When Famous Author Promos Backfire

This post by L.J. Sellers and Peg Brantley originally appeared on The Crime Fiction Collective blog on 2/7/14.

L.J.: You mentioned in our last conversation how much you liked Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller series, and it reminded me that I’d recently encountered something surprising with that series. A promotional website posted a link on my Facebook page to the author’s short story, The Switchblade. (Which was odd and made me wonder if his publisher had hired them.)

More important, I went to Amazon to check out the short story and discovered that it has almost all one-star reviews. I was stunned! I read several, and they all have the same complaints: The story doesn’t have a real conclusion, and the ebook serves mostly as a promotion for Connelly’s next book, The Gods of Guilt. Both the short story and the novel are selling well, so was it effective? And even so, was it worth alienating some readers?


Peg: My guess would be no, soooo not worth it. I have become a huge fan of Michael Connelly and have to wonder what his publisher was thinking. By the way, while I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on sites like DorothyL and For Mystery Addicts about The Gods of Guilt, but I enjoyed it.

But Connelly isn’t the only author who might be suffering repercussions from this new marketing tactic. I recently downloaded what I thought was a short story by Dean Koontz, another of my favorites. I was completely turned off when at some point (it was moving rather slowly for a short story) I figured out it was simply a marketing promotion for his next book. I never finished it. And it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.


L.J.: Readers hate that! Which makes me wonder whether the author knew what his publisher planned and if he had any say in the matter. I like to think that he didn’t and that he’s not happy about the situation. I know that publishers sometimes encourage (pressure?) authors to write short stories as between-book promos. And sometimes they want their authors to participate in new programs and formats.


Click here to read the full post on The Crime Fiction Collective blog.


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