Synchronicity in Surreal Advertising

I just read a blog post by Kristen Lamb that calls for an end of spam advertising by Indie authors. I’m sure you’ve experienced this phenomenon on #Facebook and #Twitter. She says that we should start partaking in a new form of marketing and promotion called “Padvertising.” Since most readers are women, it should come as no surprise that Padvertising means to promote your book on panty liners.

Despite the humorous and Monty Python-esque nature of the idea, reading it brought back a memory.

You can’t see me typing away on my keyboard, but I have placed a hand on the Bible and promise to tell the whole truth.

Urinal1

Photo by Andre Chinn Used under CC License

One day in January 2001 I was waiting for my girlfriend to arrive at Penn Station in NYC. She was a total nympho and I was eagerly anticipating a week of debauchery with her (see, I promised to tell the truth). While waiting for her train to arrive, and after two or three cups of coffee, I needed to relieve the old bladder.

I went into the men’s room and approached the urinal, and boy was I surprised at what I saw. On the plastic screen inside the urinal was an advertisement. I do not remember the name of the investment firm or the phone number, but I do remember the rest of the ad.

“Stop pissing your money away! Call Johnson Investments (212) 555-1234”

There I was, chuckling and snorting while standing at a urinal in a public men’s room. Luckily nobody punched me. Thanks, Kristen, for helping me to dredge up this memory.

So what’s the most oddball / comical form of advertising that you’ve ever seen?

Caution: Automated Tweets Can Make You Look Like a Twit

On January 28, 2014, President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech. The Twitterverse exploded with commentary from people representing every possible moniker in the political spectrum, tweeting after every major point. The pros, the cons, the accusers, and the supporters all put in their $2.22 (hey, inflation).  And the scrolling screen looked something like this (The following conversation is fictitious.  Any similarities to actual names or tweets is purely coincidental)….

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Republicant1 @rino
I noticed that the #POTUS hasn’t mentioned Obamacare #SOTU

Dumbocrat1 @moron
@rino  Why should the #POTUS mention it. The ACA website is fine now #SOTU

Republicant2 @conserve
@moron @rino Because #POTUS won’t remind anyone during  #SOTU how he bypassed the Constitution

Author1 @wannabe
Buy my book now! – The Three Little Violent Pigs – #Nook  #Kindle #ebook wp.linklink1

TeaParty1 @angryvoter
Will the usurper in chief #POTUS ever end? This is a long #SOTU

Republicant1 @rino
@angryvoter  #POTUS Usurper and liar!

Dumbocrat2 @libtard
@angryvoter @rino Can’t call #POTUS an usurper. He was legally elected twice.

Author2 @lovewrite
Another 5* #Amazon review for my romance novel – How I’d Love to Fall in Love.  Buy it now! wp.link2linky  #author #write

TeaParty1 @angryvote
@libtard You call that farce an election!?

Author3 @Hackysack
New spellbinding #thriller – Get Out of the Bathroom and Give Someone Else a Chance.  Available Now!  wp.4linklink3

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Are you getting the picture? When tweeters are conversing and debating a major live event, the book promotions are incredibly non-sequitur. The authors were either using a bot or just not paying attention, and it showed in a bad way. Do you honestly think anyone bought their books based on those tweets?

I know at least one person who’s bought one of my stories because I don’t tweet book promotions every few minutes.  For all the new authors out there, yes, Twitter can be a powerful tool, but only if you use it right.  Take part in discussions, and have something interesting to say about things other than your work.  It’ll pay off.

Free Previews: A Double-Edged Sword?

If you’ve browsed for a novel or a short story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords, then you’re probably familiar with the free preview feature. On Amazon you can view the first 10% of an e-book, and on Smashwords it varies by author preference.

Now many think that this is a positive feature for your work. After all, you’ve been through several revisions of the piece and you want prospective readers to see that you’re not contributing to the dreaded Indie Author Stigma. You want to show that your writing is clear and properly edited, with no amateur errors.

I suppose that’s a good thing, but here’s the problem. I’ve heard that most audiences today judge whether or not they like a film within the first five minutes, and I suspect that readers are no different. So what happens when the best parts of your work are in the middle or at the end?

I’m selling short stories right now, as a way to build up some readership before my novel is ready for the public. My own quirky story-telling manner never jumps at you in the first page or two. Instead, my style does quite the opposite. I like to lull a reader into a sense of security before everything begins to run amok. Therefore, the first page or two may not hook a potential reader and reel them in. But my beta readers tell me that the lulling makes for a real punch at the end, so I’m reluctant to change this style.

Now, we all know about the need for a first chapter to be powerful. However, I’m talking about a short story, which can be chapter length or less. So the online retailers only show the first few pages, which I generally use to establish characters and setting. Therefore that percentage-based preview often cuts off before the story really gets going.  And I really wonder if that is affecting my readership.

So I have two questions for the blogosphere:

Readers:  

Authors: