Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Costume Party

The Blue Obi,
Robert E. Blum,
pastel on canvas, 1890-92.

Buzz. Branding. Bookmarks.

Writers are encouraged to become creative in marketing their books.

One of the promotional gimmicks suggested and employed is to dress - or dress up - as one of your characters at book signings and similar appearances.

I can see this attracting some interest if you are flogging an historical - or perhaps fantasy.

Not sure that full frontal goth dress would attract a broad spectrum of buyers, though. You'd have to pick your venues.

On the other hand, when I'm in cynical mode, I wonder if the general public may be somewhat jaded regarding costumes.

We see them all the time: parades and other fetes, re-enactment days, protests, the sidewalk guy with the billboard and the plastic head handing out "awareness" pamphlets, Sesame Street, Shriner's conventions....

It's an idea that can get old, like kitty litter, really, really fast.

A more subtle form - which might work even for contemporaries - is a signature item associated with the main character - a hat ( Indiana Jones)for example.

I suppose there are people who sport a set of fangs.

What do you think of this gimmick? Do you have a character you could "impersonate?" And would you show up in costume and accoutrements?


kmfrontain said...

Since I don't physically resemble any of my characters, no I don't think I'd play dress up. This question is very much like another I've asked myself: if I did have a nice body, would I wear itsy bitsy bathing suits and show more ass than a baboon? I cringe to think how I might have turned out, had this been the case.

Bernita said...

"show more ass than a baboon"
The buff-fluff syndrome.
My characters are contemporary and not remarkable regarding costume ( unless I insert some quirk with promo in mind) so it wouldn't work for me.

LadyBronco said...

No costumes for me.
Besides, if I ever did have a signing and I showed up with a sword strapped to my back, I think the public would freak out just a tad.

Gabriele C. said...

Oh, I plan to get me a decent set of lorica segmentata and a helmet despite the fact it'll eat up any advance. It's just so much fun to wear it, prmomotion or not.

Bernita said...

They might love it, Lady B. - and if someone asks one of those inevitably dumb questions you could narrow your eyes and reach for it.

Could always write it off as a research deduction, Gabriele.

bunnygirl said...

I may be youthful-looking, but I wouldn't get very far impersonating a teenager. And showing up at a bookstore with a bowie knife, an M16 and a horse probably wouldn't go over too well. I'd be lucky not to get taken away by Homeland Security.

Seriously, though, I think the whole dress-up thing is just silly. But I'm not a gimicky gal, and I wouldn't be able to sell ice in the desert, so maybe it works.

Jaye Wells said...

I'm planning on bringing capes back into the mainstream. I mean, none of my characters wear them, but still...

Anonymous said...

I always hope good writing will sell the book.
Naive, I know.

Too many gimmicks make me wary. Sort of a 'but can they write?' sort of thing.


Dave said...

Not a chance in the world!
Thanks for the chuckle!

December/Stacia said...

I resemble a few of my characters--in hair and eye color, anyway--but don't think I would dress up as anyone, no.

Although I do have a tattoo in mind...but that's a long story.

Bernita said...

As a distinctly "old hat" sort of thing then, Bunny!

They get caught on things, Jaye...gravestones, pitchforks...

I suppose they might focus attention on the writer, Sam,( hopefully not "gah, what a freak!") but not necessarily on the book - unless the apparel matched the cover.

Obi wan, obi two, Dave!

Now, a signature tattoo for fans is a gimmick that might work, December.

raine said...

Do you have a character you could "impersonate?

"Could" being the key word there...
Lord no, lol!
They'd never forgive me.

Bernita said...

hee, Raine!
They can be quite snotty enough as it is.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've had pictures taken with my broadsword but that's as far as I've gone. I would probalby feel far too self-conscious to dress up for a signing on my own. Come to think of it though, I did wear silk pajamas to a mass signing once for an anthology called "Erotic New Orleans" that I had a story in. By myself, though? Not too likely.

Bernita said...

Much more comfortable in a crowd, I should think, Charles.

Jon M said...

Whatever I wear, it seems to look like fancy dress!

I met darren Shan, british horror author at a signing and I was pleasantly surprised at how normal and friendly he was. No costumes there! Well, he did have clothes on but he wasn't dressed up...I'm rambling again...

Bernita said...

"how normal and friendly he was"
That, Jon, is what I think sells books.

Jon M said...

With you there completely, there was ayoung girl in front of us with a pile of earlier books and he signed every one saying, "Well you've been queueing for long enough, you deserve it!" I like pleasant people!

cyn said...

no. not me.
tho i would very much love
to put on some traditional
chinese clothing, be it the
silk embroidered shirts or

anything to play dress up!

but that would be me, "glam
author" signing. haha! my
heroine schleps around in
dirty cotton trousers.

Bernita said...

Kindly and considerate, Jon.

And mine in jeans, Cyn!
But I can see the temptation there.

Anonymous said...

Ug. All the more reason to connect product and pimp.

No thanks.

Bernita said...

Seely, I am relieved the question would not arise with my stuff.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I always claimed if I sold Sentinel, I'd get the tattoo they all have. It's distinctive and in a fairly non-hideable place. We'll see if I have the guts.

My friends tell me I should dare show up to a signing without it though. And I always rather respected Johnny Depp for his Jack Sparrow tattooes.

Bernita said...

There's always the lick-and-stick, chicken alternative, SS.
Hard to tell from the real thing.