Part of any author's life is the "joy" of shouldering the hobo-stick, pulling on the walking shoes... and hitting the highway (literally, or on the Internet's Information Highway) to MARKET the flippin' thing.
That is a "given" for all scribes, whether publisher-published or indie/self-pubb'd variety, if only because nobody will market the everlovin' hell out of your books like YOU will.
It can be akin to an interminable, horrific bed-and-breakfast Sentence In Writer-Hell... or one can just suck it up, shake off any reluctance, and use it for a bit o' mischief & wry giggles.
I chose the latter, though I'm not sure my New York-based publisher...uh... fully supports the creative direction I took.
My new book—FALLOUT, number three in my Beck Casey Thriller Series— is indeed a thriller.
For my pre-pub marketing, I went with... humor.
There's (some, I'd admit) method to my madness. The Prime Axiom Of Book-Marketin' reads thusly: "Nobody buys a book of which they've not heard." The Number One Fact of today's publishing biz is: "There is a freakin' tsunami of new books released each month, traditional or self-published."
And the Essential Problem Of Book-Producing Authors is: "How do you make your title stand out in this veritable flood of other titles competing for attention??!?"
FALLOUT was scheduled for official release early in April. But even weeks before the official release, I began a campaign of videos and graphics posted on social media and Internet websites that were intended to make book-buyers laugh... and to remember FALLOUT's title long after the chuckling stopped.
There's a quote from Oscar Wilde that says 'If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you.' My novels center around terrorism, espionage, political intrigue. There's not a heck of a lot that's intrinsically funny about the topics themselves—but willy-nilly (or at minimum, in my nilly), that's no reason why you can't make a title stand out among the crowd through humor.
Hence began a pre-pub social-media campaign... featuring such luminaries as the Mona Lisa, Pope Francis, Salvador Dali, Mr. & Mrs. George Clooney, and others (for ecumenical equality, a thesis-blurb "nailing" Martin Luther was included)—all prominently praising, endorsing, carrying (and even, in some religiously prepared images) blessing FALLOUT... its cover prominent in the arms and hands of those featured.
(A short video of some of these is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bJAC6P1fMI&feature=youtu.be)
Late this past week, a Media Release kicked off in a mass e-mailing pitching not the book itself, but the oddity of the marketing campaign, as a hook.
I'll quote from it here (below)... and let you all know later how this overall approach worked. Meanwhile, check out my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/earl.merkel ) and my Author's Website ( www.earlmerkel.com ) for an ongoing look at the still-ongoing social media ads and other continuation of this arguably maniac campaign.
From the Media Release:
...The promotional materials are broadly humorous enough for a non-writer audience—but Merkel admits he often tucks in "inside jokes" to others who also write books— or desire to do so.
"Authors and new writers knock themselves out trying to get celebrities to provide a complimentary cover-blurb," Merkel says. "It's almost an obsession with us, it's hard as hades to do, and we get wildly jealous when other writers score one."
He laughs. "So several of my promotions for FALLOUT were 'endorsement-blurbs,'" he says. "From Pope Francis, from Martin Luther, and even from Barack Obama and George Bush—those latter two, obviously uncomfortable at being in the same photo. There's also a vaguely threatening letter—'signed' by President Obama—responding to the alleged 'endorsement' of FALLOUT. A threat-letter blurb from the President? In reality, that would be an author's dream!"
As a journalist and talk-radio broadcaster, however, Merkel believes that presenting both sides of an issue is essential. In addition to the "praise" FALLOUT has "received," he felt strongly that naysayers also be portrayed.
"So there was a graphic that showed ISIS terrorists mass-burning copies of FALLOUT," he admits. "But I added a line of very large type that begged readers not to let the terrorists win, and urged them to buy a copy today."
Reaction to the marketing materials has been what Merkel terms "gratifying."
"They've been Tweeted and re-Tweeted, 'shared' on Facebook, pinned on Pinterest," he noted. "But I'm afraid I'll have to design something exceptionally outrageous to achieve the coveted goal of going 'viral.' Not even an 'endorsement' from a near-nude Kim Kardashian accomplished that. Yet."
Merkel credits "the easy availability of potentially lethal Photoshop software" and what he terms "long on-the-job abuse by various City Editors and broadcast producers" for the particular flavor of humor in the materials.
"The first gives you the desktop tools," he says, "the second gives you the off-kilter motivation."
Does the author still feel this campaign will work?
"This is one of those news-feature stories you read where it ends with the phrase 'only time will tell,'" Merkel says, and grins hugely. "I've written a lot of that kind of story myself. And I always add the phrase, 'but for right now, it looks pretty good.'"
° ° °
Bio information for Earl is online at: http://www.earlmerkel.com/EM%20about%20the%20author%20webpage.html
Earl's website is at: www.earlmerkel.com
A video link to his "Anatomy Of A Marketing Campaign - FALLOUT" is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bJAC6P1fMI&feature=youtu.be
Video trailers for each book in the Beck Casey Thriller Series are at:
FINAL EPIDEMIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB5wr3f_fRU&feature=youtu.be
FIRE OF THE PROPHET: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mQSquiOzE0&feature=youtu.be