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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Anger Friends and Alienate People (Redux)



Let’s face it: it’s hard to promote your own book. When I decided to publish “A Soul to Steal,” I knew I’d have to do some marketing, but I really believed that given the right set of circumstances, my book would be discovered on it’s own.
But that isn’t how it works. With the flood of indie books out there, it’s hard to get attention for your novel. So what’s a budding author to do?
Well, you can query book bloggers and start a blog, and maybe buy some advertisements. But that sounds like a lot of work. So I thought about it long and hard—at least two minutes—and came up with a few options that I decided to test out. I’m sure one of these will put me on the road to bestseller any minute.

1)                  Fake my own death
A couple of weeks ago, a Facebook book blogger decided that the best way to get attention for her new page was to pretend she had been in a life-threatening car accident. The details were gruesome: her brother, 5-year old Duncan, was dead, and the blogger herself supposedly slipped into a coma.
The stunt resulted in a wave of attention as good, normal people—who had no reason to think the blogger was making this up—offered their heartfelt best wishes, prayers and assistance. Eventually, however, the truth was uncovered. Apparently she had made up the story to a) earn “likes” for her page on Facebook, and b) receive free books from authors looking to promote themselves on her page.
Which was totally bizarre. For one, what happened when the truth was uncovered? Virtually everyone who had liked her page immediately “unliked” it and she ended up deleting the page. For another, who sends books to a blogger in a coma?
Lesson: Faking my own death would undoubtedly win the book more attention, but it’s hard to see much upside beyond that. Since I’m dead, I can’t write sequels, promote my novel or, oh yeah, ever see my friends again. Also, it violates one of my basic codes of conduct: Don’t be an asshole.

2)                  Steal From Other Books
Quentin Rowan caused quite a stir when it was revealed that his much praised debut novel, "Assassin of Secrets," was mostly plagiarized. And when I say mostly, I mean all of it except the words “the,” “but” and “bootylicious.”
Seriously, Rowan—whose own nom de plume, Q.R. Markham, was also stolen—is like the Olympic gold medal winner for lifting from other books. He stole virtually every line from somewhere: old James Bond novels, assorted spy thrillers, Ladies Home Journal, etc.
When the truth came out, Rowan didn’t even have the good sense to slink away in shame. No, this guy actually published an article in The Fix, a magazine about addiction, claiming that plagiarism was like an addiction. He was young, under pressure and when he scored a valuable book contract, felt strangely compelled to steal from other, better writers rather than making up his own book. His “confession” is hilarious in its absolute narcissism. He admits he was a liar and a thief, but wants us to give him credit that he fessed up so readily after he was caught. Also, his parents cried when they found out and his “beautiful” girlfriend left him—and now don’t we feel bad for saying all this mean stuff about him? No, I don’t feel bad, Quentin—if that is even your real name. The only thing I want to know is where you stole your “confession” from.
 Lesson: Stealing from other books a) will be discovered and b) is not a form of flattery. Sure, Rowan’s book sold really well in the aftermath of the accusations—even as his publisher tried to yank it from shelves—but it’s hard to build much success off that.

3) Marry a Kardashian
Seriously, I don't know who this is
Seriously, I think this is my best bet. Apparently, marrying a celebrity instantly makes you a celebrity too. So all I need to do is find a Kardashian and marry one—I don’t even need to stay married to her for very long—and boom: I’m famous and the book is a hit.
There’s just one problem: I have no idea who the Kardashians are. I’m being totally serious. The funny thing about pop culture is that I usually absorb it unconsciously even when I don’t care about it. I can tell you about the recent plot twists on “Two and a Half Men,” and I’ve never once watched the show. I don’t know how I know this: it’s the most useless psychic power there is.
But with the Kardashians, I’m totally lost. I don’t know who they are, where they came from or why they’re famous.
Lesson: It turns out I’m already married and my wife was not pleased with this suggestion.

4. Write a good book
Here’s another idea. Rather than looking for a short-cut, I could just take a long time to write and polish a book, release it into the wild, and ask people to buy it. If it’s good, maybe, just maybe, it will sell some on its own via word of mouth. If not, I can write another book, and hope that eventually, I'll gain a following. It's hard work, but it doesn't involve lying to friends and family, stealing from authors I love, or figuring out who the Kardashians are. 
 Lesson: We may be onto something here. I will have to give this more thought.

So, what do you think I should do? Marry a Kardashian? Steal from Stephen King? Leave a comment below!

P.S. This post is a repeat of one that originally went out in December. Apologies for any who have seen it already.

11 comments:

  1. Please send it again. About once a month would be just about right. Loved it. Absolutely, loved it...

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  2. ROFL. Well, you could fake your own death, pretend to be a zombie and write first-hand accounts of the zombie apocalypse. :D

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  3. I don't know who the Kardashians are either - seriously! I say fake a marriage to one of them, but let her find out during the wedding night that you already have a wife, then sign the divorce papers - then tell the press that you divorced her for arguing with you on your wedding night.
    Badda bing - badda boom!

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  4. @Sonia, I like the way you think! My Time As A Zombie: A Narrative of Life, Loss and Braaaaaiiiins.

    @Kimberly, Now I have a plan! This could totally work, and it's much easier than, you know, actually doing any work. Thanks for the tip!

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  5. Haaa! Brilliant!! Great blog, Rob. Spot on, of course!

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  6. Not only funny but makes its point as well - cleverly. Well done, Rob. I agree with Jack. You need to post this again.

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  7. Thanks, Christina! Really appreciate it.

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  8. Spot on, Rob, and of course the only way out is to write another smashing book one your sexlife as the husband of a zombie Kardashian...and don't tell your wife!

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  9. You know, a book about zombie Kardashians would undoubtedly sell well. But I'd have to figure out who they are, I guess.

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