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: Political Leaders as Book Marketers
Politicians may seem to be unlikely book marketers, but when you think about it, who better to be seen holding your book, except maybe the Pope, than a national president or dictator?

This was proven emphatically in Novermber when, during a speech at the United Nations, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez held up a copy of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, and became a hugely effective book marketer for Chomsky and his publisher, Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books.

During the 15-minute speech, Chavez said he could still "smell sulfur" left behind by the "devil,” George Bush, who had addressed the chamber 24 hours before. Chavez accused the U.S. of having “double standards on terrorism” and urged delegates to read Chomsky’s book.

Not your typical sales pitch, but it worked: the message apparently spread beyond the great hall, and within days the book jumped from No. 20,664 to No. 4 on the bestseller list, and to No. 7 at, up from 748.

Less than three months later, President Bush was doing his own bit of book marketing, as a national television audience saw him holding the newly released The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward—A New Approach at the report's opening press conference, and now it's become a bestseller, reaching No. 2 on Amazon. It couldn't quite dethrone the Oprah-approved You: On a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management, but it was also downloaded as a free PDF 730,000 times on that first day.

Vintage, the trade paperback division of Random House, has printed 250,000 copies so far, banking on the trend that "citizens" are buying and reading these books, as they did the million copy-selling 9-11 Commission Report two years ago, and The Starr Report and The Warren Commission Report before them.

So, how soon can you get your book into the hands of a world leader to use as a visual aid? Probably not very soon, but there is a take-home message. Make sure your book shows well, just in case. If it’s a conservative tome, design your book cover to look good with blue pinstripes and a red tie. If it’s rabble-rousing liberal treatise, make it compatible with camouflage – if you’re lucky, some rebel leader might become your best book marketer!

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Links to previous Crazy Book Marketing articles:

The New Bookmobile?

Laughing to Keep from Crying

Ruby Lee, the Bee of Many Marketing Possibilitees