Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to

To sell or not to sell: the now-non-existent question?

The Dallas Morning News contains an article by Jerome Weeks that stresses the need for authors to know how to promote their work. And he doesn’t mean the bare-bones basics of not getting drunk at readings (although that can have its own special charm) and putting in time at every little earnest litfest that pops up nearby. Weeks says that one needs to come to the table with a fully-blown top-drawer marketing plan in place with the cherry on top of a doozy of a gimmick.

Or at least some super-targeted marketing. He mentions one author who penned a birdwatching tome. Knowing his publisher’s marketing staff wouldn’t exactly be clawing each other’s eyes out over who got the glory of shilling this read, he came prepared with the relatively cheap and no-muss-no-fuss option of sending him to a selection of Audubon Societies around the country, and he’d chip in on the roadtrips on the side to hit as many as possible.

A friend of Weeks’s does this chap one better by recruiting the possible market for her own book — dance workshops, flamenco instructors and guitarists — not only to read her work, but to perform at other more pedestrian readings to get the juices going … and the wallets opening.

Weeks then muses on the nature of the beast: “Not every novel lends itself to this, of course. And serious book lovers may wonder what live dance has to do with the art of literature. But just as America has turned into a “sink or swim” society, publishers keep abandoning worthy authors to a marketplace stacked against them. And they do this while newspapers and electronic media are ditching arts coverage. In such a world, a little barnstorming self-promotion is a basic survival skill. And doing it with some flamenco flair is just smart.”

Related links:
Read the The Dallas Morning News piece here