Thursdays With Dan: 5 Crazy Book Publicity Stunts That Ended (or would have) Badly

Some authors get desperate for attention. Sometimes really, really, really desperate. Some go as far as the infamous publicity stunt, which usually ends badly.

Book publicity and book marketing is tough work, and I’m in awe of what authors do in both writing their books and the time, money and effort they put into promoting them. There are no quick fixes, as these brief stories show …

  • Ray Dolin – This guy, an author of a memoir about kindness in America, was hiking as part of his book marketing efforts. Apparently he wasn’t getting enough attention, so he claimed that someone shot him while he was hiking. Great irony given his book premise, and it got a lot of media interest. Problem is, he shot himself. Bigger problem: some other guy was actually arrested for the fake shooting, so Dolin had to come clean. Dumb and dumber. Here’s some background on this gem:
  • Brett De La Mare – Short but sweet: Brett couldn’t find a publisher for his novel, so he flew his paraglider into Buckingham Palace. Desperation, meet idiocy.
  • Harry Nicolaides – Mr. Nicolaides allegedly deliberately insulted the Thai royal family in his self-published novel knowing this was against Thai law, in an attempt to get attention and land a publishing deal. He went to Thailand, was arrested and sentenced to three years in a Thailand prison (Thailand notoriously has some of the worst prisons in the world) and served six months. Now maybe that gave him some material for a book …
  • Georges Simenon – This is an “almost happened” stunt. In 1927 Georges Simenon, the amazingly prolific author of the Inspector Maigret novels, agreed to write an entire novel while suspended in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge nightclub for 72 hours. The public would choose the novel’s characters, subject matter and title, and Simenon would pound it out the on a typewriter. It was promoted as “a record novel: record speed, record endurance and, dare we add, record talent!” Unfortunately, the newspaper sponsoring the stunt went bankrupt. It would have been a wonderful literary David Blaine-type act.