Monday, June 29, 2015

The Square Peg - Darla Dingbat, Rabid Promoter

I got an email the other day from an agent... well, book promoter is a better appellation, but she called herself an agent... and an advertising whiz. She said she could help me achieve a bazillion sales on my books. Her email was splattered with testimonials from "highly satisfied" customers. I emailed back, thanked her for her concern and offer, but told her I wasn't interested. I made one tiny mistake. I used my business email... you know, the one with the auto signature... and my website, and my address... and my phone number. I should have paid more attention before I dashed that note off. She answered my email immediately. She said she'd call. And then she did.

I picked up the phone and said "Hello." I didn't look at my caller ID. Big mistake.

"Darla Dingbat here, I just need a minute of your time. You won't regret it."

I already was. I started to respond, but didn't get the chance. She was already launching into her pitch.

"Boy, have I got a deal for you," she said breathlessly, and for a second I thought this might be one of those late night 1-800 calls... you know the kind. It wasn't. She was just storing oxygen for the torrent of words that came next. "Do you know what I can do for your sales? I can boost them right to the top. I'll design an a campaign that will drive those sales right through the roof. You'll be on the Amazon best seller list in no time. Think launch parties, book signings, review swaps... think podcasts and guest blogs... we'll blaze new trails into the readers world. Think your website with targeted SEO..."

I quickly broke in as she took another breath. "SEO?" I asked, "Substandard Employment Office?"

She either didn't catch my sarcasm, or ignored it. "No, silly, Search Engine Optimization... we'll hashtag the hell out of them. Your books will show up every time somebody clicks a mouse or taps a screen! How does that sound to you?"

It sounded to me like she was about to have an order-gasm, but I didn't say that. "Uh, huh, and what's all this going to cost me?" Two can dangle bait, I figured.

"Tell you what, give me a week to put together a campaign. I'll lay it out in writing so you get the full picture... I'll even give you different package options, then we can talk cost. How's that sound?" When I paused, she filled the void. "Seriously, I really want to do this for you, and the campaign plan won't cost a thing. Just look it over and I'll follow up after a few days."

"Fine," I said. But it wasn't fine. I was either going to get spam in my email box or junk mail in my regular mailbox. Either way, it was going to have to be taken out to the trash, digitally or physically, and I consider that a waste of time,

Four days passed and sure enough, an email from Dora Dingbat, Agent showed up in my In-box. I opened the email, expecting to see an outline. I wasn't that lucky. It was a short email with a pdf attachment. Well, I thought, I'll at least do her the courtesy of reading the email.

Deer Mr. Stooner,

    This isto conform our telcon of [blah-blah] 2015. Attaches you'kk fund my campane plan for you   book. Please take time to reed it and I'll call next Thrusday.

Excitedly yours,

I should have sent that straight to the garbage, but I'll be honest, that letter got my curiosity up. I had to find out if I was dealing with a grownup or a 10-year-old little girl with big ideas. I opened the pdf. The top was emblazoned with Darla's Name and logo - in perfectly good English. Either she had gotten careless with the email or had one of her kids type it. The "campane" paper was sprinkled with pictures of cuddly bear cups, wolf puppies, birds, and horses. I was immediately on alert.

What you have to understand is that my book is not a Disney portrayal of the wild world... it's realistic, it's gritty, and it's vicious in places. It's titled "PREY for SURVIVAL," for Pete's sake. You'd think she would have gotten a clue.

I scanned down the campaign. There was a schedule of book signings at PETA and Green Peace meetings, guest podcast appearances on ecofreak sites, and a web site mockup that looked like it had been taken out of the New Zoo Review. I'm not even going to go into what she had for a hashtag SEO list, book launch promos or ad placements.

True to her word, Darla called me up on "Thrusday." I answered.

"Well," that breathless voice again, "What do you think?"

"I think you need to read the books you are trying to promote," I replied and hung up.

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