Things that can go wrong with your new book release


Nick Mamatas is an author and editor known mostly for writing unusual books and being acerbic online. I enjoy his writing (even if it can be a little didactic at times) but haven’t been able to keep up with everything he’s written.

With his latest book, he breaks away from sf/f and moves to mystery (a genre I really love) and the book sounds terrific. Let me do that Amazon link thing:

The protagonist is a teenage punk in 1989 Long Island who has “crafted an outsider’s life combining the philosophies of Communism and Aleister Crowley’s black magic.” When her friend and mentor is found shot to death, she’s convinced that there’s more to it than simple suicide.

Not exactly your typical homicide detective with a dying wife, and it got a helluva review on NPR. You can click the cover image above if you want to buy it.

But I’m not writing this to push a book I haven’t read yet. That’s all just context for this:

Let’s talk about marketing. Marketing isn’t a science, nor is it an art. It’s basically a series of stories marketers tell themselves. One story marketers tell themselves that is that there are four “Ps” to marketing. They are product, place, price, and promotion. As marketing for books is of great concern on the Internet these days, thanks to ebooks and self-publishing, it might be worth looking at Love is the Law based on these four Ps. First thing to realize: authors really have very little control over product marketing. Publicity, on the other hand, yeah, that we can do. Publicity is all about getting to know me, and if you’re here, you do. But marketing and those four Ps, that’s largely up to the publisher. So how has the publisher been doing?


Anyway, this is pretty much a recipe for the destruction of a book.

Yeah, the marketing for his new release is going wonky in interesting (I can call it that since it isn’t happening to me) ways, and it’s instructive to read about. It’s also pretty painful, since the book sounds like it would be unusual and compelling but might fade all too quickly just to become another entry in the author’s backlist waiting for a new book to hit the market in a big way.

Still, it’s not as though the book is doomed. As Nick says in his post, there’s still word of mouth, and there’s no force more powerful in bookselling once a critical mass of enthusiastic readers sharing a book they love. Every author depends on their readers in that way.

Anyway, out of habit I put a request into my library to pick up a copy for me (I should have linked to that NPR review for them) but since I might be coming into a wee bit of money soon, I’ll ask the local bookshop to order one for me.

Added later: A second, completely different story to the same effect.