I just got a knock on the door from the postman who had, in addition to the other three books already in the mailbox, an over-sized package from Random House. When I opened it I was surprised to find two things inside — the eco-book Heat by George Monbiot (how to stop the planet from burning) and a two-pack of those high-efficiency coiled mini fluorescent bulbs that fit in standard incandescent light sockets (and there was also that giant bubble wrap, which will provide me, I mean, my child with hours of entertainment). Well, this is good because our whole house is already filled with these, so when they burn out in five or six years, I’ll have replacements. But it’s also an attention getting marketing strategy.
It’s rare I pay attention to non-fiction that isn’t about the literary world, so this really brought me up cold (you only need your thermostat at 18 degrees, right?). If it had just been the book, I might not have noticed it among the others. I even looked at the press release, which was stapled to a page of tips on how to save the planet. Top of the list? “Cut your flights. Nothing else you do causes so much climate change in so short a time.” Um? Airmail?
Anyway, I am going to give it a read. My attention has been got. I figure if I don’t say something now, the innovative thinkers at Random publicity might send someone over to sabotage my air conditioner or something.
I guess my point here is that it really does take something new to get attention for your book, particularly when you’re dealing with an unpopular topic — like what selfish energy pigs we are. I’m figuring the bulbs cost about six bucks and the price of shipping was probably doubled. From the publisher’s POV, that’s money well-spent, I would guess, if people take notice. (And yes, I checked –Â “ancient-forest friendly (100% post-consumer recycled) and chlorine-free” paper.)