February 27th, 2007

Take the money and run

The Washington Post had an article on writers being paid to write what is basically an advertisement e disguised as story or novel . Here's how the piece it uses as an example begins:

"The Lexus loaner turned out to be a GS Hybrid. To say it was an upgrade from the battered Crown Vic I'd driven with the LAPD would be an understatement. For one, you don't need a key. You keep the remote control thing in your pocket and to start the car you just push a button on the dash. Like on a computer. In fact the car's more like a super-powered laptop on wheels than anything else."

The story is being published in three installments in the Lexus quarterly magazine. It's also available, with interactive features, on the company's Web site.

Writers have always made artistic compromises. This one seems pretty clear cut. After all, the reader is seeing it in the Lexus magazine. There was a YA book a while ago with product placement paid for by Cover Girl, I believe, and that seems a little more iffy, since it wasn't obvious from the outset that they had paid to be there. (Actually, I guess they didn't pay. Running Press signed an unusual marketing deal with P&G's makeup division Cover Girl. Press reports say no money changed hands. Cover Girl makeup was showcased in the book and, in return, the book was promoted on Beinggirl.com, a website directed at adolescent girls. The book included references to Cover Girl Lipslicks, a brand of lipstick, and a specific color of Cover Girl eyeliner.)

Still, being a writer is all about compromises with yourself, with your editor, for your audience. And writers need to live as much as the next person.



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Offering boys exciting non-fiction

The Boston Globe talked with former Houghton Mifflin executives Steven Hill and Peggy Hogan. They have started the Flying Point Press packaging company, which is focusing on narrative nonfiction for boys ages 10 to 15. They began their program by relicensing books from the old Random House Landmark Books line begun in the 50s. They've brought back into print books like Lawrence of Arabia and The Deadly Hunt: The Sinking of the Bismarck and hope to sign originals that will be "the adolescent equivalent of the Krakauer and Junger books."



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