Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moving the Merchandise

In America, it is sport that is the opiate of the masses. (Russell Baker) Ray and I hosted a sports theme party, and in decorating, I realized how much sports paraphenalia we own. It is brilliant merchandising, and I'm thinking authors need to apply the sport model to book marketing.

There is no business like show business - except sports business. (William J. Baker) In a recent WSJ article, it was noted that writers are using iPads and sex toys to bump up sales and generate buzz. Use of social media, contest drawings, and hustle are part of the author's job. "It's no longer a top down media culture," says Paul Bogaards from Knopf Doubleday. Instead skimpy advertising budgets, Borders bankruptcy, scaled back marketing and publicity departments, and more writing competition necessitate extra effort to get noticed.

Back to sports. It's no longer just the game. It's pre, post, and halftime entertainment. Athletes are celebrities, and authors need to do the same to get the spotlight on them.

"Freebies such as bookmarks or key chain logos generate reader goodwill and may provide an author with more Facebook friends, a larger email list, and can goose preorders, which gets attention of publishers." It's truly a juggling act with razzle dazzle.

One author, Christopher McDougall (Born to Run, 2009) throws cases of books in his car and drives to races, running clinics, and athletic retailer conventions. "I found that slapping the shoe leather is what works." Face to face contact, and one sale can spread the word to umpteen others.

Amidst the hoopla, there is one thing to keep in mind. Just like an athlete still must practice and play to remain in the public eye, an author still must write. Promotion is important, but you need the muscle (i.e.words, plot, character) to back it up.

Play ball!

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