Friday, October 12, 2007

A Peculiar Promotion

A hybrid monster from the Luttrell Psalter, c.1325-35.

from Monsters and Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts,

Alixe Bovey, University of Toronto Press and The British Library, 2002.

Grotesques and gargoyles flourish abundantly in nearly all forms of medieval art.

Both Gabriele (Germany) and Sam ( France) have posted pictures of those and other more natural animals that decorate various pillars, cornices and pediments of some of the ancient structures to which they have access, and which have survived reconstruction, mutilation, architectural taste, and time.

Back on October 2, Yahoo News included an AFP story about a gargoyle mystery.

Seems a series of grotesque stone faces began appearing nocturnally beside public places in Yorkshire, England. The heads were eventually traced to artist/sculptor who deked by in the dead of night - but not before they garnered nationwide media attention.

A very neat exercise in promotion: create a mystery, acquire attention for one's work.

This technique could be adapted to some books and sometimes has, though a specific example escapes me at the moment.

Certainly the effort has longer legs than buttons and bookmarks and black swan hats.

The symbolic objects of interest should be visible, unusual, non-threatening. -- and, most of all, mysterious.

Probably various other restrictions/characteristics apply. Size? Fragility?

My imagination fails me at the moment for any of my own stuff, but it doesn't hurt for anyone to speculate just how one might arrange a similar promotion.
Could you conceptualize your book this way?


Jaye Wells said...

A new trend in this vein is the fake web site to stir up controversy. Like this one to promote the Unfortunate Event books.

Two words: Gerbil Cam.

Bernita said...

Very clever of them, Jaye...I think.

Seeley deBorn said...

An artist recently shown in my sister's gallery does similar work.

Were I able to, I'd probably create fantastic graphics overlain with snippets of brilliance and post it throughout blogland and forums.

Yes, I was a tagger. (Norse runes were my specialty in highschool)

Bernita said...

Very nice, Seeley.

spyscribbler said...

My imagination fails me at my stuff, too. Very creative, though! I think the black swan hat works pretty well for her, though. :-)

Bernita said...

But within the romance community, Natasha, not the general public.

Dave F. said...

If you remember back to February of this year, the city of BOSTON descended into chaos and paralysis and fear because dudes from the Cartoon Network show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" tried to promote the show by secretly planting replicas of the MOONINITE with flashing diodes around the city. They tried the Dudes and fined them for mindless pranks, disturbing the peace, etc...
Curiously, 9 other cities understood that a Mooninite was a cartoon character and its flashing LED's only signified giggles. I mean the plots are like a talking slice of pizza and a container of french fries save the world from alien invasion. How inane can you get. (now that was a naive question).

I like the idea of posting Gargoyles or as the Germans say - Die Wasserspeier - as a promotion but with FEAR and PARANOIA and all that nonsense floating around, be prepared for some nut with no sense of humor to do the stupidest things possible.

I think some authorities get angrier at being found culturally stupid than anything else.

Sam said...

Didn't the War of the Worlds radio show cause more havoc than anything else as people thought it was the real thing? lol

I suppose for my next book I can call up all the cemeteries and tell them that Jack Severn left his grave!

Sam said...

Oh and thanks for mentioning my gargoyle photos - I'll have to go track them down now!

Bernita said...

That must have been the example I remember, Dave.
I think planting anything that could be remotely considered a bomb is really stupid, actually.
Public fear and paranoia is not a new thing.The bomb squad has been blowing up lunches long before Oklohoma City and 9/11. Incidents just didn't make even local news sometimes.
The gargoyle faces looked resonably inert, at least.

Yes, it did cause some fuss and uproar, Sam.

Gabriele C. said...

I'm not good at promotion and marketing.

I can only try to write good books and hope for the best. Maybe I should send one to a celebrity who actually reads books (like Prince Charles) in hope he'll get caught in the act by a camera. :)

raine said...

That's actually a rather beautifully done painting.
(Also gives new meaning to blow it out your ass...oops, sorry...).

Yes, I thought of War Of The Worlds too. Along with the occasional billboard/newspaper ad that piques the interest with a short, mysterious message, then adds more and more until a film/book is released.
A very good idea, especially with the element of mystery involved.

Can we expect to hear delicious reports about peculiar stone children cropping up around Canada? ;-)

Charles Gramlich said...

The only problem that I see is that a piece of sculpture or artwork shows us everything immediately as it is seen. It requires only the openness of the observer. But for a book, the cover is the only thing that has this power, and the writer typically has nothing to do with the cover. Books require effort on the part of the person who responds to them, and this makes promoting them pretty hard it seems to me.

The Anti-Wife said...

I think creating a hologram of snippets of some of the more enticing sections of the book, them projecting it anonymously in the middle of busy shopping malls would be quite fun.

PS. Late 50's and just starting to see grey hair!

Bernita said...

Or blog about it, Gabriele!

Hee, Raine, you should see one I chose not to post!
I'll just say the scribe's name was Alanus.
Vaguely remember some writers creating game-type contest with clues, too.
Not for a short story, but you clearly get the idea.

We sem to be mostly thinking in paper dimensions here, Charles.
But what if the midnight prowler's objects were connected to a book? What if he were an author and not a sculptor?
The secret seems to be to first create the interest and the mystery and after that is achieved, the truth/connection is revealed.

Bernita said...

Sounds like a very cool idea, AW!

Ello said...

Well the other thing, of course is to write something controversial that you know will rile people up. Or sometimes you happen to write up something that turns out to be controversial. I've said it before and I'll say it again, book burning by some freaky extremist right group is always a good thing for sales! Think of all the books they have to buy first to set up that nice huge bonfire! ;o)

Actually, if I ever get published, I would expect to have alot of harsh criticisms from Japanese historical revisionists who abhore any criticism of the emperor and object to honest portrayals of their part in history. But that was not intentional on my part. I just write the facts as I see it.

Bernita said...

I am always amazed at some of the grounds people use to call for a book-ban, Ello.

Scott from Oregon said...

I'd travel the country putting garbage cans on flagpoles...

writtenwyrdd said...

There's always the Bonsai Kitten website, if you want a bogus site that stirred the masses.

Not sure how effective something that off-putting would be to promote a project or product, though!

I smiled when I read about the artist dropping the gargoyle faces in various locations. And he used stone age tools (rocks) from what I understand.

Sounds more like a bit of performance art rather than promotion.

Robin S. said...

OK- I'm gonna take a chance here and say what I really thought when I first saw this picture -

I thought, "Wow, there's an actual PICTURE of someone blowing it out their ass".

What can I say? I'm crass and crude, and not, all at the same time.

How can one a woman who loves To Kill a Mockingbird think this? Well,I guess I can because I'm also a woman who loves Catch-22, and also because one of my favorite anti-heroes is McMurphy, of Cuckoo's Nest fame.

Bernita- hope you don't mind. Your blog is really interesting!

Bernita said...

Capture the flag, Scott?

"Sounds more like a bit of performance art rather than promotion."
Certainly does, Written. Still, made me wonder if something like that could be adapted.

Thank you, Robin.
How could I possiby mind?
And how could one possibly resist that alternate caption?
For all we know that may have been exactly what the illustrator had in mind. It wasn't a prissy age and some expressions are more venerable than we might think.

Jon M said...

This sort of addresses this post and the 'Clairol' one. I heard of a guy who self-published his book and then created an alter-ego 20 years younger than himself with a life in the Foreign Legion and allsorts, he then pretended to be his own Agent...don't know how far he got.
Wouldn't it be curious, if one had the funds to self publish and then sneak around planting your books in bookshops...

Bernita said...

That's rather confusing, Jon.
Am I correct in assuming he created two personae?
A fictional biography of himself, and then a further false one of an agent?
Planting books in bookshops? But how could they sell them? How would royalties accrue?
~feel dizzy~
Sounds very like a plain cheat to me.

writtenwyrdd said...

It took me a while to figure it out, but the guy on the hind end is holding a bag pipe. I still cannot decide if the back person is attached to the animal body, but I believe he is. That robe is very odd looking if he isn't.

What do you think, Bernita?

Bernita said...

Yes, it's a bagpipe on the front end, Written. It's meant to be a hybrid, double-headed creature, according to the text.