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Author Self-Promotion Strategies: Call Yourself Crazy!!

January 14, 2019

(image via wikimedia)

Some authors can sell books based on reputation.  Some authors brand themselves as funny, or intellectual, or rebellious.  The occasional author even wants to be known as crazy.

The short version (you can read a longer version here) is that a few years ago an author tried to personally confront a reviewer who left a nasty review.  This author was called a stalker, and now the author has written a book about it.

The book (which is set for release in a few months) is called Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker  by… you’ll never guess… Kathleen Hale.  It takes some craziness to put your own name in the title of your book, especially if you’re not a celebrity.  Or maybe it’s arrogance.

If the author hadn’t referenced the “crazy” controversy in book title, her book of essays might not have received immediate negative publicity.  But of course, the author would put the crazy in her book title.  What’s the point of being crazy if you can’t put it in the title?

This craziness got so much attention that some online book reviewers are pressuring the publishing company to cancel the book.

I don’t like online mob outrage.  Even if I think the author is a horrible person (I’m not saying she is), I don’t agree with going after the publisher.  If online outrage mobs can shut down books I don’t care about, there’ll come a time when they shut down a book I actually want to read.  I’m not saying publishing companies shouldn’t exercise good judgement (whatever that is); I just don’t think outrage mobs should be the major factor.

As far as controversies go, this one’s pretty mellow.  I mean, nobody got hurt or arrested.  Yeah, stalking isn’t ideal, but Hale wasn’t following the reviewer around step-by-step, peeking through windows, or harassing her at a public restaurant.

I’m not a stalker apologist, so back off!

I don’t even know how much of the author’s story is true.  If there’s no unedited, unspliced video, I don’t completely believe anybody’s versions or interpretations of events anymore.  I don’t know who has exaggerated what.  Maybe Hale exaggerated how crazy the reviewer was acting online.  Maybe the author was exaggerating her own stalking behavior to get attention.  Maybe the author was really the reviewer and the whole thing is a set up.  Uugh.

Ever since James Frey apologized and cried on Oprah years ago, I distrust writers who talk about how crazy they are.  Writers have a talent for embellishing, and books are a great opportunity to lie.  The motive is there too; crazy stories sell.  The only possible drawback is risk, and I don’t think lying about craziness is that risky.

All James Frey had to do after the Oprah debacle was change to his name to Pittacus Lore and write YA fiction.  If Kathleen Hale turns out to be lying, she can just say, “At least I’m not a stalker” and write a fantasy series under another name.

If you’re not sure about Hale’s writing ability, she has already written about the experience here.   Even if you don’t believe that the story is true, you can at least get a feel for her writing style.

To me, writing style is more important than 100% truth when it comes to a memoir.  I almost expect writers to embellish a little (or a lot).  If an author can embellish (a little bit) in an interesting way, then maybe I’ll read the book.  But I cannot tolerate under any circumstances a poorly written lie.  If you’re going to lie, write it well.

*****

What do you think?  Do you believe this author really stalked a book reviewer?  How far would you go to get attention for your book?  Would you buy a book written by a stalker?

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