yourself! Your wife would not choose a marmoset over you, I have no doubt.

  3. Nicola Morgan (Really) says:

    Bugger – sorry, am not really anonymous. Just that with other blogs I automatically appear as me, where on your esteemed blog I have to remember who I am.

  4. lynnpricewrites says:

    It’s ok, Nicola. I often have to ask the beagle who I am, too.

  5. Terese says:

    What is wrong with people?

    Your blog reminds me of a fashion show I helped my sister-in-law with a few years ago. We didn’t know it then, but some of the fashions were of the X-rated kind. (This was Vegas. ‘Nuf said.)

    A woman walked by holding a sign that asked: Is underwear really necessary?

    As she passed our table, we got the answer.


  6. Tricia says:

    Would love it if you would follow @storyexperiment on twitter. Your imagination and talend is just what we need.

  7. lynnpricewrites says:

    Alas, I am tweet-less. Or is that twit-less? Either way, I don’t have the time for anymore playthings. I have authors who will rise up against me and burn me at the stake. And with my fair skin, I burn easily…

  8. Connie Bennett says:

    Ms. Price, I’m sorry that you didn’t appreciate my zany publicity stunt at Book Expo America. However, I was intrigued by your insights. Let me clarify my intentions for wearing an “Are You `The One?” sandwich board at BEA. I was:

    1)Trying to be fun and funny when the publishing industry appears to be at a crossroads.

    2) Demonstrating that I’m a pro-active, personable author, who has the initiative, marketing savvy and sense of humor to drum up interest in my book(s), no matter what the economy.

    3) Pointing out that those of us who write books need to become what I call “author-preneurs.”

    4) Aiming to build a buzz for my next book, The Weight-Loss Habits of Highly Successful Losers.” (working title), BEFORE it’s even published;

    5) Finding new fans of both my current book, SUGAR SHOCK!, and upcoming book;

    6) Seeking to garner media attention and coverage;

    7) Hoping to make contacts that could lead to lucrative speaking engagements;

    8. Seeking to meet booksellers and librarians, who would stock my books;

    9) Open to meeting other author-preneurs with whom I could do cross-promotional ventures.

    In other words, wearing an “Are You ‘The One?’” sandwich board at BEA was primarily intended as a platform-building gimmick.

    Happily, the response to my marketing ploy was overwhelmingly positive—in fact, I heard lots of laughter and chuckles all weekend. Despite my over-the-top approach, I certainly have no plans to do any of the outrageous things you mentioned.

    By the way, look in your mailbox, because I’m sending you a copy of my book SUGAR SHOCK! That way, you can form your own decision as to the quality of my writing.

    Connie Bennett, M.S.J., C.H.H.C., A.A.D.P.

  9. lynnpricewrites says:

    Connie, I wish you all the luck in the world – obviously. From where I sit, I see many, many gimmicks come my way, and nearly all of them make me wince. I applaud your fearless attitude, but it’s just not my personal cup of tea because I have found that the show supersedes the writing. In your case, I hope I’m woefully wrong.

  10. Lynn, I appreciate your point of view. As a professional writer and trained journalist (with a master’s in journalism), I used to believe that superb writing was the most important part of a book.

    Now that I’ve had my first book published and attended numerous conferences for authors, I’ve come to learn that the writing is not nearly enough.

    As an author, you need to actively, creatively, perhaps outrageously promote your book and build your platform. In fact, a number of successful authors have told me that promoting is much more important than the writing.

    Therefore, while I always strive to do excellent writing, I’m also directing much of my energy to promoting and building my platform. (Hence my blogs, radio show, etc.)

    In this case, my sandwich-board stunt (or the “show,” as you put it) was just a way to get people to pay attention to the writing.

  11. yan says:

    “author-preneurs” why not? Being passive won’t get you anywhere.
    indeed promotion takes big part in every industry.
    if you can attract more people by walking around with a sandwich board,go ahead! It will open many opportunities.

  12. Beejay says:

    I find sandwich board pages extremely heavy and awkward to turn. Neon sign bassball caps are the way to go, or an invite to one of my legendary nuclear chilli parties
    with reading matter to peruse while I’m removing the the slightly piquant isotopes. I generally invite bald guys to eat, as their hair has already fallen out and cannot be blamed on the radio active paprikas or the small but dangerous chillies I employ to keep eyeballs wide open.

  13. A writer says:

    “if you can attract more people by walking around with a sandwich board”

    That’s a big if.

    “the response to my marketing ploy was overwhelmingly positive”

    But did you get a book deal?

    “—in fact, I heard lots of laughter and chuckles all weekend. ”

    I have no doubt you did. No doubt at all.

    “Therefore, while I always strive to do excellent writing,”


    I was very impressed by your flurry of qualifications. However, I’m afraid that, despite Googling, I couldn’t find a definition for C.H.H.C.. I found several for A.A.D.P. Congratulations on being one of the following: an Area Air Defense Plan, an Administrative Automatic Data Process, an Afghanistani (or African) Agriculture Development Program, a member of the American Academy of Denture Prostheticians, an amyloid A-degrading protease or part of the Asian American Donor Program. And best of luck with your new book.

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