Sunday, October 28, 2012
Marketing Tip #201: Gossip is King
Reviewed by OFW editor: Veronica Sicoe
Published: February 11, 2012

 
What’s the best way to get your name on everyone’s mind? Piss someone off. Their trash talk is a great marketing tool.
 
Wait, I should explain the proper technique first. It’s not as simple as bitch-slapping Joe Idiot who spends every morning putting thumb marks in the tomatoes at the grocery store. Oh no, if you’re an author looking for instant publicity, you’ve gotta target another author. At the very least, target someone in the industry.  It’s best if you choose one that’s at least moderately popular.
 
Between Twitter and other Internet gossip mills, one inflammatory statement could push your marketing plan ahead by years, even if you didn’t actually start anything. And it could also get you millions of death threats or flaming piles of pooh on your doorstep. But think of the millions (or at least thousands…maybe hundreds) of people who will know your name.
 
No? Okay, so maybe you won’t start a feud. I understand the reluctance. Things get misconstrued, people lie and make shit up to blow it out of proportion, and you’ve really got no control over it once those words are out.
 
But consider that you may not be the one calling the shots anyway.
 
The Intentional Feud
 
In the late eighties, Le Carre criticized Salman Rushdie’s decision to publish his novel, “Satanic Verses.” He said something about Rushdie knowing exactly what he was doing, otherwise why not just pull the book from the shelves and release it in less controversial times. I think Mr. Le Carre knew what he was doing too. This naturally pissed Rushdie off. Of course, Rushdie might have been more sensitive than most at the time considering the Fatwa hanging over his head because of the book. I’d say he showed remarkable restraint by waiting until several years to toss a barb at Le Carre in return for his criticism. When Le Carre was accused of anti-semitism in 1997, Rushdie wrote to the UK daily newspaper, the Guardian, to express his thoughts on the matter, essentially saying he had no sympathy for Le Carre. Well, not to be insulted without comment, Le Carre replied in the following day’s edition by basically calling Rushdie a liar. And of course, that couldn’t be the end of it. Rushdie called Le Carre a pompous ass.
 
The resulting shit storm had everyone talking about both authors. Fans of both authors bought the opponent’s books just so they could trash it. Sometimes they trashed it without even reading. Jeeze, doesn’t that sound familiar? Anyway, the publicity and sales that resulted from this intentional fear benefited both Le Carre and Rushdie.
 
While these two played their battle out in public, making it very clear they loathed each other, sometimes feuds start rather innocently. Or, more accurately, sometimes a feud is perceived where there isn’t one at all. What if you answer a question with an honest answer? Doesn’t everyone say they want honesty?
 
Take Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer. Remember this feud? You’re nodding. Good. Those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about should get out from under your rock and Google it.
 
What’s most interesting about this little battle is that it never existed. Yes, King did say Meyer couldn’t write worth a damn in a 2009 USA Today interview. However, what millions Twihards ignored when they all lost their fucking minds on King, was that he went on to explain in the same interview, that there are many bestselling authors who can’t write, but they can tell a story like nobody’s business. His point was that there are writers and there are storytellers. Writers focus on the craft, while storytellers just tell the story. Neither is good or bad in King’s opinion (in that interview anyway). It all depends on the preference of the reader. I still hold that she sucks, but King? He’s able to be more philosophical about the whole “crap as bestseller” nonsense.
 
I suppose it doesn’t matter what you do. If you’re honest, the potential to piss someone off with your words is there even if that’s not your intention. Should you lie? Heck no, but if you see the opportunity, try to piss off the most influential people you can. Get the most bang for your buck.
 

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