Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twitter and blogs and selling books

I get People magazine. There, I've admitted it. It's my guilty pleasure. (And, as it happens, my mother's too--in fact, I got my subscription for her birthday, except she doesn't want it coming to her house out of some snooty form of embarrassment, so she gets the issues after I'm done reading them. In this way, her birthday present has managed to benefit me hugely.)

And apart from Star Tracks (you know you like them too), I like People's book section. Why wouldn't I? A week or two ago, I saw a review for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and it said so very little about the book except that it was "magical" that I had zero clue what it was about and therefore zero compulsion to read it. How sad. Now maybe the reviewer was stunned by the brilliance of the book (I am not being sarcastic; many reviews are coming in with a similar sentiment), or else the reviewer didn't have time to read it and gave a half-assed review.

Here's part of what the People review says:
"...the author entices her audience to suspend disbelief and rewards its members with captivating pleasure."


" this dark and extravagantly imagined debut, the effect echoes that of a magic trick: The confusion is part of the seduction."

What? It goes on like this--pretty words that told me nothing. The only actual hint as to what the book's about is this: "The plot follows the separate and then intertwining lives of Celia and Marco, both forced to spend their lives pitting their unusual talents against each other in a cruel competition."

That's it! That's a logline and not a very good one! And I was like, well, you haven't told me anything, and I don't know who or what Celia and Marco are nor why I should care about them, so pass.

It was a sucky review and I was not swayed. Until last night on Twitter.

Jan O'Hara, who writes at Writer Unboxed, re-tweeted this by author Brunonia Barry (whom I didn't know of until last night either, and whose book The Map of True Places also looks pretty good!):

"Erin Morgenstern's book,"The Night Circus," goes on sale today. I LOVE THIS BOOK! If you read only one book for the rest of the year, it should be this one!"

To which I responded (to Jan):
"I saw this write up in People last week and couldn't understand at all what it was about. Only that it was "magical."

Jan replied to me: "I didn't see the People write-up. Have you had a chance to read The Night Circus yet? Special book!"

I said: "No, I haven't--it looked interesting but then People didn't say what it was about, just that it was magical. What is it like?"

Jan: "Amazing craft. It's cross genre - historical romantic fantasy. Did you see my interview with @erinmorgenstern on WU?

Here's the link to Part I, if you're interested. Contains an exerpt and links, etc. @erinmorgenstern"

Now at this point, I went to go read the article. And I was instantly hooked on The Night Circus. The Writer Unboxed has this review from Brunonia Barry herself: "Dark as soot and bright as sparks,’ The Night Circus still holds me willingly captive in a world of almost unbearable beauty. This is a love story on a grand scale: it creates, it destroys, it ultimately transcends. Take a bow, Erin Morgenstern. This is one of the best books I have ever read.”

But what's it about? The Writer Unboxed article states this up front and also gives a quick excerpt. It was a sure way to tell me what the book was about and hook me. And I am hooked! The Night Circus is released today, and I'll be reading it.

Here's what Writer Unboxed says (but you should just go read the article for yourself because it's also an interview with Erin Morgenstern):

At its heart, The Night Circus is a genre-bending tale of duelling magicians. “…Celia and Marco… have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead…”

So-- lesson here? Post. Read. Tweet. It sells books, and I am the living proof of that. Popular magazines (i.e. traditional marketing media)? Hmm. Not so much.

Me: @jan_ohara Thanks Jan. This is SO MUCH better than people. I'm hooked. Thanks!

The Night Circus book trailer
Erin Morgenstern's web site
The Night Circus at Indiebound
The Night Circus at Amazon
The Night Circus on iBookstore

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