Monday, February 19, 2007

Great Marketing Ploy or Writer Suicide???

Okay, by now, you know my first full-length novel is due out this September. I've chronicled a lot of the journey here on this blog.

There have been ups and downs along the way. Everything hasn't been sunshine, lollipops and puppy dogs. However, from the moment I set out to be published, I approached it as a business. I knew that I would need to be willing to accept editorial advice that I might not agree with.

Fortunately, I have been extraordinarily lucky. Both Jacky, my agent, and Tracy, my editor, give terrific advice. I trust their judgment and have been willing to go along with their suggestions.

The only real disagreement I have had was on the title of my book. I originally named it You've Been a Bad Girl. The NAL staff wanted to rename it Bad Girl. I went along with it. Tracy sensed I wasn't happy and said, "I want you to like the choice." I was absolutely honest when I said, "You all have way more experience than I have. I'm willing to trust your judgment even if it's not the title I would have picked."

Having said all that, I just read a story that made my jaw drop. A writer named James Bernard Frost has his debut novel coming out on February 21 (St. Martin's Press). Frost wasn't happy with the cover. He was so unhappy that St. Martin's did a redesign. Frost still wasn't happy. That's when he came up with the idea of hiring an artist to do a black-and-white vinyl sticker that could be slapped on top of the St. Martin's cover.

Additionally, he decided to self-publish an addendum that added back everything the St. Martin's Press editors cut out.

You can go here to order Frost's sticker cover and addendum, or just to see the original cover and Frost's vinyl cover (that you are free to color in any way you like).

I'd love to know what St. Martin's thinks about all this. Of course, you could look at it like free publicity for their book. Then, again, you might choose to look at it like writer suicide.


Sherrill Quinn said...

Oy. I can't even imagine, as a first-time author, doing this. I think maybe this guy will be self-publishing from now on...

lainey bancroft said...

It is most certainly not something I would choose to do...but, look at the buzz he's already created.
Because there are so many people willing to gaze at a train wreck, for lack of a better phrase, I've no doubt he will sell at least a few of his self-pubbd books to the many ego maniacs in the world who also believe they know more than publishers/editors.

I do wonder about the legality of slapping a sticker on a book, though. What does he plan to do? Wander in to a book store and alter the copies on the shelf? Smacks of vandalism if ya ask me.

Maya Reynolds said...

Sherrill and Lainey: My first reaction was exactly the same as yours. Then I noticed that, while he is charging for the addendum, he is giving the sticker away for free.

Maybe we need to look at this the same way we look at bookmarks: part of a publicity campaign for the book. As Lainey points out, he is getting great play in the news. Recently I saw an old clip of Anna Nicole Smith saying that any publicity is good if it gets your name out there.

Still, I'd LOVE to know what St. Martin thinks.

lainey bancroft said...

I'm not a betting gal, but if I had to lay money on this, I'd say St. Martin's would probably love to tar and feather him. Mainly due to the fact that if this works and his book/sticker/addendum sells like hot cakes, there will be many eager to follow the trail he's trying to blaze. One prima donna is entire publishing house over run with them would be a nightmare.

Maya Reynolds said...

And it perfectly fits the stereotype of a sci-fi writer who believes every word of his 200K-word tome is precious and not to be edited.

One of the few times when I really believe self-publishing is the right choice for a writer whose need for absolute control is overwhelming.