Sunday, March 26, 2017

When Marketing Hype Fools A Book Marketer

Have you ever bought a book, sight unseen, and felt buyer’s remorse?

Though I feel swindled for plunking down $85 – actually it was a little more for the shipping – for a book that promised to be great but failed to deliver, it taught me a valuable lesson.

Well, two lessons.

1. Never, ever buy a book unless you have seen what is in it.  Mail-order-only books should be purchased with caution.

2. As an author or book marketer, you may want to copy the strategy that, as a consumer, annoys me.

The book in question was a photography book.  I knew I was taking a chance that I may not like it, but it was presented with the inviting style that one finds irresistible.  I’d read about it in several different publications and when I went to the publisher’s website at, I was sucked in.

The site described how famed shutterbug Jonathan Leder snapped off Polaroids of the gorgeous actress Emily Ratajkowski.  Just to be clear, she is the woman I would leave my wife for.  I fell in lust with her when she appeared in the movie, Gone Girl.

I saw a story from Vogue, the French edition, that published 10 of the photos.  I was sold.  I was blinded by her beauty and the anticipation of seeing this gorgeous woman in various states of undress until she was fully de-clothed.

So the marketing rules in play here are:

·         Create hype by leaking some information.
·         Use strong visuals to sell it.
·         Build a book around a popular figure.
·         Create a picture that leads the reader to fantasize.
·         Stir the consumer’s desire to own a collectible (it was numbered and autographed).
·         Don’t allow the consumer to browse through the contents (not available in stores).
·         Sex sells, sex sells, sex sells.

The book features five-year-old photos, taken from a photo shoot before she became a star.  This also added to the allure, a chance to see a pretty talent in her pre-star days.  This should have been great.

What I received, instead, was a thin paperback book that lacked style or substance.

It featured multiple photos per page with few filling a full page.  The paper size was small, so it made the images seem undersized and insignificant.

Most importantly, the images lacked artistic touches.  Some photographers' work can exceed or enhance their subject – this one underperformed and took away from his prized subject.

The images diminished her to an ordinary status.  There was no glamour or inventiveness attached to the images.  The poses were unoriginal and in some cases, a turn-off.

Of course this is just my opinion.  Perhaps others enjoyed the book whereas others would never have been drawn in to get a book featuring pictures of a C-list actress.  But to further my contention that the book was sub-par was the fact it misspelled the word “foreword” as “forward,” a common rookie mistake by self-published authors who quickly put books together on the cheap without the hint of having consulted an editor.

Still, as much as I feel like a sucker for having bought into the hype and seduced by the anticipation of what could have been, the experience made me feel terrific from the book marketing perspective.  It reaffirmed that people often buy on promise, not on the facts.  Even books of true substance need to hype themselves and promote their image in a certain light, otherwise no one shows up to the party.

So consumer, buyer beware.  But to the authors and book publicists out there, take note.  You can generate sales with the right blend of publicity and reader desire.  It also helps if you are offering seductive images of one of the hottest women on the planet.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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