One of the things I’m upfront about is that I am not savvy at marketing. I mean, I’m a writer not a marketer. I most employ (and am most proud of) guerrilla marketing when it comes to my books. What does this mean? By any means necessary.
There are several reasons for this, the largest of which is there’s no handbook for independent publishing, especially where marketing is concerned – most of us learn as we go. So when things blow up in your face marketing-wise, especially when you venture onto the mainstream marketing chessboard, it’s always a shock and a learning experience.
Recently, I was told that I could not, under any circumstances, use the title of one of my books (AmeriKKKan Stories) in an advertisement for my book. According to this company (a large and well-known book site), the title violates their guidelines.
They told me, specifically:
“‘AmeriKKKan Stories‘ could be considered as promoting discrimination, violate, or displays defamatory, profane, hateful, or libelous material. Thanks for understanding that we can’t include the title in the actual advertisement!”
Imagine my surprise…Discrimination? Profane and hateful material? It’s like they read my book…no, but really; how do you advertise your book without using the title of your book?! This is a new one, even for me.
Can you imagine trying to advertise Coke without using Coke? But then, Coke isn’t spelled CoKKKe nor is it making a subversive political statement with its name. Who knew poetry could be so dangerous?
Still, if my book is OK to be advertised on say, Amazon or B&N, if it graces the shelves of a few select public libraries, if it makes its way to your hands somehow, then it should be OK just about anywhere, right? Wrong. Free speech does not equal free speech where your advertising dollar is concerned…or does it?
This got me thinking, as it often does: do mainstream authors have to deal with stuff like this? I mean, would a Penguin author be told they could not use the title of their book (no matter how controversial), in an ad that the publishing giant was paying for? Probably not. And that irritates me greatly.
For the record, to be “profane” is to violate something deemed “sacred.” Hell, they haven’t even read my book and it’s already sacrilegious to the holy order of literature! That alone should make you want to buy the book. At least, that would make me want to buy the book…but I’m a break the rules kinda guy.
Truth be told, when I was writing this book I was inspired by Ice Cube’s classic album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. If memory serves correct, no one ever accused Cube of “promoting discrimination” or implied that he was promoting the KKK because obviously, the title is a play on words…albeit a strong play but a play on words nonetheless.
But “they” did accuse him of promoting profane and hateful material. Fair enough. Who called him profane? “They” – the establishment – the “AmeriKKKan” hate machine which still exists today. He turned it on itself and it was both a work of art and a beautiful piece of subversive Americana. I wanted to push that theme further with my book…and in my own not so humble opinion, I did.
But for every act of truth there is but a price and in this case it’s knee-jerk censorship and the squeamishness of the oh-so-delicate literary mainstream. To think, that an ad I’m paying for, might cause someone to actually think for themselves and investigate further…call me crazy but that sounds like a great ad. “AmeriKKKan?! What does he mean by that?!” Mission accomplished.
It is for reasons like this that I, as an author and a publisher, remain underground; the mainstream literary world is far, FAR too delicate. I risk shattering those protective literary bubbles with every word I write. God forbid I challenge the norm – a norm I might add that is largely devoid of any color much less subversive thought.
It’s OK in the entertainment industry to push the envelope and be controversial but try that in literature and you risk getting banned or worse, ignored.
It is also for this reason that when I pitch you on one of my books and tell you that you’re going to read something unlike anything out there on the mainstream shelf, I mean it.
I’m proud of AmeriKKKan Stories. It has some of my best material in it and I’m not shy about telling people that nor do I expect you to take it lightly. It’s been both read and adored by the famous and the not so famous. It’s the kind of book that encompasses everything my little publishing house is all about. Still, it remains widely unknown and very underground.
If you’ve read it then you already know what I’m talking about but if not, I challenge you to take a chance on something that’ll punch you in the gut and maybe cause an electrical storm in your brain with “scary” and “profane” ideas and words. It’s not often you find books that can do that.
Read the book that’s too profane to advertise itself! Ha! If you have read it please consider reviewing it and letting the world know just how profane, hateful, discriminatory and lewd it is. Thanks!
Thanks for reading and please share this on your grapevine!