Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The next big thing?

I’m sure you’ve all seen this latest promotional device. Barbara did it last week for her post, and I was supposed to do it, too. I thought I would try for this week, but now I can’t find five other authors who aren’t already taking part.

The idea sounded really good when Vicki Delany told me about it. I mean who wouldn’t like a little free promotion? I also liked the pyramidal set-up. It would be really good to get the word out. Problem is, every writer and aspiring writer in the known and unknown universe has gotten involved and now any benefits have been so watered down with a huge volume of information out there that (if I’m any example) people just don’t want to wade through. When some bright person comes up with a great promo idea (like this one) and runs with it, the payback can be huge.

For instance, a few years ago a promo was run on New York Subway trains. A group of people (there must have been a lot of them to do this) who were to ride at high-volume traffic periods of the day who were all reading a specific book. Obviously, the press was alerted and it received a lot of coverage. I’m sure within a matter of days, it was tried several times and is probably still being tried – with declining effectiveness.

Promotion and advertising is all about creating the next big wave if you want the most effect. Catching the wave as it goes by is not going to be as effective, and if you’re trying to paddle after the wave in an effort to catch up, you’re no doubt wasting your time, effort and money.

Sadly, I feel that’s what’s happening with this “next big thing” idea. It’s gotten too big and the result is that it’s watered down. At least that’s my theory. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because I couldn’t find anyone who wasn’t already taking part.

Like all good ideas, it seems to have gone astray because of overuse. So tell me, Barbara and all those others who have taken part, do you think this promotion did any good or had any appreciable effect? Have you noticed any effect like increased sales for your existing books, increased website traffic, increased blog visits?

10 comments:

Vicki Delany said...

All I can say is that I had more than the usual hits to my blog page when I did it.

Vicki Delany said...

Only two of the five people I tagged did it back. One excused herself.

Barbara Fradkin said...

I am not sure whether it did any good or not, because I don't track sales much. But I often think I am blogging into the wilderness anyway, so not much difference there. At least it gave me a blog topic.

j welling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
j welling said...

Rick, I'm the perfect jaded consumer. I've the means to buy at will but the desire only to buy those things that are fun and increase my happiness or self-esteem.

I'm also saturated with pleas. Oh, that brand of beer will interest the leggy girl I'm fairly sure I wouldn't want to hear speak ? Thanks, no. Ohhh - the electric shaver that will cut like a blade in half the time ? Sounds like a pair of angry hornets next to my hung-over brain, too ? Thanks, no.

You get the idea. I'm a consumer and everyone lies to me. Equivocates ? Distorts ? No - lies.

Now, the author pushing their own book ? I believe they're trying to tell me that I'll like the text. I believe they're trying to show me I can escape in their words. I suspicious on habit now and my initial reaction is "no."

I'm not a fan of crowd sourcing decisions, either. I'd like to hear from a credible appraiser that the work will be lovely given my tastes.

You telling me Vicki's book has some of the greatest brain-injury hampered reasoning scenes by a character I'll ever read ... now I'm interested. You don't have an agenda. [ Sorry Vicki - loved _More Than Sorrow_ though. Favorite line : "She looked at me with eyes as large as Black Beauty's." I love when Tolstoy compares Anna's nostril's to Frou Frou's. You hooked me there. ] I'd trust your opinion of someone else's work.

Your own ? You're shilling for yourself, in a phrase. Just like everyone else.

Vicki Delany said...

The problem mid-list authors face J Welling (and I'm pleased you liked MTS) is that as they don't have a big publisher advertising on the subways or getting on TV interviews or invitations to big literary festivals, how else are these authors going to get the word out? If an author today doesn't talk up their own book, they'll sink without a trace and never get another contract again. Believe me most (not all!) authors I know just HATE doing this sort of self-promotion. It is, in short, humiliating.

Rick Blechta said...

Vicki is right: humiliating, but sadly necessary.

j welling said...

I love you guys because you're so forthright about the industry. That's just wonderful, frankly.

I enjoy finding authors in bookstores - with the empty line - so I can ask about their book.

The online promotion simply has the air of the carney shill in front of the nine-legged cat (or whatever). Maybe I'm just an overly sensitive consumer.

You do give me a couple of ideas, though. I'm a mid-list and dead guy buyer. I dig about for reads (thus, Aunt Agatha's for example). I ask the eclectic readers I know what they've found lately. Making that sort of knowledge available to the consumer for a big payoff... interesting. Of course, it's marketing: Two Drink Minimum.

Might have to find a bartender.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Oh boy,Rick. You've confirmed what I was beginning to suspect. I've been like mega-struggling with finding other authors. I don't mind doing the NBT bit, but I'm having an insane time finding other people.

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