Monday, May 13, 2013

Ye Olde Bait-and-Switch

by Sunny Frazier

I'll admit it—I'm a sucker for a good headline. The ones on the tabloids are so outrageous that I can't stop myself from reading them while standing in the check-out line. I love a good pun in a book title (my next is A Snitch In Time). I want to be teased, tempted, tantalized. What I don't want is to be tricked.

I subscribe to a lot of industry-type blogs for information. I don't tweet, but there are people online who send out Twitter feeds and do the hard work for me. And yes, I'm suckered into opening these URLs because I can't help myself. I'm always looking for that Holy Grail of info that will reveal all the secrets of publishing and selling. Move over, Dan Brown!

I'm especially prone to anything with a number cited:
4 tips for completing your manuscript (oh, please help me!)
25 Ways To Be A Happy Writer (you mean I don't have to be depressed?)
12 Ideas for Email Updates That You'll Actually Enjoy Writing (email can be fun???)
Break it down in simple steps for me. This is what I'm looking for. Except, it's not.
When I open up these blogs, more often than not I find old news re-hashed. All the poster has done is slap a new title on stuff we already know. It seems the writer invested more time in coming up with a catchy title rather than content. I feel cheated. No, I feel used. I was looking for a new insight and all I got was generic information.
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice and I don't trust you anymore. I won't be lured to your blog again. Go ahead, dangle all the enticing titles at me that you can come up with. I won't take the bait.
I've decided to steal the premise of these blogs and do what the originator was too lazy to do—stretch my brain and come up with fresh info. You want to know “7 Odd Places to Sell Books?” Okay, here you go: Funerals. Coffee shops. Flower shops. Stationary stores. Social Security Office. Hospitals. Insurance offices. Yep, I've sold my books to all these places and I can tell you how I did it. I'm not one to make promises I can't keep.
I know many of these disappointing pieces are written because bloggers need to fill space. But, I don't have time for blather. Neither do any of you. Instead, make it a practice not to just read and absorb but read and riff off the unfinished idea. At least you'll get something productive in the end.


Julie Luek said...

This very thing runs through my mind every time I write a blog. The marketing background in me looks for the enticing tagline and the zip of information. But the writer in me knows the content must be solid or else it don't mean a thing, even with the bling.

I'm going to start hawking my articles in funeral homes now. You've inspired me. ;)

John Brantingham said...

It's a rule -- people love small rewards, and they get that small reward on numbered lists. It's a good technique, but you do have to put info into that. Some kind of content! I can't stand anything too generalized, and so many instructional blogs are just that.

Liane Spicer said...

Funerals? Hospitals? You're giving me ideas, Sunny--which a writing blog should do.

C.L. Swinney said...

I'm branching out to Little League games, dog parks, bowling alleys, and bingo halls. Got to be a niche in there somewhere!

FYI, there are so many instructional blogs rotating through the same information....hard to stomach that.

Anonymous said...

Sunny, you do have a way with words!!! Charming and worth reading several times... Thelma in Manhattan

Dorothy Francis said...

Dorothy Francis said....My car license plates say WHODUNIT. My bumper stickers give the titles of my 3 most recent books. When i see anyone looiing intereted, I say,
"I have a few copies of my books in the trunk of my car. Would you like to see a few?"

Patricia Gligor said...

Walmart, the grocery store, the list is endless. I carry book markers advertising my Malone mystery series and give them out whenever the opportunity presents itself. People seem to really like that, much more than getting a business card.
My best promoter is my mother. Wherever we go together, she tells people about my published novels. She did it at the local Lawn & Garden store just the other day and, from the interest the woman she told showed, I think I made a sale!

marta chausée said...

1. I love how you think
2. I don't like to be fooled, either
3. that's why I avoid a lot of blogs and articles that are just what you said-- old crap wrapped in something shiny.

This reminds me of the garbage strike in New York, where legend has it that people took to wrapping their garbage in gift paper and ribbons and leaving it on the back seats of their cars. That's one way to get rid of it!

Stephen L. Brayton said...

I'm also leery of the numbered blog posts that go beyond ten. Now, I've done that included 24 points, but I don't discuss them in length (that comes later, one at a time). Give me a short list of points and make them worthwhile to read.

Casey McGuire said...

Ahhhh, the conflict of being both a teacher and a student!

The "teacher" imparting knowledge likely most would know but still compelled to teach that specific subject material because there always are new students in need of that knowledge.

The "student" waiting (impatiently?) for that new tidbit to perk her interest.

Is being a student or being a teacher more important, oh impatient one?

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

Oh, dear, Sunny. I fear I fit! There is pressure to write regularly and I worry about being fresh, innovative, and interesting. I, too, am hooked on reading the numbered lists, though I rarely write one. Good post and a cautionary tale.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yep, the riffing off of is the thing that can even make some of the old gems still useful.

marja said...

I agree, Sunny. And I've often wondered what people think of my own blogs. By the way, don't forget the beauty shop, the veternarian's office and coffee houses.
Marja McGraw

Sarah Venezio said...

As angry as this topic makes me, your post at least made me laugh about it. The worst is when they just copy and paste the entire page from another author and try to pass it off as their own, and don't even bother to give credit where it's due . It's like they don't think plagiarism is a real thing if it's on the Internet. I don't get it.

Sunny Frazier said...

Folks, I don't blog unless I have something to say. I do commit to two blogs--this one and Buried Under Books. I also guest blog. But, those of you who know me understand how opinionated I am. I tend to be blunt and quick to get to the point. This is the way I lecture, just cut to the chase. There IS important info out there. I try to cull the best to pass on to The Posse (you know who you are). Charles got the gist of what I was trying to tell you: take these ideas and really stretch to make them as valuable as the titles pretend to be.

Elaine Faber said...

Or to put a Title to the concept of your inspiring blog- - -

"Fortune Cookie Worth Millions"

Woman who build lemonade stand from old box yellow lemons never be without enough green