Tell Us About Your Crazy Book Marketing Ideas

Each month this column will feature another wild, crazy, untried book marketing technique that catches our attention - please, no explosives or poisonous snakes -- and we will chronicle it here. Go crazy!

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Crazy Book Marketing Idea of the Month

How #@%$ Far Will the Indie Author or Publisher Go? This Month: Laughing to Keep From Crying
We’ve all seen photographs of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, but most of them focused on New Orleans, where flooding was caused by broken levees – not a direct hit by the hurricane. In the small Mississippi town of Bay St. Louis, they felt the same kind impact as the New Orleans area, but with one small difference...they were actually hit by the full force of the storm.

In an attempt to bring some attention to this little-publicized area, Bay St. Louis resident, artist and photographer Vicki Niolet published a book of photographs taken within hours of the storm. Local media have given her great coverage, and the book has become a popular symbol of survival, selling well to both residents and visitors to the area.

Niolet, who with her husband owned the former Paper Moon, a downtown art gallery, returned to Bay St. Louis two days after the storm hit, and among the tangles of ruined buildings, trees, and trash, she noticed crazy juxtapositions of debris that were too ridiculous not to laugh at. She began taking photographs, highlighting her “appreciation for the absurd,” as exemplified in her gallery, famous for its Elvis birthday parties, vintage clothing and eccentric art objects.

With its stunning photos, and captions like “Dock of Dismay,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (depicting a fallen church steeple), and these photos: “Bed, Bath and Beyond;” and below: “Taking the Scenic Route.”

In her foreword, Niolet says, "I hope that no one is offended by my captions and commentary. I feel that we have to laugh at some of this awfulness just to keep from bursting into tears, which we often do simultaneously anyway.”

Photos of train tracks twisted like corkscrews and buildings smashed as from a bombardment graphically illustrate the awesome force of Katrina. Niolet's husband rode out the storm at a local B&B, and when it broke up around him ended up swimming for his life.

“As I put the photos together over a period of several months, I began to bridge the delicate balance of despair and humor, and apparently in a successful way. Everyone around here craves the past, and wants to see pictures of what we lost. ” The initial printing of 5000 has almost sold out, and she is now working on a second volume, due out this November. The new book, West Side Stories, features “before and after" photos of local landmarks that disappeared from the small communities in west Mississippi where the eye of the storm passed through.

It's nice to hear about the wreckage being turned into something valuable. Talk about recycling!

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Parting Shots of Old Town Bay St. Louis
Photographs and Commentary by Vicki Niolet
$25.00, shipping included
Contact the author at

See more photos here.

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