Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writers Over The Edge: For Real

Grumbles from the desk of Tamela Buhrke

I was about to start the 4th blog post in my series on Building Your Marketing Machine, when I stumbled upon an article that made me smack my forehead—repeatedly. So instead of my original post, I am bringing you a cautionary tale about poor marketing strategy.

Recently, aspiring author, Mark Davis, sent query emails to agents, which began with the sentence: “By the time you receive this, I will have already have kidnapped your child.” You can read more about his stunt by clicking here.

To clarify things a bit, the novel that Mr. Davis was querying featured a character who snaps after his novel is rejected one too many times and he decides to kidnap an agent’s daughter. He gives the agent 90 days to publish his novel. Davis thought that sending this threatening email to an agent in the guise of his character, was a great marketing tactic that would help his book stand out from the crowd.

Now you understand why my forehead is red from the earlier smacking.

I write a series for this blog entitled Writers Over The Edge where I lampoon the crazy lengths that writers will go to get (and stay) published. I see now that I may not be projecting the right message. So let me be clear: Writers Over The Edge was never meant as a training manual for publication.

Yet there it was in black and white, a true Writer Over The Edge threatening the children of agents. Even if those agents only believed it for a moment—what horrible moment!

I know we are writers and thus are eager to get the attention of the Gatekeepers to Authordom (aka agents). We have all made a faux pas or two. Writers have been known to follow agents into bathrooms while pitching ideas. Some try to bribe agents with bakery goods, theater tickets or alcohol. Even if we haven’t done crazy things, we’ve at least thought about them. So I can forgive you if you can’t help but wonder (even as you cringe at this man’s tactics) did it work?

Thankfully, no. He did receive a phone call from an agent—who yelled at him. In the end, Davis was signed by an independent publishing company. No word on agent representation. After a stunt like that, I wonder if he ever will.

Davis chalked his actions up to marketing. This was not marketing. This was a desperate gamble for attention. Marketing works when it is backed by a good book, contains a strong plan and has a longterm strategy for sales.

Threatening a gatekeeper is not marketing.


Cindy Keen Reynders said...

A very unprofessional way to try and do business.

Tamela Buhrke said...

There needs to be a line that people won't cross. I just wish it would be painted neon orange and displayed proudly by those of us who would never think to cross it.

j.a. kazimer said...

Hmmm...doesn't seem like the smartest move to endear yourself to an agent. It would get my attention though, of course, that would follow with a police report, restaining order, etc...

Karen Duvall said...

Wow... Just wow. It's amazing what some people will do to try getting attention. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Ouchy.

Joanne Kennedy said...

I kind of admire spunky, savvy marketing, but this is going too far. And it seems like the energy might be better spent in writing a really, really good book and being persistent in getting it out to appropriate agents. I know - I'm hopelessly old-fashioned.