By Erin L. Cox
On Wednesday, my colleague, Edward Nawotka, hosted a panel discussing book stunts, some of which we’ve previously chronicled on our site. From Chilean artists dropping poetry on Berlin to Eichborn’s fly promotion at the Frankfurt Book Fair to Jennifer Belle’s “laughter project” of actresses laughing at her novel on the subway, these stunts got attention and publicity…but did they sell books?
The goal of any promotion that a writer or house does is ultimately to get attention and sell books. But how do we do that? Are stunts always worth the money or hype or is niche publicity and marketing just as effective at reaching readers?
In this time of dwindling book review outlets, more attention being paid to fewer titles, and more books being published now more than ever, we’re all struggling to get attention for our books and companies. So, the idea of pulling a stunt that would get a lot of eyeballs and potential interest seems enticing, particularly if you have a good idea.
Though I do think that stunts get a lot of impressions, I don’t know that they increase long-term sales of a book. I do think that marketing to a niche audience based on the subject of a book has more of an impact and it comes organically. For instance, if your book is about autism and you market to Autism Speaks or the Autism Society of America to see about reaching their members, it makes better sense and could increase backlist sales. In addition to marketing to these groups, it might also make sense to create events that allow the author to speak to this audience and allow for a physical (or virtual) conversation.
Of course, stunts are often a lot more fun. In this day and age of less-expensive digital options, it might be something interesting to try out and entertaining for both you and your audience. Getting more impressions is always a good thing, so, if you have a great idea, why not give it a try?