aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Promoting the heck out of yourself

Some authors really know how to self-promote. And if they are lucky their publishers back them up. Take local boy Chuck Palahniuk. He was just at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. For most attendees the highlight of the show was a luncheon with Chuck. Ten years after winning his first award from PNBA for Fight Club, Chuck showed up wearing a cut-away tuxedo jacket festooned with bright pins, which he invited the 180 booksellers in attendance to claim after his talk. So, for the next two days booksellers walked the aisles of PNBA wearing their "Chuck pins."

I've also seen Chuck give away flashing novelty lights that you wore around your wrist – pretty soon everyone in attendance at a huge multi-author book signing was wearing one. And Random House offered free stickers for Haunted to any fan who supplied their home address. "Help promote the release of the book by spreading them around to as many places and people as possible." They call it the cult of Chuck, and it really is a cult when you can get other people to do your marketing for you. [Full disclosure: Of course, Chuck can also mess with people's minds. Like the interview he gave some poor reporter (possibly an ever more pitiable freelancer) for the Portland Tribune, owned by a very conservative businessman. In the interview, Chuck spilled the top-secret beans about his "wife," when he actually has lived for many years with a guy.]

Warner Books is holding a very cool contest to promote David Baldacci ’s new murder mystery, The Collectors, which finds a corpse turning up in the Library of Congress’s (LC) rare books room. The publisher will select two grand prize winners to receive a personal tour of the facility by the mystery author and LC’s in-house historian, John Cole. The tour will include the Rare Books and Special Collection Division, Conservation, the refurbished Jefferson Building, the office of the First Librarian of Congress, which now serves as a private foreign dignitaries’ office, and several exhibition halls. Baldacci also will take the winners to lunch at the DC hotspot, The Monocle.

My promotions have been more limited. I send signed postcards for a new book to anyone who shows up at a signing or registers at my Web site. I have occasionally tossed favors (plastic diamond rings) at people who asked questions at a signing. And for mall signings, which are the seventh circle of hell, I have brought small wrapped chocolates. My friend Meg Chittendon was once sitting at a mall with a bowl of chocolates when an old woman approached and asked if the candy was free. When Meg said yes, the woman opened her purse and poured in all the candy and walked away.

Or you could be like Anne Tyler, whose birthday is today. She gave a few interviews in her early career, but after that she decided she didn't want to be a public person. She never goes on book tours or speaks on talk shows, and if she answers any questions from journalists, she only does so in writing.

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