Failed Promo Ideas

I’m feeling a little punchy these days. See, debut authors are supposed to spend the runup to publication doing everything we can to promote ourselves, so that our books will sell a ton of copies right out of the gate — thus saving us from the midlist death spiral, the dreaded penname change (Octavia M. Tarrant!), and so on. But Book 3 has also been eating my soul, leaving precious little creativity for my promotional efforts.

So I’ve still been coming up with promotional ideas, but… well… they’re all stupid.

An example:

  • City on a Stick! You, too, can own your very own personal replica of Sky, the floating city of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! Buy my book and I will send you a personally-baked brownie (gluten-free available!) on a popsicle stick, lovingly cutout to resemble the distinctive skyline of the palace as rendered by artist Cliff Nielsen on the book’s cover. For a small additional administrative fee, the brownie can be made with “special” ingredients, symbolic of the mind-altering experience that is life among the Arameri. Not responsible for any addiction or overdose which might result.*

Oh, and this one:

  • Take a picture with the Nightlord! Want to share the thrilling experience of hanging out with the Lord of Darkness? OK! Just go into your bathroom with a digital camera, whisper his name, then take a photo of yourself in the mirror! Be sure not to use the flash for that “authentic look”.

I was thinking that one might go viral.

So now I’m in a mood to hear about other silly, useless, actively dangerous, or otherwise amusing promotional efforts. Please share links, macros, whatever; yours or others’. Maybe if I see enough silliness created by other people, I can purge the urge to bleach my hair white and proclaim myself the ruler of the universe. Your help is appreciated!

ETA: Slightly altered photo-taking one; thought it sounded a bit too silly.

* A note for any law enforcement officials who happen across this website: of course I’m not serious. I haven’t the slightest clue how to make “special” brownies, and I have no idea where I might find the ingredients for such. I’m not even going to make ordinary brownies for anybody. Drug addiction is a terrible thing, and so is diabetes, and naturally I have no intention of endorsing either. This was a joke, albeit a slightly tasteless one. Just sayin’.

29 thoughts on “Failed Promo Ideas”

  1. Nora, I couldn’t think of any bad ideas. I couldn’t think of any good ones either, though. I did pre-order your book for the Kindle, however, so at least you don’t have to market to me. :)

  2. How about “A Hundred Thousand Ks”? Font of your choice, on bond or scary scrapbooking paper, signed by the author.

    Looking forward to the book. I find the bloggy giveaways kind of strange. Glad to see someone not taking it all deathly seriously.

  3. Fairy bread made with hundreds and thousands! Then you could get a castle-shaped cookie cutter and churn them out production style. Also, it’d be healthy, because bread’s good for you!

    (My copy has apparently arrived at my parents’ house, where I’ve directed all my orders since the first two or three parcels sent to my own place went mysteriously missing.)

  4. The book is wending its way across the nation to me here in Oregon. When it gets here, I’ll have a pic taken of me and one of my dogs reading it, cover prominantly displayed.
    Interesting task you have.
    Cat Valente has many interesting marketing schemes; in fact, I think she may be “queen” of such things!! She’s had a contest (I believe) for jewelry made based on a book or two, art, etc. Once I read yours, I’ll have some ideas. Maybe:)
    I was absolutely enthralled with your 3 chapter teaser!

  5. Okay, admittedly, this isn’t original or cool or funny or potentially viral or anything, but I really, truly enjoyed Chapter 1 (sorry, I’m stalking you from FB) and if you’d like to guest post at my group blog (I know, I know, another guest blog post to suck the words out of your fingertips; nightmare!) I’d be thrilled to at least direct our tiny readership your way.

    You could also make an app that allows people to send various forms of randomly generated murder attempts to anyone they designate “rivals to the throne.” You’d have four intermixing columns: a number, a murder method, a delivery method and something else. For example, you could send “one poison fig with pretty ribbons” or “three stiletto-bearing footpads with bejeweled handkerchiefs.”

    That can’t get you into any more trouble than special brownies, I’d think.

  6. For myself I don’t need promotion because I bought a copy of THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS last week :)

    I know following proposals are nothing new.

    – I know that a lot of people like me like book trailers. Of course it needs to be a good one.

    – It is the same with book related bookmarks.

    – Start a competition: Take a picture based on following quote from your book:
    “She’s not hopeless,” he said, folding his arms. “Nothing to be done about her looks; I doubt even makeup will help. But put her in civilized attire and she can convey… nobility, at least.”

    – Your idea with the city on a stick is not that bad. I would modify it. Create a recipe for sky brownies. Then you need a cookie box in sky style. A lot of people like to eat sweets while they read. So you can offer the EAT & READ Package consisting of a copy of THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS and a stylish sky cookie box containing the tasty sky brownies!

  7. ::rofl:: I love the “K” idea; it’s delightfully silly.

    Yeah, I’m not a natural promoter, like some authors I’ve known. I try to learn from them, and of course the marketing folks at Orbit are brilliant and try to take advantage of my strengths (e.g., blogging about Important Issues, all the folks I know in the NYC writing community). But without them, I’d be lost. =)

  8. Wow, I never knew those things were called “hundreds and thousands”. Holy crap, now I do have to make something with those! (Not fairy bread, though; I think that much sugar would probably kill me =P)

    Yay, copy arrived!

  9. Yes, I actually have enjoyed reading Cat Valente’s blog and seeing how she markets her stuff; she’s great at that. I like the jewelry idea, although it doesn’t scale well — great for fundraisers, etc., though.

    But this thread is for silly promo ideas, and you’re making entirely too much sense. ^_-

  10. Hi Jessa,

    I love the murder idea! It’s like Clue — “the goddess of battle did it in the Garden with a magic flaming pike”! I miss Clue.

    Re: guest blogging — I’ve kind of got my hands full right now, but I wouldn’t be averse to doing a short interview, if you like. Maybe a couple of silly questions, or one steamy one, or something like that?

  11. More sense! Too much sense! These aren’t failed promo ideas, these are things I’ve actually done! =) I do have bookmarks, actually, and they’re lovely; a friend who’s a professional designer made them for me. Also have an audio trailer, though not a video one, and several contests running at the moment.

    Not sure I’d be comfortable with a “not quite hopeless” photo contest, though; I think there’s the potential for hurt feelings there. =)

    I think, given regulations on professional kitchens and sanitation and whatnot, I’d be better off avoiding food-based promotions entirely. Though I do like the idea of creating a recipe… hmm… ::noodles:: Maybe using those hundreds and thousands mentioned upthread…

  12. Anagrams. This one is Twitter-friendly. People come up with weird/interesting/apposite anagrams for your name, “The Inheritance Trilogy,” “Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,” names within your book, etc., tweet them with hashtag #100K or what have you. You pick the best one and, I don’t know, ask for their picture and take a photo of yourself hugging them.

    My contributions: your name can turn into “Jasmine Iron,” “Join Marines,” or “Ninja Isomer.”

    Fun fact! In India, there’s a special word for “one hundred thousand”: “Lakh.” So if/when your novel gets sold in India, the title may be much shorter!

  13. Eh?? No apology necessary; I don’t expect anyone to read all my dozens of past posts. I was just trying to keep things silly. =)

  14. How about altarskirt rose corsages? They’d be artificial, of course, cloth or plastic, and most of them would be ugly mutant rejects. (Why destroy them, really, when you can capitalize?) Only really lucky people would get a pretty one.

    This is really just a take-off on your brownie idea, only without the chocolate…

  15. Interestingly enough, I have a promotional opportunity for you. (I couldn’t find an email, so I’ll leave my info here.) I run a blog for newly published authors called Number One Novels ( On that blog, I interview authors who have made their first sell. I was wondering if you’d like to be interviewed for my blog.

    If you’re interested, drop me an email and I’ll give you a little more information.

    And I would totally love a City on a Stick! (Gluten-free, of course.) The idea totally cracked me up!

  16. gluten free for me also.. lol
    and watch that contact contamination… :D

    still gonna do the whole dog reading the book thing.. I may dress him or her up (not in clothes) but with something fandogish..

    great ideas here, both for the fail and the win!

  17. Ooh, I like the anagrams idea. Mostly because I like “Jasmine Iron” — I think I’ve found a new backup name if I have to restart my writing career! =)

  18. ::rofl:: I actually really like this idea. Probably not cheap to do, but still fun. =) We could skeet the mutants with the scent of rotting meat, just for accuracy!

  19. Nora,

    Before you feel like you’re burning out, call on your friends to promote you. Like you, we’re crazy busy, but if you holla, I will listen. Will be putting up some links about you and let’s do a profile at Color Online.

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