How Not to Market Your Book

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

How not to promote your book: make up a faux publicity company (at whose supposedly professional website you are the only listed client), whip up a badly-written press release (don’t bother with grammarcheck), and spam everyone you can think of (including, unfortunately, Writer Beware).

That, apparently, is the strategy behind the email that landed in my Inbox the other day. It’s just so awful I had to share it (it’s exactly as written, though I’ve redacted the author’s name, the title of the book, and the name of the faux publicity company.) Writers: don’t do this.

Great Publication vs Successfully Commercial Stories – What’s the difference?

Some questions have such clear answers that you know your answer the moment you hear or read it. These are of the “Who was the better James Bond: Connery or Dalton?” sort. You might even blink a few times to make sure you read the question correctly.

Any book publication that sells in excess of say 20 to 30 million copies in today’s world must therefore be considered as somewhat “Great” no matter what or who happens with the work next?

Three examples come to mind… We know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings became the gold standard of fantasy novels almost immediately upon its publication in the mid-1950s and it’s hard to know what to say about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books that hasn’t been said a million times already, it being translated into 67 languages or that [author name redacted] [book title redacted] spectacularly illustrated book format has become a cult, all of which had differing physic affect on most of the any age reading public. No doubt, more copy-cat trilogies will be churned out in the future but not, true story telling masterpieces like the three above and for differing reasons, will always lead the way. So, vastly different stories they may all be, but the comparison between imagination, uniqueness, true story telling and reader enthusiasm is yet very valid.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have had phenomenal “Box-Office” commercial success through being converted into film without even using overpriced actors, while [author name redacted] [book title redacted] still has yet to achieve that accolade that sometime no doubtedly it will; once the studio moguls take it on and decide its eventual fate.

The point being made is that all three works were firstly publication successes before ‘commercial barons’ laid siege to mind blowing and sometimes difficult author’s interpretational renderings. The simple conclusion is that ‘true storytellers’ are few and far between but, when the dose of commercial flair is injected to the mix it provides astounding financial results mainly because the proper passage of time and attention to publication detail have been connected to the box-office commerciality of proper work and not just some special effects demand.

“Its ALL about the Story Telling!”

Ask James Cameron about ‘Avatar’ and today he will now readily admit that it was just an astronomically expensive current fad, it will never stand the test of time as have the three publications mentioned above. Yet a well written publication. simple and not very expensive film like “The King’s Speech” took the world by storm in 2011.

So People, with accountants of major studios failing to understand this concept, they will continue going down however, one day they will learn that its not about luck or even the money or names thrown into the film; its about creating a great story as a starting point and then developing that product base.

Should it be of any interest to you, please feel free to contact us directly at:-

[faux publicity company name redacted]


  1. Instructive. I'll admit I was trying to puzzle out the "it" in the last paragraph and whether it should or shouldn't interest me.

    Then I lost interest and chalked the result up to massive hype failure.

  2. I am afraid this is just not the person I would hire to lay siege to my interpretational renderings.

  3. I just hope this "publicist" doesn't try selling his or her services to other hopeful but inexperienced writers.

  4. It seemed clear to me. If you reply to the email with your bank accounbt information they will give you an option on the Nigerian film rights for [redacted].

  5. This "press release" looks like the Wired article collided with, and there were multiple injuries — sides splitting from laughter, heads banged on desks in despair, and eyes crossed in total confusion!

  6. Read all that and all I can ask is

    That Press release made ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AT ALL. Were they selling a book or a movie or just…*Still trying to figure it out.

    A press release is supposed to be clear, concise and under 300-400 words. It's a calling card for a product to the public, and the first impression readers get about a product. A good one gets them interested a bad one turns them off.
    This…is a definite turnoff.

    I've written two for books I was promoting and it definitely didn't look like This. This was pure babble.

    I'm embarassed for this poor author. They just torpedoed any chance of anyone taking them seriously.

  7. I was moved. I need to know that book's title so I can buy it today.

    To think, I might be one of the first people to own an early edition of the book that will rock the world.

  8. Huh? That was incredibly difficult to read! I'm not really sure what the article was trying to say!

  9. Well that was clear, AS MUD!
    If you had not explained what I was about to read I would of thought it to be a badly written school report, sort of half explaining how advertising effects the media??
    Sort of…
    The teacher may have given the student a C, for effort.

  10. I do try to avoid taunting or being sarcastic about other writers' work, but folks who write like that make it difficult to resist.

  11. I got that spam, too, Victoria. Matter of fact, I may have been the one that forwarded it to you.

    It's yet another case of you either laugh, or you cry, at such hopeless cluelessness.

    -Ann C. Crispin
    Chair, Writer Beware

    A.C. Crispin
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom
    Disney Editions
    May 17, 2011

  12. Wow! There's an abuse of medication there, or possibly…extreme lack of sleep causing a vast departure from reality? Then again, maybe you have a friend who is a comedian?

  13. I have no idea what this press release is trying to sell, or to whom, and that's bad. (Seriously, is it the book itself? Can't be, if it's already a success that will undoubtedly become a great film a la Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter…)

  14. I made it as far as "physic effect' before I began to have my own physic-al effects. My teeth began to grind and my head began to ache. Honestly, this reads almost like one of those computer translations of a foreign language…like did the writer even know English?

  15. Amen. An excellent Charmin replacement. I wonder about a LOT of things concerning this press release and its writer.

  16. Acckk! So a plagiarist as well? (Re: The Wired article from 2009)

    There's actually a marked change in writing style I was trying to puzzle out before seeing that part of it was lifted from another source.

    *sigh* I wish MY inbox were so colorful.

  17. If the 'press release' is any sample of the author's skills at writing, organizing and editing, the book would make a great replacement for Charmin.

  18. You might even blink a few times to make sure you read the question correctly.

    This nailed my experience exactly. I read the heading, reread it, and then stared at it in confusion because I had no idea what it was trying to say!

  19. The truly frightening thought is that this "press release" may be an indication of the quality of the manuscript.

  20. WV: mookst – the language this letter was written in.

    Seriously, if I was hungover, at that horrible place where you need to puke to make yourself feel better, but can't quite get there – re-reading this letter might be useful.

    And, you got a blog spot out of it. But I can only imagine how bad the actual book must be.

  21. Let me pick two of the biggest outliers I can find and attempt to ride their coattails.

    At least we can assume that the author has written a fantasy trilogy.

    That was painful.

  22. That is one comically awful press release.

    Like Frances, I'm confused about what this press release is trying to sell. Is it a book? A book that "needs" to be turned into a movie? A publishing house that can turn your hastily-scribbled-novel-that-your-mom-totally-loved into a billion-dollar bestseller and also a movie? If it's that last one, I'm sold! (Kidding.)

  23. I … wait … what?

    I think that about covers everything the email evoked. Like Frances, I have no idea what they were trying to sell in that email.

    I suppose, though, anything is worth a try … Well, almost anything.

  24. Even if this theoretical situation were real, a company would never compare a new book and author to such extremes of popularity as the Tolkien or Rowling books. I can't believe that someone would have the gall to write this about themselves. A bit of modesty is needed when marketing your writing.

  25. Seems like an extreme, and overwrought, instance of the "comparing your book to a best-seller" trap some people fall into while querying.

    This person took it to the next level.

  26. I'm not even quite sure what they are selling. Are they trying to sell the book, or sell it to Hollywood, or what?

    Anyway, many authors of great stories can just kick back and relax because if it gets filmed, the film's relationship to the book may end up being rather remote. (Mind you, sometimes this can help. BBC's Clarissa is way better than the book.)

Leave a Reply

MARCH 18, 2011

Another Book Giveaway: The Garden of the Stone

MARCH 22, 2011

Judge Chin Denies Google Book Settlement