In case you missed the commercials…the ‘Big Game’ was Sunday. (I can’t say its proper name without expressed licensed permission.) The game was full of drama and some over-dramatized storylines. Some of the commercials were funny or deliberately dumb. A few were starkly heartfelt. Oprah almost made me miss the fact I was watching a car advertisement. But serious or humorous all good advertizing has a ‘hook’ – It gets your interest and is memorable.
After the game, subsequent speeches and awards, television network producers took advantage of TVs and DVRs left on their station. CBS aired a special episode of Elementary veering from its regularly scheduled Thursday night. The first twenty seconds of the show was a two prostitute strip tease routine. I am not being derogatory. They were cast as prostitutes. Sherlock quickly revealed they were thieves and they are arrested four seconds later. The women and their dance number had NOTHING to do with the plot of the episode but – it was interesting and memorable. Part of me is angry and disappointed by such a cheap trick to get ratings. Another part admires the consumer savvy of the producers that will surely lead to a bump in the show’s ratings, at least for one night if not long-term viewership.
Book blurbs employ similar tactics. They use buzz-words or piggyback on an already popular franchise. I picked up a copy of Beautiful Creatures after seeing a preview of the movie. (Yep, I’ma sucker for fantasy/paranormal.) Already committed to reading the book, I was stumped by the endorsement on the back cover: “Give this to fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight or Hbo’s TrueBlood Series -SLJ”. I can’t think of two more inherently opposed story franchises. The themes, settling, tone and audience are completely different despite the almost anonymous SLJ’s claim. And I say that at as both a reader of Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) and Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse) as well as a viewer of the shows and movies. Perhaps it is hypocritical. I am a living case of crossing the genre barrier.
My mom likes Twilight. My sister watches TrueBlood.
I think a person can like very different things; I doubt a single book can successfully ‘borrow’ from two such wildly different worlds. However, I was morbidly curious to read how the writer tried to combine Teenage Angst and Campy Sex-appeal. (I intend to review the book on GoodReads when I finish.)
Regardless, the ‘Hook’ worked. It was interesting and memorable. Even if I disagreed with it. Even doubted its honesty. The proof is I recalled it days later (and am writing about it now). I am not a commercially successful writer (successfully published…maybe). I hold no secrets or marketing genius. I only have my own observations.
Never be dishonest.
If you misrepresent your work you will only alienate the very people you are trying to entice.
Shameless plugs work.