Monday, March 7, 2011

A Novel Use of Lampposts

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does. - Steuart Henderson Britt

Marketing, as many of you know, is not my strength. I use some of the tried and true methods such as book signings, conferences, book fairs and so on. Therefore I’m always impressed when I read about an author who thinks outside the box.

For instance there was Tao Lin who offered a ten percent share of the royalties of his unfinished second novel for $2,000 to six investors. He thought it was an idea which would have people talking and that in itself is promotion. The six investors would also have incentives to talk up the book and promote sales. You can read more here. (By the way, Lin’s book Richard Yates was released in September 2010. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for his investors to make back their investment.)

Then there’s author R. N. Morris who began posting his crime novel, A Gentle Axe, on Twitter in 140 characters or less a few times a day. He hoped to keep old fans happy and pick up new readers while waiting for the release of his next book. You can read more here.

The latest innovative idea involves an anonymous author and his or her unpublished book, Holy Crap. This author is serializing his work by sticking pages on lampposts in the East Village in New York. Each page has directions to the next section of the book. According to the article in the, “No author has come forward to take credit for the story, but it is the talk of the area.” You can read the entire article as well as bits from the novel here.

Though this is an interesting concept, I don’t think it's something that would work in Fort Myers. Our downtown area is small and there 's probably some ordinance against posting anything on lampposts.

Would you be willing to read a novel posted in short bursts on lampposts? Would you be more likely to buy a book from one of these creative marketers simply for their originality? Have you heard about or tried other innovative marketing methods?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: Steuart Henderson Britt, Tao Lin, R. N. Morris, innovative marketing,


Old Kitty said...

Ellie Garrett's blog just this second!! posted about a book filled with blank pages reaching 87th in the amazon charts. Amazing!!!!!

I think if you are daring and innovative enough to do these marketing ploys to get publicity then good luck to you!!! I guess it also depends on how long-term a strategy this type of smash and grab headlining is too! I think such ploys mean you will have to keep thinking of other more daring exploits to top the last one to keep your name and work in the public eye!!

Personally, I'm more likely to buy a book if I read a review of it in the papers or if a friend recommends it to me or if I visit a bookshop and like the cover and blurb or if I know the author! I like things done quietly! LOL! Take care

The Old Silly said...

Interesting idea. I don't think I'd read a novel in short bits, but I bet there is a marketing plus there - people who WOULD read it.

As usual, your quote at the top is SO very apt!

Carol Kilgore said...

Dickens' novels were serialized in magazines way back when. I read someplace about somebody doing a novel on Twitter. Good marketing needs to be followed up with a good product to be really effective. In my view.

Joanne said...

I wouldn't read a book in pieces on a lamppost. I understand promotion is necessary, but if it's too gimmicky, it tends to turn me away.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Some creative ideas, although none I'd want to try.

Hart Johnson said...

I think all these are fun concepts, but I know as a reader, I don't have the stamina or patience to wait that long to tell if something is any good. I wouldn't waste the energy tracking down the 'next' even while I sort of loved the concept. I DO love things like the Blog Splash Talli did, and I think it really paid off for her. There was also someone, though I am forgetting who, raffled off something sort of big (I forget what) and the price of 'entry' was to send him a photo of his book someplace unusual. (so his book was getting around)

Linda Leszczuk said...

I appreciate the originality but I'm too impatient. I don't even like to watch two-part episodes on TV. Once I start on a story I want to be able to go all the way to the end on my timetable, not the author's.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Traveling from lamppost to lamppost reading doesn't sound like fun. And what happens when someone steals a page?

Golden Eagle said...

I would read a novel written on lampposts, although I'd probably get tired after a while . . .

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Old Kitty, a book with blank pages reaches the top of Amazon charts – go figure. The author must have a good marketing plan.

The Old Silly, if I lived in the area, I might be intrigued enough to try reading the chapters on lampposts, but they’d have to be good to keep me interested. I liked the quote, too.

Carol, you made a good point about following up good marketing with a good product, but I don’t think it’s always the case.

Joanne, I admire these folks that come up with such unusual ideas and have the confidence to post their work in such unusual ways, but I can see why it could be such a turnoff, too.

Karen, I like outside the box thinkers, too. I guess it’s because I’m such an inside the box type person.

Diane, I think these are one of a kind ideas that might work for the first people to come up with the ideas, but wouldn’t work for everyone.

Hart, those are some good ideas that are not the norm, but still a little more practical and fun.

Linda, that’s a good point – some books I simply don’t want to put down.

Alex, I haven’t thought about someone stealing a page. That would certainly spoil the fun.

The Golden Eagle, hopefully he or she posts frequently to keep people interested.

Daisy Hickman said...

Ah, Jane, the dreaded "M" word -- marketing. Authors should refuse to be published by publishers who won't invest heavily in marketing. I think that's why Borders is failing and others -- too many books that no one has the time or money to promote. If publishers only published what they would put their marketing dollars behind, this glut on the book market might not have happened. As things stand, the industry is so heavily commercialized ... lampposts may say it all!

Helen Ginger said...

Clearly, authors are thinking outside the box. I don't know that I'd follow a book posted on lampposts. It'd be my luck I'd get into the book then discover someone taking the sticky notes. On the other hand, different sells.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

love the quote.
Marketing is always difficult -- especially coming up with rresh ideas for marketing. In regards to the snippets (via lamp posts and twitter) it's not abot reading the novel, it's about the talk it generates.

Carla said...

I totally wondered about the page stealing! It would be fun to find out how many people actually did travel around lampposts to get the story. At the least, it makes me curious!


Arlee Bird said...

I would not take the time to read pages posted on lampposts. This reminds me of a guy who was posting about what sounded like a very bad scifi novel on a writer's discussion forum I was following a few years ago. For his promotional approach he bought a season ticket to Disneyland and would go there regularly with a bunch of flyers advertising his novel tacking them up around the park. Knowing Disneyland the flyers probably came down almost immediately and if he had gotten caught he probably would have been expelled from the park. He seemed to think his idea was ingenius. I wonder if he ever sold any of his books?

Tossing It Out

The Old Silly said...

What a bizarre and wild - "out of the box" idea!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world