Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spam HOW!

I watch a lot of commercial TV. I never actually buy anything, but I enjoy drooling over giant Alexandrites and imagining dialing the telephone...kinda weird that way.

So while I'm up procrastinating, I sometimes wonder what it would be like if authors went the info-mercial route. I imagine my book in the hands of some fast-talking, abundantly charismatic sales-celeb, who--despite his drug addiction or sexual indiscretions--is well loved by the credit card wielding populace. He waves my cover around and chants to the viewing audience...this book not only entertains, it will make you cry, it will make you tremble, it will make you laugh until you pee...or your money back!*subtle announcer voice whispers* certain restrictions apply, customer is responsible for all shipping and handling charges.

It's not a pretty picture, is it?

The cynic in me shakes her head at the apparent effectiveness of such measures, and let me tell you some author promoting is not far from the above...well, not really far. There's nothing like an industry full of desperate, albeit talented, folks who'd do almost anything to make a living from their true joy. They spam, bless them. They tweet, they flood lists with promos. It's the new game for a new industry. (It is a new industry, some folks just haven't caught on to that yet.)

But does it really work? Can you simultaneously irritate an audience and win them over? Hell if I know. Some folks seem to be making a go of it. . . others not so much. But I think I know why I like late night commercial television, and I think I may have to cut these spamming authors a little slack because of it.

I'm really good at suspension of disbelief. I also grew up the daughter of a swap meet junkie. I swerve uncontrollably for yard sale signs. I get goosebumps at the sound of an auctioneer. And I can't think of anything I like better (except maybe stormtroopers) than the idea of wandering along some exotic, foreign souk drooling over hand woven silks, pungent spices, hammered copper pots, and yes, listening to the sing-song of a hundred merchants calling out their commercials.

So when I sit alone in the living room with the lights out, my work in progress languishing on an unattended laptop, and the gem shopping channel chattering and flashing huge Tanzanites the size of walnuts, part of me thinks of Cairo, of Morocco, of a dark alley where I can get a steal on a Sari.

It makes our commercial world a little more palatable--at least for me. And when a particular yahoo group or website or what have you gets innundated with "buy my book please" posts, I think I can still hear it...faintly in the background. I think I can see the charm in it, and I can almost smell the spices.

~Frances

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