Monday, February 06, 2006

Perhaps I'm Just In A Bad Mood

Last year I began planning to get more involved with marketing my book, Happy Kid!, which is coming out in May. (That's not a plug. It's totally pertinent. Really.) So I read a book on book marketing, and I made a marketing plan the way the book told me to. I started looking for ways to get my name out more. I sent the marketing plan to my editor, along with some little gifts to distribute to the people at the launch meeting. (I should be able to explain what a launch meeting is because I read that marketing book,but I must be repressing it or something.) I sent the gifts because I'd read somewhere that that kind of thing will make the people at your publisher remember you. Now I feel very manipulative and embarrassed about doing that. Sleazy, in fact.

I wrote a press release back before Christmas and started sending out arcs and photos with the release. (Oh! I started working on the photos last spring! And they still stink!) This last month I've been contacting bookstores and continuing to look for places where I might be able to get Happy Kid! reviewed or get some press for myself. And I've been working on a forty-five minute talk I'll be giving at a writer's retreat later in the month. I also have to work on another hour presentation (different topic) for next month. (Oops. I still have to make a motel reservation for that one.)

I'll be paid for these speeches, but they are still part of the publicity push I'm doing for this new book. I feel I need to push harder for this book because the last one didn't sell all that well, so I'm trying to help the next one along so publishers will consider me a desirable author.

I am a publicity whore, and I am sick to death of it. I am tired of calling bookstores, having people act all excited to hear from me, and then never contact me again. I am tired of doing Internet searches for newspaper addresses. I am tired of looking for schools to contact in selected areas. I am tired of reading about how other authors who are nervier and cooler than I am did it. I am tired of the whole thing.

I want to go back to work. I want to get started on a bunch of new projects. Dear God, I want to do research.

So imagine how thrilled I was to read The Case of the Mystery Writer's Brand, which is about James Patterson. It's not about James Patterson the writer, it's about James Patterson the "brand."

Law professor John Deighton, who has written a "case" called Marketing James Patterson, says, "I see his success as a sublime integration of operations and marketing. Patterson understands that if you want shelf space you need to publish a lot of books; that you need a production system with more than one author; and that you need to mind the brand."

What? I'm confused. Are we talking about something like The Stratemeyer Syndicate? Because I don't think I'm physically up for that.

It may just be the wrong moment for me to be reading this kind of thing. I'm definitely at the point where I'm beginning to feel that we care more about selling books than we do about writing them in the first place. A few years ago, I met a woman who was trying to write her first book. She had a long way to go. A long way. And yet, I heard she had marketing gimmicks planned to submit to publishers with the book that hadn't been finished.

I know it's naive to think a good book will sell itself or find an audience. And, truly, I don't believe I'm above hustling my own books. I'm not very good at it, but I'm definitely not above it. I just feel that we've got our priorities wrong. We should be spending more time on how to create our products than how to marketing them. We're not just putting the horse before the cart now. We're putting all our effort into building carts and not giving nearly as much thought to the horses that are going to pull them.

You'll have to excuse me. I've got to go tell my computer guy that he needs to make me some new postcards to send to Audubon Centers. I'm planning to try to convince them that they really need my last book,Saving the Planet & Stuff, for Earth Day.

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