A Marketing Question

I was looking over another author’s site today and noticed the prominent use of phrases like “5-Star Review” and “Critically Acclaimed!” Now I’m not implying their work is bad, but being familiar with the review process on independent sites and Amazon, I’m not as impressed as a typical reader might be.

It’s marketing, you say. Lighten up. OK – fair enough. But don’t you think the average reader is more savvy, more cynical, these days and can see through PR spin?

I’ve gotten 5-Star Reviews at Amazon and Smashwords, and had a number of independent sites favorably assess “Running Black”, so I guess I can start throwing those phrases around myself. I’ve also been accused more than once of being a ‘tool of Satan’ ‘spreading poison’ and ‘filth’ because I’m a professing Christian and there is violence and profanity in my novel. Can I start billing RB as “the controversial new thriller” now?

Should I?

Marketing is part and parcel of the process, especially for an indie debut novelist, but the thought of doing so doesn’t sit right.

Am I being too high minded?

5 Comments on “A Marketing Question

  1. Marketing can backfire if the expectations don’t match the product. But how would one make sure they DO match?

    • Good question. There’s always the subjective element to this. One’s man’s trash… On the other hand, striving after “professional” and “peer” approval can emasculate your creativity in no time flat. Art by Committee is impotent. Personally, when I’m hunting for a new book/music/art/film, after my initial interest is sparked, I tend to investigate for a consensus of trusted opinions before I invest more time and money. That’s one of the great things about Amazon reviews and Goodreads.

      I remain curious about marketing however. I mean, I do want “RB” to get exposure (and sales) and pronouncements like “Five Star” and “Critically Acclaimed” definitely sway potential readers. How far can you spin a “technical” truth in marketing? I’ve had readers in the Czech Republic, Spain, the UK, and Sweden, Canada and Chile – but I’d feel greasy billing myself as “internationally renowned”.

      I need to work on this, but in the end I’ll have to respect the boundaries my conscience sets.

  2. I am immediately suspicious of any book with all 5-star reviews. Between the agent, the spouse, the siblings, the writers’ group buds and the occasional sycophant there’s hardly a writer alive who can’t front load his or her release with a half-dozen or more sawbucks.

    As I tell friends with negative reviews, there is not one Classic book out there with all fivers. So…if you’ve got a solid 5 star rating I KNOW it’s padded by your mama n’ her friends.

  3. Marketing can be a tricky field. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls flat on its face. I can usually spot spin & fluffy reviews a mile away.
    I struggle with engaging in secular marketing as a Christian. We are not supposed to be of the world. A Christian Scouting organization I belong to has begun using 2 secular marketing models, “Branding” & “Relational Marketing”. I do not agree with what they are doing & I am not particularly popular as a result. The “prophets” of marketing in our organization call me “worldly” “against change” etc. Worldy? really? who is running to embrace secular advertising models? I have almost achieved “Tool of satan” status myself 😀 So I understand.

    Marketing could be a slippery slope. But books are a far different world than Evangelistic organizations. Patrick, my advice is pray & trust to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Thanks for weighing in. I wholeheartedly agree; creative advertising is one thing, but I’m not going to pad out my work artificially. Stunts like that always comes back to bite you.

    BTW, maybe I misunderstood you, but I’ve always taken the “in, not of” phrase to mean we shouldn’t be infected by/operate in the predatory, the promiscuous, the mercenary mindset of our society. Employing tools, business models, or strategies – so long as they aren’t inherently dishonest – is common sense and part of functioning in our society. In a Christian business context, those can never be a substitute for prayer, integrity and quality – they’re secondary resources.

    I do appreciate your advice and support, and will continue to pray.

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