Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spreading Rumors

I love rumors.

Really, I do. My favorite part of baseball season--after the playoffs--is hot stove rumors. I love hearing who the Yankees might acquire and how the Red Sox might counteract that. I'm a huge college basketball fan, and I follow recruiting pretty closely. There are a lot of rumors that travel through that world too. Who might commit, what team is cheating (no, not Rutgers), what player is leaning a certain way?

I love movie rumors too. I check out sites like Ain't It Cool and Dark Horizons, looking for new movie trailers and photos taken by spies with silly fake names. But these rumors get me excited. I want to see the movie. I want to watch my teams play. I dig to find out more.

I think authors need to do the same things. Rumors need to be let out for the fans to see, especially if you're established. Think of the uproar and excitement that was let out when we all heard Dennis Lehane might be writing a new Kenzie/Gennaro novel. Or the rumor that never panned out: he was writing something called MISSING DELORES. That book never panned out, but it got my imagination going.

Writers now have so many tools at their finger tips. There is Twitter, Facebook, and who knows what other things to get your message across. And too often all we get are word counts or something really mundane like "writing about killing today." Or even my awful status update that I "need to write today."

Who cares?

If you're going to talk about your writing, shouldn't you make it pique someone's interest? How much cooler would it be if Russel McLean tweeted that he'd was "writing today about melting the dome in the Capitol Building." Let me tell you something, I'd probably spend the rest of the afternoon combing the internet for more information. He'd probably also get an harassing email from me too. Or if Jason Pinter tweeted he was writing a scene about the beheading of a Canadian figure skater? That'd get me looking around the 'net too.

Boy would they have my interest. Let something go. Make it cool, and vague, and mysterious.

I understand things get cut in revision. Things change. Books don't pan out. But Missing Delores never happened, and I still wanted to know more about Shutter Island. Fans understand.

But it can only help to get the reader's attention long before the book comes out.


Check out my e-book More Sinned Against and find out if two thugs can make it out of an Atlantic City hotel room alive. Or will their blood be splattered all over a couch?


StephenD said...

I agree, but I disagree.

I've started to limit my intake of rumors recently because there's a danger in too much foreknowledge. There were a couple movies that were ruined for me because the parts I was most excited about wound up on the editing room floor.

With the prevalence of the web (in general), twitter, Facebook, there's a danger in having revealing too much too soon.

It's all about the art of the tease. One of the reasons the last couple Christopher Nolan movies were so big (besides the fact that they were good) is how judiciously they released information.

Dark Knight had Heath Ledger as a great Joker. But how much else did we know before it came out?

Inception was about dreams. Did we know anything else about it at this time last year?

Craft a good teaser and you'll get people hooked.

BTW: Got your book, Dave. I'd read most/all of the stories when they were first published, but it's good to go back to them. Oh, and supporting authors you like.

Jay Stringer said...

Hey Stephen,

Good points. There's absolutely the danger in too much to soon.

I think Nolan is a great example both of what you're saying and what Dave's saying. Watching Nolan is a masterclass in the tease.

THE DARK KNIGHT was the best marketing campaign i've ever seen, two years of viral markting on the net leading up to slow reveals of character designs and plot details, then trailers that made you think you had the plot of the movie nailed down, only to find out the biggest beats of the trailer were all in the first half of the movie.

He left us all hanging for three years about whether he would film a third bat film, stringing us along with little bits of info before the official announcements began, and now the whole viral process will no doubt start all over again.

The marketing campaign for inception was based all around telling us that we didn't know what was inside the box, so that by the time it came out we NEEDED to know what it was.

Authors don't really do this. Would it work for books? Interesting idea.

StephenD said...

There really isn't anyone else doing it the Nolan way either. Except maybe JJ Abrams with Cloverfield and Super 8.

I think the reason it's easier to do with movies than with books is because movies are a visual medium (duh). You have built in associations. A bat symbol, a date, and the colors red, white, and green. You know there's a Batman movie coming out and he's fighting The Joker. How would you do that with a book? It would take someone more creative than I to figure that out.

Certain authors could make it work, though. Dennis Lehane and Stephen King could pull off the art of the tease. James Ellroy, possibly because he talks so much. But those guys wouldn't need a tease to move books anyway. Would it work for an up-and-comer?