Over Branding

You’re digging a trench, poring the mortar, stacking the bricks. You’re an author building a brand. Wait for the grounds to grow fertile from the comfort of your spire. Wait for the town’s minstrels to sing praises of your handy work. Wait for the peasants to come clamoring over your draw bridge. Wait and watch the cobwebs form over your intellectual property. The time has come to go out among the commoners. The time has come to plant some seeds out in the country. Send your squires out to tell the world of Camelot.

That monument in your likeness isn’t going to erect itself.

Plant copies of your magnum opus on coffee shop bookshelves. Leave them as tips. Slide chapbooks under coasters. Wedge novellas into bus seats. Swap hotel bibles with signed first editions. You’re welcome, world.

Plant your business card in every handshake. Sign receipts with your blog address. Draw a white out balloon onto dollar bills and put words into George Washington’s mouth.

Hone your elevator pitch, your barstool pitch, your lap dance pitch. You paid for seven minutes in Heaven and that ought to get you through the third act. Workshop your ideas off of captive audiences; baristas, waitresses and bus drivers. You paid for that Go Pass and Metro Transit owes you some meetings, dammit.

Record the first chapter onto a cassette tape. Find yourself an old fashioned boom box and an olive colored trench coat. Park outside of Stephen King’s window. Stand on the corner with your stereo held high. Hit “PLAY.” Follow Neil Gaiman into the bathroom. Sit in the neighboring stall and slide your manuscript through the glory hole. Tell him to mind the gap.

Make the audiobook your ringtone. Call yourself at the DMV. Sell drugs just to force it on your clients. Tell them it’s your demo tape.

You’re canvasing, panhandling, coughing up leaflets. Nail your flyer to treatment center cork boards, to headstones, to the Pope’s front door.

Build your social media exposure. Troll Clive Barker on Twitter. Spam your own mother. Dredge up long lost relatives and sell them on your book. Someone’s gonna have to translate that shit into Norwegian.

What are your metrics? How are you trending? Have you gone viral? Have men in Hazmat suits coated your quarters in plastic wrap? Not yet? If at first you don’t succeed, you’re doing it wrong.

Keep telling yourself that thirty isn’t a deadline. It’s thirty-five. By then it’ll be forty. Raymond Chandler was forty-five when he wrote, “The Big Sleep.” Too bad H.P. Lovecraft died penny-less and alone.

There’s still time. You can turn this shit around. Rent a snow machine. Funnel your prose into the mixture. Mount it to the back of a pickup truck and careen down main street. You’re a one man ticker tape parade. Surf the hood and shoot t-shirts into the crowd. You want to knock them on their asses, right? Think of all the sirens, all the road blocks and police choppers. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

They’ll find you shivering on top of the IDS tower, wearing nothing but manuscript pages and a Cheshire Cat smile. When they send the negotiator to talk you off the ledge, send him back and demand a photographer. Yell, “Pictures or it didn’t happen, God damn it.” Tell them to send up a publicist after him.

They’ll wrap you in blankets and carry you into the ambulance. They’ll tie you to a stretcher, shine flash lights into your eyes and ask if you’re on drugs. They’ll lead you into a room and introduce you to a man with a clipboard. He’s just going to ask you a series of simple questions.

All you need to know, is that the answer to the first question is: page one paragraph one of your novel, quoted verbatim. Guess what the answer to the second question is?

4 thoughts on “Over Branding”

  1. Ha!!! You had me laughing! It is ridiculous, you are right–what a writer often has to do or is asked to do to promote himself or herself. And you write with such energy–electric!!! Well done! 🙂

  2. Oh my! This is so true! You feel like you are a crazy person, doing all the things right just to put yourself out there. Thanks for the laugh, and inspiration today. I am working on my first novelette. And it is encouraging that we are all going through the trenches together! Take care!

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