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Getting outted

August 8, 2007

Elana Centor writes on the BlogHer site about Zoe Margolis and Daniel Lyon’s respective “outings” and how the formerly anonymous bloggers identities came to light when their books were about to publish.  She contends:

This could be a coincidence, or it could be a new but very viable marketing strategy being used by publishers to garner extra attention for their writers.

I’m not privvy to the marketing strategies of either house, but I am, like Ms. Centor suggests, paying attention.

It brings you back to a variation the whole chicken and the egg thing – which comes first in terms of care and feeding?  When a blog begats a book, is it better to keep up the mystery of the blogger, or does the resulting press from the outting result in better book sales?  I’m not positive that these houses would have tipped off the media, but they’re probably happy about the press.  Maybe in the short term, it’s positive, but over the long term, the buzz from the guessing game would probably have been a better motivator to keep people interested in the book, and drive purchases. 

Either way, as the author points out, bloggers lose. I can’t imagine Fake Steve (I can’t bring myself to call him Daniel or Mr. Lyons, as it’s way too boring to even consider) will be as funny when he’s a part of the Forbes.com media conglomerate.  And now that I know who he is, I don’t feel the need to buy the book.  The funny stuff was on the blog already – even if the book has more of the same, been there, done that.   RIP Fake Steve…

It’s more of a question for Girl With A One Track Mind.  If I was a fan of her blog, which I’m not, I probably would buy the book. She was pretending to be someone, yes, but she wasn’t someone I was familiar with. Yes, as Zoe, she was playing a character, but just because Candance Bushnell isn’t Carrie Bradshaw doesn’t mean her Sex and the City columns become less readable. Fake Steve was pretending to be Steve. And even if you thought there was no way he could be Steve, you always had the idea in the back of your head “What if he really was Steve?” When that went away, you weren’t left with much.

As someone who works in marketing, in either of those cases, I would have prefered to keep the guessing game going. I wouldn’t have made the move to out my authors, unless they were the ones who were tired of the charade and wanted to come out. But as these two books present different scenarios, so do different books, and this will be something I for one is watching carefully.

It reminds me of the time I was working on promoting a computer security and was told by a journalist that he wouldn’t be able to cover the book unless there was a major security breach or hack that made it’s way into the news. I was going to relay that to the author, until I realised that could be construed as a challenge, and there was no way I was going to be getting into that!

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