Book Publicity and Author Marketing With a Bang

Musings on the Man Who Allegedly Shot Himself to Promote His Book

By Dan Smith, CEO

When I first heard the story of the West Virginia man who went to Montana and allegedly shot himself to draw attention to his book, I truthfully wasn’t that shocked at this new method of author marketing. Some authors go to great lengths to get attention. I remember an author who wanted to actually ship himself via UPS to the Oprah show. Another author I worked with many years ago wanted to live in a coffin in Times Square for a week.

Still another innovative author marketing ploy I witnessed was a man who wore only a sandwich board strapped over his naked body and walked around Book Expo America, at least until police escorted him out. His story ended up in the New York Daily News. Mission accomplished!

So, we now come to the fellow who allegedly turned to firearms to get book publicity. If he had killed himself, it certainly wouldn’t be amusing, but he didn’t – and he’s OK – so to me he’s fair game for commentary, and even some good natured teasing.

Successful author marketing is certainly a challenging task, and many authors and/or their publicists must be creative. But certainly, there are limits. Potentially killing yourself in the name of book publicity doesn’t just exceed acceptable limits, it defies understanding and in the end, really, is a sad testament to just how competitive book publishing, author marketing, and book publicity has become, and how desperate some authors have become.

More books than ever are being published and the need for creative promotion is greater than ever before. Authors have to set themselves and their books apart from the crowded literary market. But to the desperate self-promoting author who allegedly shot himself, I ask: Is it really worth it?

Author marketing and promoting yourself and your book is supposed to be fun. It’s hard, hard work – but it should also be fun. Who knows how successful you will be, how many books you will sell, but the entire experience should be fun.

Deliberately discharging a firearm into your body to get attention isn’t creative, it’s just shockingly stupid