Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Marketing Ploys

I confess that I've become jaded to today's marketing ploys.

One day eggs are killing us, and the next they are a vitamin- packed wonder food. (I like eggs.)

The news shows report that cranberries are a miracle food to fight cancer, and the next day stocks of corporate cranberry farms double and ride a (could it be a self-generated?) wave until a new miracle fruit is touted. (I like cranberries too.)

I already avoid a lot of bottled water because much of it is just filtered city water, still containing traces of chlorine, fluoride, and other things I don't want. Now marketers are telling me I need fruity vitamin loaded water. These "naturally flavored" (?) drinks with crystallized corn syrup can still pack in 125 calories per bottle. And now I find there is a water on the market that is somehow exposed to "positive" vibrations from words and music that will transfer emotions like love and gratitude to the drinker. Give me a break!

Part of choosing a book to publish is answering the question of whether I can believe in it enough to market it to our sales team. If I'm going to got to bat for a book, then I need to believe in its ability to sell in a store and touch readers' lives. If I can't believe in an authors' writing, then I can't find it in me to spin false marketing just to sell a book.

I hate fake marketing ploys.

A book proposal is an author's marketing tool to a publisher. If the proposal markets a promise that the book doesn't deliver upon, then I'm really turned off. If it promises laughs from a good humor writer and there is no trace of humor in the first chapter, then I feel cheated. If the proposal touts the author as a reader favorite and she has only sold one book to a series like our own Heartsong, then I laugh at the exaggeration.

Do play up the strengths of your writing and your story when you write a proposal or make a verbal pitch, but don't resort to exaggerations or misconceived notions about your writing just to try to impress an editor. We'll see through that.

If you have done the work to make your writing shine to the best of your ability, you won't have to pump any fake vitamins or positive energy vibrations in it to make it sell. When the timing is right according to God's will in your life, then nothing will stop a sale from happening.

(Is anyone else marketing jaded? Or has anyone actually spent money on things like energized water? Fess up!)


Blissful said...

I confess, I buy bottled water. Haven't gone organic yet, though. :)

Thanks for the post. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm kicking a horrible Coca Cola habit so yes, I buy bottled water and add a lemon favor called 'Free and Light' that has absolutely no calories. It's the only way I can stay off the fountain drinks! :)

Patty Hall

Jess said...

Quickly popping in to say yeah, I buy bottled water. If you live in a town with a lot of refineries, it can't be worse than what comes out of the pipes.

I get very distressed over marketing ploys. Protein water? yuck! I visualize a bunch of assembly line workers squeezing raw meat juice into each water bottle. argh! Making myself sick here but that's exactly what pops into my mind. :(

My thumb hits the mute button on most commericals these days and that's sad because I studied advertising in college and used to love commercials.

Lynette Sowell said...

Our water is very 'hard' where we live in TX. So I don't drink a lot of tap water. If I do, lemon works to mask the hardness. My 16yo daughter, though, LOVES the new Lifewater. Um, I'll let her spend her own $$ on that. LOL. :)

Ausjenny said...

cant say water gets alot of promotion on tv here but i have to say we drink rain water fresh from the sky via the roof into the gutters and into our rain water tank and then i put it in our filter jug just incase there are any things in it.
but i can drink it fromthe tap.
i only buy bottled water when away.

Becky said...

I do buy bottled water when I'm traveling, but I look for water from a natural spring or artisan well. I not against bottled water, but I am against being told their doctored up water is better for me than what I can get free my own well.

Myra Johnson said...

Lately I've been seeing a lot of full-page newspaper ads about this "miracle Amish heater." It looks like a portable fireplace and is supposed to use minuscule amounts of electricity.

Just this morning a consumer protection columnist exposed the product as a ripoff. The only "Amish" part of the heater is the wooden framework it's mounted in, and there's no way it can produce the heat the ad claims and use that little power.

Can't help but wonder how many have been taken in by the ads, though. Wish there was a way to enforce truth in advertising!

Pam Hillman said...

I buy bottled water. Fruit20 Lemon flavor, 0 everything...except some sodium only because I like it and will drink several of those a day, but find it hard to drink enough unflavored water.

Becky, regarding proposals. What's your feeling on flavoring the synopsis, letter, and any other marketing tools with the author's voice? Say, if an author writes romantic comedy, would she be better served keeping that part of her proposal businesslike, or would it be okay to include a lot of humor just as she does in her chapters?

Becky said...

I'm not opposed to humor or the like in the actual book proposal as long as it is reflective of the story.

I have, though, read proposal letters and summaries that are more appealing than the first chapter.

Truly, I'm one of those editors who might read the first paragraph of a proposal letter then skip to the first chapter to see if I'm intrigued enough to study the proposal from start to finish.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm so old school about bottled water. Or maybe tightwad is a better word. I drink the occasional bottle of water for conveniences sake but the whole time, I'm muttering in my head, "cost me a dollar for something I coulda gotten out of a tap for free."

And marketing, you need to be excited about the project, that makes sense to me.
My dad was a crop insurance salesman, and a farmer. I asked him once if it was hard to drive into someones lane and go and try to sell them something. I was a shy kid and it horrified me.

But he said it wasn't hard to sell something you thought people ought to have. So he could do it. But it would be hard to sell something you didn't believe in.

So this makes sense to me. :)

Janet Spaeth said...

I do like bottled water when I'm at work.

But I'm so waaaaay behind on the new products.

Today I went to buy a sandwich at the univ. cafe and saw Life water. Oh, I said to myself, that's what they're talking about. It was a beautiful pink but I didn't buy it because:
a. It was pink. Water is supposed to be clear.
b. It claimed to make me calm. I was going into a meeting. I'm a fairly mellow person. Any calmer and I'd be snoring over my minutes of the last meeting....

So, can someone tell me, what does this stuff taste like?

Myra Johnson said...

Mary said: "But he said it wasn't hard to sell something you thought people ought to have. So he could do it. But it would be hard to sell something you didn't believe in."

As writers, we have to believe in our "product," don't we? Granted, we shouldn't make pretentious claims about its merits, but if we're not sold on the story ourselves, how can we expect an editor to be?

As for bottled water, for me it's just a matter of convenience if I'm out somewhere. At home, it's straight from the tap.

Becky said...

I didn't really expect the comments to be all about bottled water, but can someone tell me why the phrase "bottled water" in my post has a link on it? I've never been to that sight. I tried to take it off, but it doesn't show up in my edit screen. So where did it come from? A bug?

Mary Connealy said...

Okay, I'll talk marketing.
Telling an unpublished author they need to discuss 'marketing' their book to an acquiring editor was, to me, very scary.
I just didn't know what that meant?
I finally defined it for myself (no doubt being part lazy, part terrified) as comparing it to other books, as in 'readers of William Shakespeare will love Mary Connealy's books) -- bad example, huh?

So when Petticoat Ranch was all done and tidy I was researching publishers and where to pitch it and I was just not finding anything quite like it.
Lots of historicals, but more prairie than westerns.
Lots of romantic comedy, but mostly in chick lit, contemporary, first person novels.
So I was pitching it as a historical romance for a while, but it wasn't a good fit.
And then I read Lori Copeland's Peacemaker, from her Men of the Saddle series.
There is was. Historical western romantic comedy with action and suspense.
After that I'd say, "People who enjoy LC's Peacemaker would like Petticoat Ranch."
Since then I've found lots of historical romantic comedy. I don't know if I'm just finding it or it's the new craze but Cathy Marie Hake and DeeAnne Gist are many others are now writing in that genre, and DiAnne Mills is doing books with a western flavor.
So, my approach to marketing is probably one tiny step in a very complex subject but that's what marketing was to me.

I guess I got my marketing from the tap, too, huh?
I've let Barbour bottle me and flavor me. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Becky, it looks like somehow someone has linked the blog site to Snap Shots (click on the link at the bottom right of the pop-up window). Never heard of it until I saw it here. Interesting little gizmo!

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