Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Continuing our interview series with Ex-Advertising-Folks, we bring you Part 2 of a conversation with Marshall Karp, author of “Rabbit Factory,” “Blood Thirsty,” and the recently-released “Flipping Out” (Minotaur).
For Part One, click here. And remember, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Marshall’s latest Lomax & Biggs mystery, be sure to leave a comment in response to our question at the bottom of this weeks’ column.
Marshall, for someone steeped in traditional advertising, how does it feel to be hip-deep in modern social networking, like Facebook and Twitter?
Dumb. Not just foolishly ridiculous I-am-so-out-of-my-element dumb, but downright stupid I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing-maybe-I’m-too-old-for-this dumb. In my first few days on Facebook I couldn’t figure out the privacy settings, and some of my private posts went public. Dear Doc, the rash is spreading and the burning hurts something fierce. Okay, maybe not that, but still…
As for Twitter, I can’t imagine how traditional advertising would have any value when all the people you’re trying to reach are furiously typing about Jon & Kate Plus 8.
Facebook and Twitter are not advertising media. Nevertheless, I’m on them, along with half a billion other
lemmings hip people. I can’t imagine they help me sell many books. Even if they did, considering how much time I waste, it would probably be more cost effective for me hang around Barnes and Noble and accost people as they browse through the mystery section. Yo… wanna buy a good book?
And now, here’s my dirty little secret. Even though social networking is actually just social not working, I am totally hooked on it. It connects me with readers in ways that I never could do with all that traditional advertising I got steeped in. I don’t know if it works, I don’t care if it works, I don’t know if I’m any good at it, I don’t care if I’m any good at it — it’s a lot more fun that shooting a commercial for yeast infection suppositories.
If you hit the publishing lottery and were given a $100K marketing budget for your next release, how would you spend it? Print? TV? Outdoor? Online? Bribing Janet Maslin?
I never thought about outdoor, but it sounds really tempting. I don’t know if it would be effective, but it sure would be fun zipping past all those billboards as I tooled along Route 66 from Chicago to LA.
Here’s the scary truth. I don’t think anyone in publishing can tell you the most effective way to market a book. From the little I know I think I’d want to spend my hundred grand with the trade getting palettes of my books into the big box stores and front-of-store displays at B&N.
What one piece of advice would you give to new writers embarking on their first book marketing campaign?
You’re not going to like this, boys and girls, but here it is: The single most important person marketing your book is you. In fact, there will be plenty of times when you’ll feel like the ONLY person marketing your book is you. That doesn’t mean your publisher doesn’t love you. It just means that your publisher is busy with all the other kids who write books. It’s kind of like OctoMom. She just doesn’t have enough tits to go around.
You can count on a good publisher to sell your books into the stores, and send out ARCs to reviewers and set up some in-store events, but don’t expect them to come up with the ways or the means to reach your readers. That’s up to you.
You asked for one piece of advice. So I didn’t say get a website, sign up for Facebook, or plan a thirty day blog tour. How you make the magic happen is your call. Just make sure you remember that you’re the magician.
Any common mistakes you see with new or established author's websites/advertising efforts?
I used to be an agency Creative Director, so I’d much rather dissect every author’s site on an individual basis. But putting them all in a lump, the most common mistake I see is that an author puts up a site and walks away from it, thinking it’s all done till the next book come out. The best sites are dynamic and change on a regular basis. That means reaching out to your readers. Often. And not just with your latest appearance schedule, but with something that interests them and keep them interested in you. Blogging works. And blogs are a great way to give readers a taste of how you write before your editor fixes it.
You worked at J. Walter Thompson with James Patterson... so, how does he take his coffee?
I was just a lowly copywriter for Mr. Patterson. You had to be a Senior Vice-President before you could get him his coffee.
No, seriously, Patterson helped encourage you to write 'Rabbit Factory'... did you send him 10% of your advance, or did you figure he was doing OK on his own?
I thanked Jim profusely in the acknowledgements of the book, and of course I’m standing by if he ever needs a kidney.
Thanks for the time, Marshall… and be sure to let us know if Mr. Patterson ever needs a liver. Mine is only halfway abused.
Now, who wants to win a free, signed copy of “Flipping Out”?
All you have to do is tell us the name of your favorite wisecracking literary character. A winner will be chosen randomly from everyone who leaves a comment during our 2-part interview with Marshall.
Gregory Huffstutter has been punching Ad Agency timecards for the past dozen years, working on accounts like McDonald's, KIA Motors, Suzuki Automotive, and the San Diego Padres. His first mystery, KATZ CRADLE is on submission while he's working on the sequel. The first 100 pages of his novel are linked here. For general advertising questions, leave a comment or send e-mail to katz @ gregoryhuffstutter dot com with 'Ask The Ad Man' in the subject line.