Monday, July 30, 2012

On Marketing: You vs. Your Book



So. Marketing. It's a side of the publishing world that both excites and mystifies me. Sometimes authors have the full support of their pub house in their marketing campaign. Sometimes they don't. But authors are always on the lookout for awesomesauce ways of promoting their work, right? They want their books to reach as many readers as possible. This post won't delve into the whole good/bad reviews discussion, nor will it tackle self-published vs. traditionally published authors. 

No, folks. This post is about Kristen Stewart.

You see, Kristen Stewart--the actress who plays Bella Swan in the Twilight film adaptations--isn't an author. But she's well acquainted with promoting a product. In her case, it's the movies, with the final installment hitting theaters in November. Last week, Kristen's personal life (which she's kept under wraps for years) suffered due to a mistake on her behalf. Not only did she feel compelled to do damage control in her personal life, but she also took it upon herself to address the situation publicly. 

Now back to marketing: when Kristen goes out to promote Breaking Dawn Part 2, she'll have to answer question upon question about the movie/book/her character in both mediums. But since she addressed her personal life in a public statement, I'm sure a few reporters will want to sneak in some questions aimed at her mistake. Kristen will either refuse to answer personal questions, or she'll tackle them head-on. But at the end of the day, she's not selling herself, she's selling a movie.  

Or is she? 

As far as I'm concerned, Kristen isn't Bella. Authors aren't their books. Bella is part of Kristen's life. Your book is part of your life. But how do we speak of one without referring to the other?

I'm curious: What's your take on this whole you vs. your book marketing beast-creature-thing? Promote the product? Promote yourself? Both? Any tips for those who're struggling to choose/find the balance between them?

 

6 comments:

  1. Regarding Kristen Stewart, in a way she IS promoting herself. Part of staying on the "A" List and commanding millions of dollars for films is by name/face recognition. So, as much as she's there to push for fannies in the seats, she's also pushing to keep herself on that A List.

    Regarding the authors thing: many years ago, a person left the company I worked for for a new job with a new organization. At her farewell party, she made a statement to me that made it clear she was ALREADY thinking about the next step, whatever it would be. When I commented on it, she said, roughly "you've always got to be looking ahead." On the interview circuit, blog hop, readings/signings, it's important to remember that we're not just promoting the current book, we're laying the groundwork for the next one.

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  2. It is exactly this connection between artist and product that keeps me from publicly discussing my opinion on things like politics and religion - because there are a lot of people out there who would refuse to read my books if they disagreed with something I said. While writing is an art, it's also a business, and I try to conduct myself as I would if I worked for any other business. Which means acting professional as much as possible while still giving my readers enough of the personal me to be able to connect with me :) It's a fine line for sure :)

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  3. p.s. I think this also changes depending on how popular/famous you are. There will be people who won't go see KStew's movies because of this. There will be people who will go see everything she's ever made because of this. Either way, it probably won't affect her much. Just like it wouldn't affect J.K. Rowling much if she said or did something controversial.

    But when you are just starting out, a brand new debut author trying to build an audience, it's a bit of a different ball game. If I ever get as popular as Nora Roberts, I'll probably let a few more eccentricities out to play :D Until then, I'll try to exercise a bit of restraint ;)

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  4. I didn't consider myself a huge Robsten fan, but I kind of liked that the actors of Edward and Bella ended up falling in love like Edward and Bella... or not, I guess. But I was surprised at my own reaction when my husband told me she'd cheated on Rob. I immediately dismissed it as tabloid lies. Kristen would never cheat on Rob! What I meant, I'm sure, was that Bella would never cheat on Edward (even though she sort of kind of does in Eclipse). My hubz had to show me the public apology by Kristen Stewart to prove it to me. Anyway, I guess my reaction pretty much illustrates how much I had merged the actress and the character in my mind. And I do the same thing with certain very public authors and their books (Stephenie Meyer and Melanie Stryder, Kiersten White and Evie Green, JK Rowling and Dumbledore).

    So yeah, I think that connection between an author and her product is pretty important.

    Meanwhile, I'm wondering if Robert Pattinson will end up as long-suffering and patient as Edward Cullen when he had to hear Jacob's thoughts as Bella kissed him to keep him from going to war.

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  5. I would imagine that for new writers, promoting both your work and yourself as an author is key. If readers like your book, they'll want to know more about the author, and having information ready will help ensure their continued support throughout your career.

    Take care,
    Jennifer

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