I’ve heard before about conventional media (or indeed, any commercial enterprise) trying to co-opt bloggers into creating buzz for whatever they’re selling. At one point, I was offered a pass to a movie, and it was made clear that it was because I am a blogger, and no doubt a Highly Influential Opinion Leader. I wound up not picking up the pass or seeing the movie, but it’s the thought that counts.
I have just received an unsolicited and unexpected UPS delivery of a new book. Interestingly, this was sent to the address I had for only about half a year, but someone at UPS apparently knew I had moved and redirected it to the right place. I’m not quite sure how they got my old address (and since it seems likely that whoever was behind sending me the book in the first place is monitoring this blog, please do chime in in the comments).
Rather than reviewing the bookâ€”because that would be playing right into their handsâ€”I will review the mailing instead.
The packaging is stiff manila cardstock, and the book arrived in good shape with a press packet tucked inside. The press packet is six letter-sized sheets of glossy paper printed monochrome, double-sided. The cover letter addresses me as â€œDear Producer/Editor.â€ They say you should always open with a joke, so this is off to a good start. I am advised that the book I am about to enjoy was reviewed as being a â€œwinning comedyâ€¦with cracking prose and sharp observations that consistently entertain and surprise.â€ According to the publicist, Kristan, it is â€œspellbinding and wickedly funny.â€ I also learned the book has been optioned for a movie (seriously, has any book not been optioned? I’m pretty sure even the phonebook has been). The author managed to squeeze a colon and parentheses into the title of his previous book, and that punctuation note alone should tell you this guy is trying way too hard. The book in my hand has only a colon, which suggests either that he’s getting a grip or that he’s just given up.
The packet includes a schedule of the author’s appearances, including one in (surprise) Austin in late July. So they’re giving me a month and some change to read the book and blog about it so that my rapt audience of discerning readers will be primed to go to the book signing. Kristan, I’m not a very quick reader, I admit, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t take me six weeks to plow through this book, should I choose to read itâ€”I’m not really inclined to, but I’ve read my toothpaste tube twice already, so who knows.
Next we turn to a brief author’s bio, somewhat longer than the typical inside-back-cover bio (which is coyly brief in the book itself). It is entirely precious, telling us the author’s astrological sign in a tongue-in-cheek way, recounting the series of awful jobs the author has had, his sad litany of rejections from â€œevery established press in North America,â€ his shameful descent into self-publishing and then redemption at the hands of a major publisher. And, saving the worst for last, it appears this poor schmuck has a blog.
For dessert, an interview with the author running three and a half pages. I won’t bore you with it because I didn’t bore myself with it, except for the penultimate question and answer, which did catch my eye:
What’s the one thing you’d like readers to know about you that they may not already know?
I want my readers to know how grateful I am that they have given me 5 to 8 hours of their busy lives to read my books.
Now, this may be sincere, but it comes across as an incredibly calculated â€œoh gosh, thank you for reviewing my book,â€ showing up in this review-copy press packet as it does.
On the whole, I’d say this press packet does a good job of making me not want to be a book reviewer.