Sex toys and iPods

Well, if this title doesn’t up my blog stats and clog my spam filter, I don’t know what will.

I’m sorry to disappoint those of you visiting my site for the first time because of its title, but this post is actually about how authors merchandise and sell their books.

No, really.

Bye. Thanks for dropping by, and come back again, y’all… In my next post, I’m gonna write about punctuation faux pas and it should be pretty – uh – revealing as well.


Okay: I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on How Authors Move Their Own Merchandise. In it, writers shared some stories about what they’ve done to get noticed and ultimately to sell their books.

The article should definitely give pause to any writers hoping that going with a traditional publisher means the publisher will do the marketing for them. That just ain’t the case. However you publish your book – indie or big-box publisher – you need to be prepared to do some heavy lifting in the marketing arena in addition to the typical social networking blitz.

According to Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, 1,500 books are published every day in the U.S., including traditionally and independently published titles. She’s quoted in the WSJ article: “To get noticed, you have to throw more at people than just your book.” She’s in the book marketing business so of course she’ll say that, but still…

Which is where the sex toys come in. Lynn Schnurnberger chose Babeland, “a sort of FOA Schwarz for adults,” for her publication party for The Best Laid Plans since one scene in the novel takes place there. Got her and her book noticed.

My WIP is tentatively called Tap Dancing at the County Fair and the thought of locational publication parties terrifies me, frankly.

Give-aways like key chains and drawings for iPods or e-readers are popular to draw attention to a book. You’ll see one of those give-away drawings on this very blog in a couple of weeks.

Putting together a cabaret show based on your book? Another marketing scheme that a couple of writers have done. (You will NOT see that here.)

And, of course, buy-one-get-one-free: tucking in a copy of someone else’s novel with your own book. That’s what Ayelet Waldman did to boost sales of her Bad Mother in 2009: She included a free copy of a novel by her husband.

Uh, Waldman’s husband is Michael Chabon.

The Michael Chabon.

Ya think that helped Bad Mother make it to the New York Times best-seller list?

Still, even if you didn’t marry a Pulitzer-Prize-for-literature winner, the WSJ article has some worthwhile hints, though it can be a tad depressing to realize that putting on your thigh high latex boots to market yourself and your book is a must-do.

This brings me to a different literary couple: John Yunker and Midge Raymond. I’d never heard of either of them until yesterday, when, thanks to R.J. Keller’s Facebook share, I came to Love in the Time of Amazon: A Book Trailer about Sales Rank.

Read the blurb, and watch their trailer – funny and probably painfully true. And then, of course, buy their books.

Oh – about the boots. They’re available online for $369.60. You know what to Google to find them.

Me, I’m sticking with the tap shoes for now, but you never know…

17 comments to Sex toys and iPods

  • DS

    Seems like I could make a good deal more money wearing those boots and standing on a street corner than I could marketing a dystopian novel. At 1500 books a day you would think that anyway. Just sayin’…

  • I could not wear those boots without falling over.

    I’m with you on the horrifying thought of publication parties. If I wanted to be noticed, I would have become an actor.

  • I read that article too. Yeah, I’m not doing any of that. And please, your husband is Michael Chabon and you act like you’re a starving writer?! Come see my budget.

    That trailer was so funny. I’ve determined I won’t be obsessed with my Amazon ranking. I didn’t even notice books HAD rankings until recently, so why care now? Right.

    And you’ll regret the title of this post.;-)

  • Sam Law

    Good article, but you never mentioned how you got your boots on.
    … and who was your photographer?

  • I think I better give up on writing and dreams of being published and buy a pair of those boots instead. I’d probably enjoy myself more. Do ya think?

  • Thanks for a great laugh along with something to think about! Knowing the marketing effort was all on me was a big part of what led me to the decision to become an indie author.

    Although being married to Michael Chabon clearly helped Bad Mother, that’s a bit sad to me because she’ll never know whether she might have found an audience on her own. It probably falls slightly into the “no such thing as bad PR” category, and the book has to be good to keep readers coming back, but still …

  • I’d kill myself in those boots. Laying down or standing. heh heh heh
    I hope you share you weekly stats with us. This title has to draw a crowd.
    I guess is helps to have an angle when it comes to marketing. I’m just not creative enough to market like that. I have no clue what I’ll do when/if the time comes…

    • Natasha

      …you can borrow my boots if you want. Surprisingly (so far at least) my site stats are pretty consistent with the day or two of a post, and spam hasn’t gone haywire either.


  • I’d be excited to “dress up” if I had something to market! The article is certainly reflecting the sign of the times. I haven’t thought much about marketing yet. Probably by the time I get something accepted, I’ll be too old to figure out how to get those boots on, let alone walk in them.

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