Friday, August 27, 2010

Anti-Marketing Tactics

from Emily Bryan...

Sometimes, you don't have to be the best. Being the worst will also get you attention on the web. That happened this week with the new website of Carina Press author Susanna Fraser.

It's a tongue-in-cheek site, purportedly thrown together by her long-suffering husband. It's lack of design is stunning. The content is hilarious for its very awfulness (for example: Here's her email. You should spam it.)

But it's not enough just to be terrible. You have to be conspicuously terrible. The site went viral on Twitter. It was bad enough to garner the attention of Barbara Vey--the PW Blogger, who posted about it (like I just did) and invited her readers to laugh along with her. And subsequently drove tons of traffic to Ms. Fraser's website.

Will this non-website sell books? Probably. Any publicity is good publicity and the site's sorry appearance does draw people to it, sort of like a traffic accident causes lookie-loo slowdowns. It works, after a fashion.

And makes me feel really silly for obsessing over updating my website, though I did appreciate the help I received from readers in deciding on the final color scheme. And don't get me started about the money I'm getting ready to spend on having pros redesign the site for my new pen name Mia Marlowe (I have a homegrown site now, though it's not as stunningly awful as Susanna Fraser's and therefore, probably not as effective! I'll let you be the judge.)

But websites aren't the be all and end all of marketing. Word of mouth is still the gold standard. A couple weekends ago, my DH and I visited Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA. The collection of medieval artifacts includes an impressive armory and a claymore as long as my DH is tall. While we were looking at the display, I fell into conversation with a lovely lady from Pennsylvania. The claymore reminded her of Jamie Fraser and she launched into raptures over Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

An author pens a story so engrossing, her readers feel compelled to talk about it to total strangers. Forget about websites. That's powerful marketing.

Have you ever recommended a book to a friend? A stranger? What was it and what about the story that made you feel the need to share it?


Carol A. Strickland August 27, 2010 at 5:05 AM  

Writing a great book is fabulous—but what if no one knows about it?

I've been in DreamWeaver training this week, learning both basics and advanced stuff that filled in what I already knew about the program. It took me about a year (2008) to completely convert my website to DW, and now I see that I really complicated things and need to simplify my system. Plus there are some PhotoShop techniques I want to explore that will make my site more elegant.

And thus, attract the general masses. (You know, the folks beyond the 800 or so Wonder Woman fans who explore that part of my site every month.)

I write what I think are engrossing, entertaining books. My prob is that no one knows about them. So I'm working on that. If I have to do a Bizarro website (but that's now been done, darnit!), I'll try it!

EmilyBryan August 27, 2010 at 5:17 AM  

Yeah, I doubt having an anti-site will work twice. Yet another example of why it's better to be first than better.

I admire you for tackling Dream Weaver. I use Front Page for my sites (technology I've been told is so last decade, but it's simple enough for me to understand how to use it.)

Just popped back from your website, which was not a cookie cutter design. I applaud you for that, but I thought the index page looked a little bare till I moved my mouse over the empty rectangles and pictures miraculously appeared.
I wonder how many websurfers move on without mousing the page...

Sarah Tormey August 27, 2010 at 6:05 AM  

I love recommending books to anyone who will listen! After all, it use to be my job to sell books:) I could go on for hours not only about the plot, but also the sales history, ect. Can't wait to check out Susanna's sight as I am just now reading her book!

EmilyBryan August 27, 2010 at 6:40 AM  

Sarah--I had to visit your website too. Very pretty. I see Wax Creative skinned your site. That's the company I've hired to do my Mia Marlowe redesign, but it'll be February before the new site is ready to launch. What can I say? They're so good, they're swamped.

I love to share good reads with friends too, which is why I never do reviews on my blog. I do recommendations. If I'm not wild about it, a book simply never makes the cut.

I still remember when one of my reading friends introduced me to MM Kaye and Jane Auel. "You have to read these books," she said. "Oh, I'm so envious of you that you haven't read them and you have all that pleasure ahead of you yet!"

Talk about a ringing endorsement...

Sandy August 27, 2010 at 6:56 AM  


I have read books that stayed in my mind for days, weeks, months or longer. Those books I always tell others about.

If only I had been the first to try the anti-marketing tactic. Smile.

EmilyBryan August 27, 2010 at 7:56 AM  

Sandy--Yeah, and why didn't I think of vegetarian vampires?;-)

Edie Ramer August 27, 2010 at 8:54 AM  

I recommend books all the time! I even gave my brother one of my Dick Francis books after he started reading James Patterson. I figured if he liked Patterson, he should love Francis.

I'm on a loop with Susanna. I know she didn't plan that as a marketing ploy. Who knew a sarcastic husband could bring her so much attention?

Liane Spicer August 27, 2010 at 10:57 AM  

I recommend books to friends all the time. Can't recall recommending any to strangers, though.

Darn, that website was terrible. I'll have to think of something even worse now. :D

Rose Lerner August 27, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

lol! I have to laugh at all the attention the site's been getting--Susanna is my critique partner and I can personally attest that the site really WAS created by her husband as a placeholder, although whether he's long-suffering is another question! (I can also personally attest that her book is AWESOME, by the way...)

Rose Lerner August 27, 2010 at 10:54 PM  

...which I guess makes that the last time I recommended a book!

EmilyBryan August 28, 2010 at 4:30 AM  

Edie--Wow! Being unintentionally brilliant is even better. Please tell Susanna I wish my husband hadn't tried so hard when he did my first website.

EmilyBryan August 28, 2010 at 4:33 AM  

Liane--I guess what struck me about the lady in the castle was how passionately invested she was in Gabaldon's characters. Jamie Fraser clearly lived in her imagination.

I want to write characters that do that.

EmilyBryan August 28, 2010 at 4:36 AM  

Rose--It's fun to hear the story behind the story. I really suspected Susanna's site was part of a diabolically clever way to go viral.

That's the weird thing about the internet. You never know what's going to click and take on a life of its own.

Ashlyn Chase August 28, 2010 at 5:45 AM  

I love a good tongue in cheek laugh. Thanks for sharing this Emily!!!


EmilyBryan August 28, 2010 at 11:03 AM  

Glad you enjoyed it, Ash!

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