Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Out-of-the-Box Marketing by Melissa Clark

When I was trying to think of unconventional methods to get the word out about my first novel, The Playboy Mansion came to mind. 

You see, at the time, the reality show Girls Next Door was very popular and my dad, a writer himself, had lots of older friends who regularly attended the Mansion on movie night.  As luck would have it, calls were made and an invitation was extended to me, the glasses-wearing-uber-nerd-writer, to spend an evening at the Mansion. 

My aim was simple - I would deliver three signed copies of my book to the three girlfriends, and assuming they read, my hope was they might mention my unconvetional plot (girl gets pregnant from a lazy sperm) on air. 

The Mansion was not what I expected and the girls seemed so out of place among all the alter kockers there for movie night. I met Holly first, Hef's #1 girlfriend at the time. She smiled weakly and took the book saying she was about to go on a trip and would read it on the plane. Brigette was next - she was holding her dog in one hand and with the other hand reached out to take my book. She seemed a little confused, like why is this 30something girl with glasses handing me a book that she wrote? And then there was Kendra. She bounded in with all the energy of a 21-year-old. She was enthusiastic and full of questions. I loved her immediately. (She has since "written her own book"). 

After a mediocre dinner and a movie I'd already seen in the theater, I said my goodbyes and headed home, resolving to watch the reality show every week and hoping, praying, begging for a glimpse or mention of my novel. No such luck. 

A few months later, however, after an evening of Googling, I found that Bridgette, the least interested of the gals, had put my book up for auction in order to raise money for troops in Afganhastan. I was shocked. I spent the next few days watching the auction price rise - from fifteen dollars to a whopping $982.00! Who the hell paid 982 for my book? 

Well, the marketing scheme didn't exactly pan out as I'd hoped, but yay for the troops! 

In more mainstream marketing efforts I found postcards, book fairs and plain, old word-of-mouth to be the best bets. And as fellow Girlfriends have written in previous posts, just make sure you write the best book you can - the rest is truly icing on the cake.

Melissa Clark is the author of "Swimming Upstream, Slowly", "Imperfect," and the creator of the children's television show, "Braceface." She is too old to be a Playboy bunny, but a girl can dream... Follow her at Connections Clark!


  1. I want to see the pictures of you in the Grotto. LOVE this story. xoMM

    1. Ha! That Grotto looked like it needed a good scrubbing!

  2. I want to know who paid for the book as well! Great story. Proves we just never know....

  3. Funniest marketing story I've heard so far! That is some creative thinking on your part.

  4. These are the "perks" of living in L.A.

  5. That pic of you and Hef is PRICELESS!!

  6. Melissa, best marketing story I've heard yet!

  7. I'm thinking you still might get traction on it. For example, what if the next ingenue decides it's her path to stardom, gets an old fart to finance it, and then it's true love for them and big print runs for you! Funny bunnies and maybe grumpy old men put together...

  8. LOVE IT! I kept reading thinking, "this has to be a joke." *waits for punchline*

    That photo is awesome, too. :)

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