The Petrified Forest of Book Marketing and the Great Chain of Other People's Writers

By | on April 20, 2012 | 3 Comments

I call petrified any form of book marketing that is doesn’t encourage the end user to give back. Example: newspaper ads. What’s on offer from houses most of the time is book NARCeting where publishers try to sell books that marketing departments haven’t read.

Do the writer a favor and don’t sell their book. Tell the world what you love about the book. Book marketing should create a framework in which ideas about books are shared in an open atmosphere. That means that any idea about a book is worthwhile. The content has to be honest with the community of book lovers providing any necessary corrective for ill considered or uninformed ideas.

Literary criticism is for everybody: I invite publishers to launch an ark of book talk that is not a submarine. I have to laugh at book marketing campaigns that list “blogging events” where the publicist blows off the emails that the bloggers send them. Also one of my favorites is the sample copy that’s addressed generically to Dear Bookseller accompanied by a book that I would never read. That belongs in the petrified forest of book marketing.

There’s the letter from the editor that doesn’t include the editor’s email address: Don’t write to me but I am writing to you. But then there’s the galley that includes the phrase: “To arrange an interview please email…with the name of the publicist. High praise for Random House and any other publisher that encourages communication. As John Dewey, an early proto-blogger said: Of all things, communication is the most wonderful.

A knowledge-based book campaign, a campaign that would encourage the green shoots of book lovers to grow in place of the dead wood of indifferent marketers, would have to insure that every book on a publisher’s list got read by someone who is eager to talk about it.

But that already happens! Is there a single book on your list that has not been read by a book blogger somewhere?
Enlist the Army of the Light, also known as the book bloggers. Work with the bloggers up front to insure that every book on your list gets covered in time for its release. Have a beer with them, invite them into the office for a presentation, segmenting the bloggers out so you have an understanding with them that every book on your list will get covered. Will they co-operate? But you haven’t asked them!

Marketers used to rejoice that consumers who responded primarily with their feelings could be led around by the nose. Customers who think critically would be difficult customers. It’s like trying to extract natural gas from a resistant geological formation. But marketing fracking will yield the better results over time. Consumers who are knowledge workers can help you to create a community for your book.

Come on publishers, stop caring so much if the book is sold and not caring so much if the book is read! Leave that appproach to the book philistines in our business who haven’t read the book. Try this marketing experiment: care more that the book is read than if it is sold.

In a community of literature, all the books will get read. That’s what I mean by the Great Chain of Other People’s Writers. As a book blogger, I’m counting on the books that I can’t take care of being nutured by some other devoted reader.

What books, what writer will you make yourself responsible for? Like the Book People in the Bradbury story and Truffaut film, Fahrenheit 451. Let’s burn up the ignorance and sell lots of books. Publishers, you need to let the knowledge workers through the gates.

3 Responses to “The Petrified Forest of Book Marketing and the Great Chain of Other People's Writers”

  1. April 20, 2012

    Johnny Reply

     . . . tell it on the mountain, JC!

  2. April 20, 2012

    DH Reply

    Thanks JE!  But to correct the typo with a comment…I wrote that post. I was pleased the way the posting turned out until I realized it was attributed to someone else. It’s funny, only when I noticed your comment did I realize the byline was wrong…sigh. Not my day, I guess.

  3. April 20, 2012

    Jason Chambers Reply

    oops, Sorry DH. Due credit given. 

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