selling sort of

the part about me (this is a blog after all):
I've spent years trying to be honest and disdaining bullshit about myself. Other people, if they have a myth built up about themselves, that's their business and I'll support them. As long as their tales aren't destructive to others, I figure they are the kind of people who'll make life more interesting-whether their lies are successful or not. More power to them, actually, if they can build and live up to an image that is a little better and cleaner than most actual humans can manage. Or if they're not very good at it or just tell random lies, too--I don't resent them. Their not-so-great lies make them more interesting characters, and make their personalities a little muddy, which is always a good thing in my world. Another reason I don't condemn or point fingers, there's the matter of glass houses.

I was a liar for years and years and I wasn't particularly good at it because I didn't buy into my own lies and because early on, my mom, whom I respected to nth degree, called me on it ("we all know your teacher didn't really get married, dear") and said it was a bad idea. She did such a good job, by my late teens I got physical symptoms when I'd lie about myself. Exaggerate? Hell, yes. Every day in every way. But that's different.


the more interesting bit about an odd promo campaign:

I occasionally see instances where maybe a good lie would work. Or maybe I just mean staying silent is the best plan.

I'm talking about career, of course. Sometimes getting the truth out on the table is not such a good plan if selling books is your goal. Here's what promo people say and I'm beginning to believe: you want to let people think that everyone loves your books. You want to look successful because success sells itself. I don't mean all those people on twitter who say "I make 2000000 a day! You can too!" They're obnoxious. I mean just wearing success quietly, whether or not it's real.

I tend not to think in these terms, obviously.** But if I owned a marketing hat and I managed to put it on, I would think that using a lack of a new contract would be something to keep quiet, not make part of a marketing campaign. I could be wrong about it. I know from twitter that some people are buying her books out of pity. I know that editors and agents don't care about a writer's hopes and dreams so it's not a way to sell to them. But the direct public? Maybe they're more interested.As long as they actually get the books, then what's the problem? Why should I care?

I don't much. Or rather I don't feel indignant and I'm not rolling my eyes. I wish Marvelle luck. BTDT as have most of the writers I know, actually.

I'm just not sure I'd use a lack of contract as a way to push books into people's hands.

The real reason it gives me pause: You risk sort of badmouthing a publisher or making yourself look pathetic which isn't really an image you want to promote, unless you're Philip Roth or someone whose books fit that "I iz loser" mold. I don't think branding is as real as the experts do, but I must believe it to a degree because I'm thinking. Hmm. This is branding in a bad way.

I can see doing this campaign playfully, because that might be sort of funny line to that guy who did the "even my grandmother hates my book" video. Where's the link to that damn video? I loved that thing

The giving away fifty dollars? That's a standard sort of promo lure. Interesting combo of the usual and unusual promo procedure. I hope she lets us know how it goes.

** this is very useful. I can say to myself "that book didn't hit the bestseller list because I stink at the promo" and not blame the actual book. Which means I can keep on writing
. Otherwise I'd just wilt.


  1. Shhh... it kinda creeps me out too. It's that pity/diss the pub thing that bothers me. Cut losses. Move on.

  2. I feel bad for DM, but I have the feeling it is going to backfire on her. It really does suck what has happened, but there is a whole big world out there where her work will be much better appreciated. I am with Carrie on this one, cut the losses and move on.

  3. I can't imagine this plan working.

    It's like all those TV series--think My So Called Life. I loved it. Thought it was brilliant.

    There was a big fan outcry that could not bring it back. Over the years though, there have been a few series that did make it back after fan outcry. Can this author somehow recreate that magic?

    Doubtful. Can she keep the rights to the series characters so that she can continue the series in eBook form and be really successful? Maybe.

    Would I use this technique?

    Never say never. But I'm not picturing it happening.

  4. The part that kind of skeeves me out about this is that I remember when this whole thing started, and I thought, "Oh, that sucks, I should buy that book." But now I see blog letters containing passages and remarks that could have been there but that I don't really remember from the outset. Stuff where she seems to be blaming the publisher for not supporting her, or talking about how her promo expenses were far greater than her advance.

    It's not that I don't think those things are potentially (or even probably) true, it's just... OMG, if I were an editor for another house or an agent, I would steer so clear. And that makes me sad, because I think the concept isn't so terribly bad--drum up sales and maybe her editor will change his mind and pick up that third book after all. But now? I can't imagine him being anything but LIVID reading these posts.

  5. carrie and katie it would be weird if it DID work. And a very strange precedent. It's a begging thing sort of a 3rd world country thing. We'd could take a turn as professional beggars with our books in front of us, passionately arguing for them. Oh. Wait, that is what we do already.

    TB, the huge huge difference is that it's FANS who go all out for those shows, right? Damn, wouldn't that be a dream? if a bunch of fans rose up and demanded more books?

    I don't know, Donna, I'd think if the method worked and she suddenly sold a gazillion books, all would be forgiven. I've seen some HORRIBLE, WAY WORSE BEHAVIOR than this rewarded when it worked. Keeping an eye on the bottom line is the most important part of professionalism.

  6. Anonymous10:46 PM

    "Third-world country type thing"? How offensive. I notice that three of the responders are people who had published first with Kensington and weren't given another contract. Weren't you angry and fierce enough about your career to want something done? This is a subjective and sometimes unfair business, but all of this comes across as thinly-veiled passive-aggressive behavior masked as superiority. So what if Delilah Marvelle has taken up her cudgel for her career? If you think she's pathetic, so what? She made a decision to do something and that's it. Seems to be the whole "backfire" (aka "blacklisted") fearmongering is only voiced from people who are trying to make it. I've never heard established authors worry so much about the actions of other authors and "fear" backlash or being blacklisted.

  7. hiya anon I don't think anyone wishes her badly. And I don't think anyone thinks it's fair she got dropped. Absolutely we all wish we had bestsellers too--we all want to fight for our career. But the fair thing doesn't apply. You said so yourself. It's a matter of what sort of image she projects.

    And it's pretty clear that for a lot of us who've watched the business (and maybe not for the general public which is what really matters since she's going directly to them.) this feels like something that might backfire.

    I read the remarks again and I don't see condemnation of her at all. Just that decision--and it's hardly condemnation. Just our opinions and perception of the campaign. That's not really about Delilah or her books.

  8. btw, this isn't the first begging campaign I've seen. I don't know if the others worked, because frankly, I can't recall the authors' names. At least five times I've seen cries of "buy my book or my career is over/can't pay the rent" sort of notes

    This is the first coordinated as a kind of publicity (the gift certificate added on) one I've seen.


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