Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Years ago when I’d just started writing, I made a wonderful friend in Regency author Noelle Gracy who wrote as Catherine Blair. Probably lack of originality more than anything, caused me to name my heroine Catherine. It was a pretty name and well suited my character—so I borrowed part of her pseudonym. In Noelle’s next book she gave her housekeeper my married surname, Brooks. I made her the heroine of my story, and she made me a servant! And she’s a published author with a solid readership, so more people than editors and agents actually read her books. A lot more!

So in my last book, my heroine’s name is Noelle. I gave Noelle a gorgeous, rich, smart, sensitive hero husband akin to George Clooney, but alas, she also had an accident and became a quadriplegic. Did I mention I’m Irish-Italian? Sicilian Italian. I believe in revenge. Some call it karma; the Italians call it something else. Just teasing—sort of.

Around this time, Noelle put her writing career on hold to procreate, but I’m certain that when she starts writing again, she’ll name her next heroine Theresa and she’ll be the most beautiful, smart, most gracious heroine on the face of the earth. Pretty sure at least.

I was reminded of our teasing antics when I watched the Writers Digest Live podcast of Steve Berry, James Rollins and Brad Thor. www.writersdigest.com/article/wdlive-berry-rollins-thor/ The three authors are great friends and were together for thrillerfest 2008 last month. They talked about the silly pranks they pulled on each other, but also how one of their pranks generated some very surprising publicity results.

They quietly began writing each other’s characters into their own books. Nothing very obvious, often times as subtle as just a reference, like Berry’s detective referred the case to Rollins’ private eye—or something like that. Or Rollins’ main character visited the bookstore (which he identified only by address) run by Barry’s main character Cotton Malone. But the fans noticed BIG TIME and started bombarding both authors with emails to point out that one author was STEALING the other’s character and that they should sue the miscreant who dared to infringe on his character.

All three authors were very surprised that their prank was detected by the fans and amused by the fan’s fierce protection of their characters. Not that any of the best selling authors need the extra publicity—but it never hurts. And they totally lucked into this venue by just having a little fun. Sometimes you get lucky!

Wonder how many of us are going to try and copy their luck? Think it would work for less well-known authors?


KL Grady said...

I can neither confirm nor deny that your name appears in my UF WIP. ;)

Donnell said...

LOL. T, I always wondered how you came up with the fantastic name Noelle and now I know. And I know better than to ever cross you. Allison Brennan used Donnell in one of her books :) she made me a secretary. Then I had the fabulous opportunity to sit next to one of her favorite mystery authors during dinner and she scheduled me for her next victim. OY!!! I know better than to cross Allison too! Interesting post, T

Mary Marvella said...

Funny. Two of my friends and I agreed to put each other's characters in our books in cameo roles. So far one of us has sold many books and short stories. The other friend sold a novella. We'll never catch up with her characters in our books. I haven't sold yet so I might need to write a story will all the characters from my 2 pals. Can we say "cast of thousands"?