BEA Panel Explores the Pros and Cons of Book Marketing Stunts
A book marketing stunt must have a counterintuitive, playful, fun element, Nawotka said, as when a New York writer's collective, Mischief and Mayhem, staged a "protest reading" outside a Barnes & Noble to send a message about mainstream publishing. Of course, this performance (like all stunts) carries the risk of alienating as many or more potential customers as it attracts.
"We all have a vested interest in selling books, so I think we all have to work together to find ways to connect to readers, and is it doing something shocking to connect to readers? Maybe," Cox said.
While these stunts can allow an author's personality to come out, they must be relevant to their approach and style, noted Ramy Habeeb, co-founder of Egyptian e-publishing house Kotobarabia.com.
"You need to make sure it does not hurt the audience's perception of the book or the author," he said. "If you're not funny, don't try to be. You need to know that about yourself."
Word-of-mouth is and will continue to be a major way to sell books in America and around the world, he noted. "People want to be able to connect, so just make sure you connect in a genuine way."
A team Cox worked for at Harper Collins dodged a potential public relations problem when planning publicity for a thriller, "The Righteous Men," with a story featuring a kidnapper's threatening text messages. They initially thought a marketing campaign utilizing texts that lead back to the book would be a good idea.
"We had the whole idea laid out and then we thought, wait, we're going to terrify people into buying the book?" she recalled. " .... Maybe we'll think of something else."