Book Marketing and the strange case of Ishiguro’s balloons

bookstore windowThere is cause for celebration at my local bookstore.  For the first time in a decade, Kazuo Ishiguro has released a new book.

From the blurb it seems to offer a mythical tale full of wonder and giants.  The cover is beautiful – a deep matt navy, rich as a midnight sky with a sacred tree winding its way from the rich soil of a perfectly fonted title.  The Buried Giant, it announces. By Kazuo Ishiguro – in gold lettering.  Gold lettering.  This is an important book, it calls to us.  It is simple but magical.  It will change you, shake the roots of your very existence.  It is a book to be talked about.

Imagine my surprise then when I entered the store and saw this:

ishiguros balloonsNot only are they balloons.  They are special Ishiguro balloons.  Regard how they match the colour of the cover.  Behold how they are emblazoned with the same minimal illustration.  Which is both marvelous and fabulous, whilst at the same time, deeply disturbing.

Is this what book marketing has come to?  Gone are the days when it was a discrete bookmark, or a tasteful postcard (though these were placed at BOTH counters!).  Now, to sell books, really good books, apparently we must also have balloons.

I am troubled by this.  Quite deeply.  Not only because I loathe balloons with all their squeaky- rubbery-tight-skinned-spitefulness, but also because I am not sure where the publishing world can go after this.

Is this what it has come to for those Luddites of the literary world – those authors who like me, want to write that most unsellable of things –  the epitome of genreless – literary fiction?  Must Indie publishers hoping to get their literary works noticed now offer such things to entice readers away from the safety of Paranormal-urban-fantasy-thrilleromance Genre Fiction?

If so, then here are my suggestions for

5 Inappropriate Marketing Ideas for Literary Fiction

1. Lollipops ; especially if you are selling something that is dangerously racy or perhaps touches on the subjects of child abuse, family trauma, or pedophilia.  Got to find a way to sweeten those topics for the punters, folks.

2. Beer Can holders:  You know those things made of strange, unnatural fabric that keep cans cold.  I thought that any novel that touched upon alcoholism – perfect.  Alternatively if your novel is set in a hot climate – this is good to go for you.

3. Big Hands:  Like they wave at games and other such sporting events.  If you got a jaunty little logo, people who buy the book could be given “a big hand” get it.  I mean it’s hilarious, right.  Challenging for page turning however.

4: Steak Knives:  I mean who doesn’t need more steak knives?  These babies have been the solid stuff of marketing strategies for years.  Why, I ask you, has it taken publishing so long to catch up?  So, ‘buy this novel and get a free set of steak knives’.  It’s just got a ring to it….

5: Sun Visors:  I am sure that most literary fiction readers are possibly low in their quota of free sun visors.  I might be wrong, but what better than the new Amis novel having a Go Amis Go baseball cap, or  The Liz Gilbert Visor.  It makes sense.  Literary Fiction readers don’t go out in the sun very often after all.  We need to protect our paper-like pale complexions.  Plus, how jaunty would that be?

I mean these are just some initial suggestions that I am throwing out there.  I am sure you have some of your own, so be a sport and pop them in the comments.  If we get enough of them we can bundle them up into an eBook called “Crazy Marketing Ideas for Indie Authors ”  or , if we want to go a little Seth Godin/ Malcolm Gladwell, my title vote goes with “Ishiguro’s Balloons”, just for its outstanding SEO potential alone.

Oh, and word count for the day? 

Another 3000.  Thanks for asking.

See you tomorrow, now back to your writing, You!  Yes – You!!!


Dear Abandoned Author Platform….

starting out

Dear Abandoned Author Platform,

I know that you might be surprised to be hearing from me after so long.  I imagine it took a while to get over the rude way that I just walked away.  I made you so many promises and for a while we were getting on really well, weren’t we?  And then… I walked away from you.

And you hadn’t really done anything wrong.  I see that now.  It wasn’t you.  It was me.  I just felt as if it was going nowhere and that it was all going to be too much like hard work.

I am a bit lazy you see.  I want things easy.  I want to be able to lock myself away and for somebody else to make all the effort.  I was hoping that you would go out and do that work for me.  I was wrong.  I see that now.  I see that you did nothing but offer me potential.  You willingly let me do whatever I liked and was happy to tell everyone with a sense of pride what I was up to.  You were such a supportive little thing.

I overlooked you – not because of anything that you did.  I overlooked you and I abandoned you because things didn’t go quite to plan I’m afraid.  All those big dreams that I had for us….  I am sorry to say that I hit the first bump in the road and I bottled it.  I was such a dreamer – a bit naive I suppose – I thought it was all going to be so great.  I was wrong.

But lately, you have been on my mind a bit.  I was wondering how you were doing, how you were coping without me.  And I thought that maybe it was time that we got to know each other again.

I am a bit older now.  I hesitate to say, a bit wiser.  I can see now that I was expecting too much from this relationship.  I am ready to put in the time now.  I want to give it another go.  What do you say?  Do you think we could pick up where we left off, or would you like to set out some ground rules?  I will understand if you want a bit more commitment.  I can do that now.  Life has been tough over the last couple of years.  I have learnt so much and I think that makes me better able to do this thing now.  I kind of feel ready for it, if you know what I mean.

Look I completely understand if you want to send me packing.  I kind of think I would in your position.  But I do promise you this – I value you more now than I did before.  I can see how great you are and I want to get to know you on your terms.  I figure that this is my chance to make amends and restore a bit of karma.  I have some lovely ideas for things we could do together.

And I am here.  I am willing to do the work this time.  I know it won’t be easy but I want to make this work.

Say you will give me another chance….

Yours, hopefully, and with love,

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PS.  How about I  pop back in a few days for your answer? I thought that we could make it a kind of regular thing this time.  I have so much I want to discuss with you.  See you soon??? Please….