As a literary promotion, it straddles the line between wretched excess and the epitome of cool. James Patterson published Private Vegas, his latest novel (co-written with Maxine Paetro), on January 26, 2015 and decided that getting the word out via commercials or word-of-mouth just would not do.
One of the sub-plots of Private Vegas involves a series of high end automobile explosions; Patterson accordingly gave away one thousand eBooks of Private Vegastimed to sell-destruct after twenty-four hours. The idea was to read it, but read quickly. The big news, however, was that Patterson was also selling one physical copy of the book that would explode — literally — twenty-four hours after purchase. The cost? $294,038. For that nominal sum, one receives a first class flight to a secret location, two nights in a luxury hotel, dinner with the author (that would be Patterson), gold plated binoculars (the better to watch the explosion from a discreet distance), and, one assumes, a team of professionals to handle the explosion. The event got plenty of publicity, beginning with a mention in The New York Times and proceeding from there, and maybe even a purchaser. The important thing for purposes of this discussion is that it got the word out that Patterson (with the assistance of Paetro) has a new book out. Will it prompt folks who wouldn’t have otherwise bought or read Private Vegas to do so? That remains to be seen. Let’s give the man A for effort, however. And just for the record…it’s worth your while to read Private Vegas, even if it takes you more than twenty-four hours.
Patterson is well versed in advertising; he worked in the field prior to turning to writing full-time, and is very much hands-on in marketing his own books. After reading about his efforts with Private Vegas,I thought I would toss our TKZ readers and contributors the keys to the Lexus (imaginary, of course) and see where whimsy takes us. Authors, published and prospective: if you were in charge of marketing for your book, and given a blank check to make it happen, what would you do? Readers: what type of publicity works best, with respect to making you aware of new novels (outside of recommendations from friends)? My plan for world literary domination would involve a raffle. I would issue a press release asking each reader to send me the original receipt showing that you have purchased my book within thirty days of publication. I would pick at random one receipt from those received and autograph that reader’s book after lunch at St. Charles Tavern in New Orleans, all expenses paid, including transportation and five nights at one of New Orleans’ haunted hotels (to be selected by the lucky winner from a list). Sound interesting? Let us read your idea.