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View Full Version : Worst. Book. Promo. Ever.



raelwv
12-19-2012, 07:29 AM
Rarely does my work life provide writing advice, but I think this safely qualifies. A guy named Keyser wrote a book after 9/11 about the danger posed by anthrax. He self published and came up with an interesting promo plan:

In an attempt to secure publicity for the book, Keyser mailed a package to the Sacramento News & Review in 2007. The package contained a letter, a CD containing Keyser’s book, and a small spray can with a label stating ‘ANTHRAX’ and displaying a biohazard symbol. The package prompted employees to call 911 and to evacuate the building, and numerous emergency agencies responded.The FBI came calling, but Keyser wasn't deterred:

The next year, Keyser sent out approximately 120 packages to various news outlets, elected officials, and businesses. The materials sent to news outlets and elected officials were placed in business envelopes. They contained a CD printed with a picture of Colin Powell, the book title, and Keyser’s name. The CD contained over half of the contents of Keyser’s book. He attached a white sugar packet to the front of the CD with the sugar markings covered by a label stating ‘Anthrax’ in large letters, ‘Sample’ in smaller letters, and an orange and black biohazard symbol.

The materials sent to businesses were placed in purple greeting card envelopes. They contained a card with the same Colin Powell picture and ‘Anthrax’ sugar packet on the front and a short blurb about the book inside. The card directed recipients to visit a website to learn more about the book.This time Keyser got charged with multiple federal crimes, of which he was convicted of five. Now he's got worse problems than finding a publisher.

More legal details here (http://jdbyrne.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-not-to-promote-your-book.html), if you're curious.

jeffo20
12-19-2012, 07:36 AM
Any points I'm tempted to give him for creativity and persistence are more than offset by the negative points for stupidity.

Jamiekswriter
12-19-2012, 07:37 AM
Wow! SMH. Talk about clueless.

gingerwoman
12-19-2012, 07:46 AM
Did it work?

espresso5
12-19-2012, 08:36 AM
The general idea has some merits. The execution was lacking. If he would have consulted an attorney first and made sure whatever he did was legal, it might have worked. Maybe a package with his promo materials and a letter stating something like, "What if this were anthrax?"

frimble3
12-19-2012, 08:48 AM
It might work the other way around, though. If you were a terrorist, send out the goofy packages, make them a little more obviously a half-wit 'stunt', and hope that people will think it's another clueless writer and not alert anyone.
Maybe that's what the government is trying to stop: this becoming commonplace enough that people don't take it seriously.

Tepelus
12-19-2012, 08:59 AM
What a numskull.

rwm4768
12-19-2012, 09:00 AM
Wow...talk about stupid.

OhTheHorror
12-19-2012, 09:55 AM
:crazy:

seun
12-19-2012, 03:23 PM
Twat.

jeffo20
12-19-2012, 03:24 PM
Did it work?If by 'did it work', you mean was he
convicted on five counts and sentenced to 51 months in prison.

then, yes, it worked.

As far as selling his book? I just googled him and his book title. On the book title, the first page of results contains nothing but news stories and law blog links about his case, no indication of an actual book. The search for his name reveals several linked in/ facebook/myspace-type profiles that probably aren't him, and one two-year-old news story that is definitely about him.

I'd say not.

ThatKnight64
12-19-2012, 05:35 PM
:crazy: This made me chuckle (probably wasn't funny for the people involved but still...) Idiots will never cease to amaze.

veinglory
12-19-2012, 07:20 PM
Did it work?

He won four years free room and board in an exclusive writer's retreat.

swvaughn
12-19-2012, 08:25 PM
He won four years free room and board in an exclusive writer's retreat.

:roll:

You're awesome, veinglory. :D

Fallen
12-19-2012, 08:33 PM
Oh man. :Shrug: Just :Shrug:

writingismypassion
12-19-2012, 08:36 PM
Duh. I don't know what else to say. :e2smack:

Cyia
12-19-2012, 08:36 PM
On the scale of bad ideas:

Worse than the guy hawking his murder mysteries at funeral homes.

Probably a tie with the guy who tried the "creative" approach and made in character kidnapping notes as his query letter, which made the agents/editors think someone was threatening their kids.

stormie
12-19-2012, 08:54 PM
:nothing....

A fool is born every minute. I'd say he took the place of several fools on that idiotic promo attempt.

GinnieHazel
12-27-2012, 05:26 AM
Sending a box of goodies can work if you send them to reviewers and it's quite common in the gaming industry (or so I've heard) but they mostly send things like puzzles and fun things and honey (for one in particular). I've never heard of anthrax going down well.

benluby
12-27-2012, 05:55 AM
Twat.

You owe twats an apology. This guy was WAAYYYY past that in the stupid category. He was too stupid for the short bus.

Amanda R.
12-27-2012, 07:28 AM
Maybe a package with his promo materials and a letter stating something like, "What if this were anthrax?"

This would have been clever and most likely not have alerted the authorities (well, maybe a couple of diligent people still would have, but not *all* of them). But as others have said, stupid.

aliceshortcake
12-27-2012, 02:35 PM
On the scale of bad ideas:

Worse than the guy hawking his murder mysteries at funeral homes.



Earlier this month my local amateur dramatic society staged a murder mystery entitled Bringing Down the House. It was sponsored by...Co-operative Funeral Care.

Torgo
12-27-2012, 03:52 PM
This would have been clever and most likely not have alerted the authorities (well, maybe a couple of diligent people still would have, but not *all* of them). But as others have said, stupid.

That would still likely have alerted the authorities, who are not known for their appreciation of wit or rhetoric where small packets of white powder are being sent through the post.

Try carrying a bunch of fake dynamite through a TSA checkpoint with a label saying 'what if this were a bomb?!' sometime.

This is the worst book promo idea I've heard since someone blagged their way into our offices pretending one of our editors had been selected to go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

LindaJeanne
12-27-2012, 07:04 PM
What gets me is that after the FBI let him off the first time with a stern talking-to -- during which I am sure they made it quite clear WHY his actions were priblematic and WHAT the potential legal consequences to himself were -- he went and did it AGAIN.

Filigree
12-27-2012, 08:06 PM
[...the FBI let him off the first time with a stern talking-to...]

Extraordinarily gentle of them, I'd say.

James D. Macdonald
12-27-2012, 08:46 PM
"The failure mode of clever is asshole." -- John Scalzi

ChristinaLayton
12-28-2012, 04:43 AM
You owe twats an apology.


:ROFL:

LindaJeanne
12-28-2012, 03:35 PM
[...the FBI let him off the first time with a stern talking-to...]

Extraordinarily gentle of them, I'd say.

Which is why I'm amazed that rather than realizing he'd dodged a bullet he decided, in essence, to thumb his nose at them.

They gave him a chance to walk away free and clear, and he turned it down. Did he really expect they wouldn't throw the book at him the second time?