Is it Autobiographical? And Other Questions You Shouldn’t Ask: Gabriel Roth Promotes Through Twitter Spat with Publisher

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In a world where stunts are a popular method to attention for and move products, it is unsurprising that one would be used to sell a book. Take yesterday: observers (including me) were trying to figure out if the Q&A disaster between Little, Brown & Co. and author, Gabriel Roth, was in fact a stunt or just some really painful PR work.

It begins with some pre-Q&A tweets:

Then you have the publisher subtweeting the author:

The author tweets back:

The publisher responds:

Then the Q&A begins:

Noticing the Q&A has gone off the rails, Little, Brown & Co. decides to put an early end to it:

That was a not so subtle jab there by Little, Brown & Co. and through all of this, I thought it was hilarious. I debated with friends on whether or not it was a stunt but secretly wished that it wasn’t because the absurdity and social media faux pas was incredibly funny. Of course, we got our answer a few hours later:

And the actual people behind the Little, Brown & Co. twitter account acknowledged the stunt today:

The question I want to pose today in wake of this is: Does a stunt like this actually get people to check out and/or buy the book? In an industry where hundreds of books are all demanding the attention of consumers, anything to drum up attention is good. I, personally, wasn’t more inclined to check out the book than I was before the stunt but I became a lot more interested in LBC’s twitter account because who knows? Maybe they’ll try more of these.

I do think this approach to marketing will get people to at least look the book up but whether the book is interesting to that particular reader is dependent on if the reader would’ve been interested if they had stumbled upon it. If anything, this is about getting eyes on the book, but I would love to know if it will affect sale or if there is no real difference. I also wonder if articles such as this one will help increase the effectiveness of the stunt as well.

Gabriel Roth’s book, The Unknowns, is now available in paperback (and no, it’s NOT autobiographical).

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About Author

Senior Editor. BA in criminals (a minor in daydreams). Batman seeks her advice constantly. Bylines at Book Riot, Teen Vogue, Slate, The Toast and Hyperallergic.

4 Comments

  1. I think this is a potentially risky stunt but in this case I think it worked. I had never even HEARD of this book before the fake Q&A but now it’s on my to-read list. I thought the Q&A was funny and hope that his book has the same kind of humour. And even for someone like you who isn’t more interested in this particular book, you’re more interested in the LB Twitter account and I imagine you’re not alone – which potentially means more publicity for all their books.

  2. Another question to ask: Will anybody want to read this book after having read the tagline? “In Gabriel Roth’s “Unknowns,” the narrator knows more about writing code than he does about women.” Bleh.

  3. It was a risky stunt. I didn’t like that it made the publisher look so bad, but it definitely got my attention…

    I know that self-promotion is a big thing that authors need to do because publishers can’t really give them as much promotions as they’d like (marketing budget etc), so it’s cool that the publisher allowed this to occur….